Content, contemplations and commentary from Copywritten

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Blurred Lines

Getting your foot through the door

Subject lines. A thorny issue for those of us who want to communicate with customers and prospects via email. Think of your opening gambit as an elevator pitch - summarise your story in a few powerfully persuasive words and hope it's enough to persuade your audience to want to read on.

It's an inexact science, though. With average email opening rates hovering around 25%, it's worth experimenting with different subject lines to find those that buck the trend. A few tips: optimise for mobile users (around half your audience) by limiting your subject line to
50 words or so; personalise the message, if you can; and consider including more than one topic to broaden your appeal. Oh, and make sure you're covering topics your audience wants to read when they do finally open the door.

For more advice on e-newsletters, check out my SlideShare presentation and email me if you think you've hit on a formula that works - I'd love to share your stories.

I'll just have these, please

If your heart sinks when you absent-mindedly enter a shop, immediately realise your mistake - there's nothing for you here, it's full of teddies bearing the slogan 'I wuv you' and window hangings of rainbows - and yet still feel compelled to browse for a minimum of five minutes before departing with a cheery 'Thanks very much!', you're obviously suffering from that most incurable of conditions: terminal Britishness. More...

English as a foreign language

A close gal pal of mine lives and works in the Big Apple.

I am, of course, insanely jealous. My friend inhabits a chichi apartment block just off Columbus Circle and walks to the office every morning through streets that are instantly recognisable to any aficionado of US film and TV drama; what’s not to envy?

That said, although I often imagine myself in her shoes – ambling through Soho, meeting glamorous people for drinks on a rooftop terrace in Tribeca and collecting some tempting treats from Dean and Deluca for a picnic in Central Park – there is the small issue of the language barrier.

‘Say what?’ I hear you ask. ‘Everyone in America speaks English, don’t they?’ Well, yeah, after a fashion. What we actually do is employ (mostly) the same words but sometimes with wildly different connotations. More...

Have Upworthy-style headlines gone too far?

OK, so we all know that in the gridlocked blogosphere, a punchy headline will help to generate more traffic to our website. In fact, most writers of my acquaintance spend almost as much time finessing a title as they do crafting the article itself.

Not that there’s anything essentially wrong with employing a little hyperbole to lend weight to your story. After all, ‘Cambridge boffins discover the secret to eternal youth’ is bound to cause a bigger reaction than ‘Huntingdon-based research company announces new enzyme for use in anti-ageing face cream.’

But there’s a balance to be struck, natch. Undersell your story and you’ll risk leaving it languishing in the Internet doldrums; oversell it and you’ll only disappoint your readers who may decide not to come back for more. Which brings me to the object of this week’s rant. More...

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