What marketers can learn from New York city street signs

During my daily, eight-block voyage from the train station to the office, rarely do I take notice of the hundreds of signs enticing me to buy “the best coffee in the world” or take part in some “epic annual sale.” In order for a street sign to really capture my attention, it needs to be unique, creative and compelling. It needs to stand out from the dozens of others sharing the same sidewalk.

One morning, after walking past the daily bombardment of signs lining the street, I opened up my Outlook to an inbox of 100-some emails, each of which claimed to be urgent or “high priority.” I scanned the list of subject lines and began to open each email not chronologically, but rather in the order that they captured my attention. It was at that moment, I realized that my Outlook inbox was no different from the city sidewalk, a hub of short one-line messages attempting to lure my interest.

Just like a street sign, the subject of an email needs to draw the attention of the reader in a concise, yet compelling way. For that reason it’s important we draft each email subject carefully, because you only have one opportunity to convince a consumer to open your marketing email.

When drafting email subject lines, I try to stick to the following rules:

  1. Get to the point. Imagine you only have the room on a small, street chalkboard. Aim to create pithy statements that can convey your message in 45 characters or less.
  2. Change it up! When sending an email campaign, make sure you test a variety of subject lines. Keeping things fresh will help sustain interest.
  3. Use creativity and humor and avoid mundane, business jargon. Consumers are people, not robots, and are more likely to respond to messages that seem to have come from a fellow human. Make them smile as they walk through your door.
  4. Keep it personal. Mention locations, activities or events that might spark an interest with the reader. However, do not place the name of the recipient in the subject line. This tactic has become customary among spam artists and could impact your credibility with the consumer.
  5. What about them? Asking the reader a question is a commonly effective means of sparking their interest.

These are just a few ideas on how to make your subject line standout. Do you have any other attention grabbing tips? Comment below.