Posts Tagged ‘e-mail best practices’

Online Headlines Have Power: Never Cry Wolf!

A headline caught my eye today:
“Cellphones may cause cancer, advisory panel says.”
Scary? Yep. True? Welllllll…..sorta.

The truth is less than the headline promises, of course. Here’s a quote from the lede:

“A review of evidence suggests an increased risk of a malignant type of brain cancer cannot be ruled out. However, any link is not certain – they concluded that it was “not clearly established that it does cause cancer in humans”. (My italics.)

News sources may get away with this, as cynical readers discount their headlines as sensational. We marketers cannot play so fast and loose with our readers, however. We must stick to a higher standard if we want to retain our audiences:

  • If you make a promise, deliver. Write a headline that is catchy, but truthfully reflective of your content.
  • The corollary is: Create compelling content that can support an attractive headline. Don’t try to pass off miserable stuff with a fancy ribbon.

This cellphone-cancer headline is a classic exaggeration of the facts, and a great example of what NOT to do. “Crying wolf” in your headlines is a sure ticket to falling audience numbers over time. Resist the strong temptation to gussy up average content with racy leadins!

The Perfect E-mail can be so simple!

I have written about some of the basics of crafting good e-mails for Forbes.com (see the one about subject lines here.)

Just today, I got a great one that I have to share as exemplary of a good, simple, straightforward event invitation that still managed to be completely engaging. What did it get right?

Engaging subject line that recognized me as a marketing professional.

Intriguing opening paragraph that offered intriguing content that was valuable to me whether or not I responded to the e-mail.

Brevity: It took only a few seconds to figure out to what I had been invited.

Clarity: The benefit to me was right there above the fold. And using “12 things…” is a newish industry practice: People love lists and a sense for the size of the presentation.

I hope this helps define good e-mail practices for you.

(I should note that this is not a newsletter. Different rules apply to them, notably the freedom to add multiple interesting topics and write longer.)