It's always fascinating to hear insights from other businesses on what works for them in terms of newsletters and email marketing. As Anand Sanwal puts it, 'There are no rules with newsletters. Do what is right for you', but how do you find that out?
The answer is: through testing. And then testing again.
Sanwal uses A/B/C tests on a small sample to work out which headlines are most effective before sending out the successful one to the majority of his subscribers.
With our own newsletter, we've tried various techniques since launching it in January 2015. Here are some of the things that are currently working for us in terms of headlines (knowing this might/will change as our subscribers change):
- Not using the same headline every week (i.e 'Latest news from B2B content marketing'). It's boring, and only our die-hard subscribers are likely to push past it to our content.
- Longish headlines (at least 5 words) involving specifics - this way you know the content is going to be relevant to you.
- Puns or plays on clichés/familiar phrases - don't underestimate entertainment.
Of course, our audience is going to be different to yours, and the best way to work out the right recipe is through trial and recipe. So try some of Sanwal or our techniques and adjust depending on the results.
Here’s what works for us. (Note: There are no rules with newsletters. Do what is right for you) Brand names – There is a reason big tech blogs cover Google, Apple, etc so much. People care about them. Brands work. Short titles – Less is more. Negativity – Unfortunately, “A unicorn takes flight” will do worse than “A unicorn falls to earth”. The news adage that “if it bleeds, it leads” seems to hold here. Surprises – Contrarian views or data on widely held beliefs or areas do well. Here’s what doesn’t work: Obviously, the opposite of the above. Long headlines. Positive headlines. Proof of trends everyone knows. These don’t work. Questions – The old Buzzfeed or Upworthy style curiosity gap style headlines don’t do well for us. Things that end in questions in particular do terribly.