Email Subject Lines and Content Titles.
I’ve often noticed in email marketing that adding a number to an email subject line significantly increases open and click through rates.
The same principle applies to content titles, and even more so lately as workers are more time-constrained and overworked than ever. Adding a number to the title quantifies the value the prospect will get from reading your e-guide or article, and it helps them know whether their investment in time will be worth it. But does adding just any kind of number help? Somewhat, but some numbers work better than others. We’ll explore four ways to use numbers in your content titles or subject lines.
1. Number the time saving
A few years ago we were tasked with writing a couple of e-guides for Documentum (formerly an EMC company). As we searched for a title, it occurred to us that most of their guides were good but very lengthy, often taking 30 or more minutes to read. So when we titled the e-guides we wanted to distinguish them from the longer documents — but also imply good value. We came up with this title: “15-Minute Guide to Document and Image Processing.” Little did we know, we had stumbled upon a real winner. We were told that our e-guide was the most downloaded content piece on the Documentum website for a three year period. We went on to write a series of eGuides using the “15-Minute Guide” concept and they all became download winners according to the EMC marketing department.
2. Number the ways
In the Netline 2017 State of IT Content Consumption and Demand Report, they list the top ten trending content titles offered on their network of millions of impressions. Of the top ten titles, three list the number of ways someone will benefit from reading their content. Here they are:
- 10 Essential Elements for a Secure Enterprise Mobility Strategy
- 4 Best Practices for Monitoring Cloud Infrastructure You Don’t Own
- Top 10 Reasons to Strengthen Information Security with App and Desktop Virtualization
The titles above all quantify how much the reader will learn from the piece and exactly what to expect. This sets realistic expectations and delivers precisely on them.
3. Number the steps
One of our clients does healthcare management consulting, and they produce an amazing amount of content each month on best practices and case studies. We’ve been carefully analyzing their website and social media analytics. The most popular titles included numbers in their titles like above, but also in a different way: many titles list numbered steps. Here are some of their most popular titles:
- 5 Steps to Improve Your Patient Referral Process
- 5 Key Steps to Boost Post-Merger Credentialing
- 6 Steps to Superior Medical Practice Integration
By listing numbered steps they were fulfilling the prospect’s desire for a concrete promise of specific information delivered in a concise and predictable format.
4. Number the Offer
In email subject lines I urge you to be straightforward about your offer. Gone are the days of worrying about a dollar sign causing your email to be caught in a spam filter. (Low engagement scores will cause that, but not the dollar sign.) Tell people what you have for them and be specific. Here are a few examples:
- B2B Marketing: Exchange: 65+ Sessions Spread Across 6 Tracks: Something For Your Whole Team
- Walgreens: Laurie, you’re missing $200+ in savings.
- Choice Privileges: ATTN: Laurie, 3,000 Bonus Points Could Be Yours!
Should you spell out or use numerals?
You might have noticed that most of our example titles have violated style guide rules by listing a number less than nine as a numeral rather than spelling it out. Having studied Journalism in college, I’m usually an advocate of AP and Chicago Manual of Style guidelines. However, in the case of content titles there’s a special sweetness to making the number a NUMERAL that screams quantifiable value. So in this case, go ahead and break the rules and use your numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 to your heart’s content in your titles.
In our busy, over-worked society, people want you to quantify the value they will get from your content. So don’t be shy, tell them exactly what they will learn from you. Adding a number to your eGuide or article title or subject line is sure to raise its popularity and therefore increase your marketing results—and that’s a number we can all be happy with!
By Laurie Beasley, Co-Founder and President, Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc.
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