How to increase the chances of your article being read

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How many times have you seen the subject heading of an email, an article, or newsletter and dreaded opening it or reading on, because you can already imagine what it might contain?  Or just by looking at the subject heading decided not to open it at all and hit the delete key?

A number of people I connect with write on behalf of their local organisation, particularly in #bellringing circles.  They may need to write an email to their members, or their wider community to engage with activities, or recruit new ringers.  They may want to write an article in the local newsletter, or their Association newsletter, or even for The Ringing World.

Carole Seawert came up with some top tips on how a great subject line could increase the chances of your email, article or newsletter being read:

1) engage curiosity – Don’t open this email.  How many times have we heard the story of if you want some news spread write “confidential” on the top and leave it by the photocopier?  That’s a sure fire way for everyone to have heard about it, right?

2) engage FOMO – fear of missing out.  “Only 2 spaces left”. “Last chance”. “Offer closes today”.

3) pain points and a solution – “veggie food your kids will love.”

4) enticing special offers – priority access etc.

5) helpful resources – 10 top tips on how to get your article read.

6) short cut solutions – learn who to write engaging content in 2 minutes.

7) personalise – “John, here’s something you won’t want to miss”.

8) include effective key words like “congratulations”, “upgrade” and “ thank you

9) pose a question that inspires further enquiry – “do you want a 2 for 1 offer on xxx”?

10) KISS – keep it short and simple. No more than fifty characters.

I am not a fan of numbers 1, 7 and 9 personally.

Unless the email was from a colleague or someone I knew was probably messing about, if I received an email that said “Don’t open this email”, I would think “OK then” and delete it straight away.

Number 7 implied some kind of pre-existing relationship, which may be ok with some people but I still wouldn’t expect my name to be in the subject heading.  If I don’t know the person or the organisation, I would not be impressed that they were trying to engage on first name terms.  Someone came to the door canvassing once and called me by my full first name, which was on the electoral role, but a name that I never go by, so I corrected them and said “that’s Mrs C…… to you”. They did not know me had no right to expect any level of intimacy.

If I received an email or saw an article posed in the way number 9 suggested, as it is a closed question my response would be a simple “no”, regardless of what was on offer, and again, I would delete it straight away.

Clearly some of Seawert’s suggestions were targeted at sales so may not be relevant in the circumstances I would be writing for, but there were some useful points to consider.


One thought on “How to increase the chances of your article being read

  1. I also don’t like people using names I have not given them permission to use. Recently I met someone for the first time who used an abbreviated version of my name that only some members of family and very close friends use, and I found it very strange.

    I agree, I also delete emails that start with titles that hint of sales 😉


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