Invite an audience to open your email


Leads invite you to read a story. A straight lead gives a chronological summary, an anecdotal lead teases us with something relevant, while a zinger baits us with an attention grabbing sentence. Then there are feature leads, summary leads and question leads that leave us curious.

Great leads make us read a story.

Email subject lines are similar. They invite your audience to open your emails.

They fight for our attention but subject lines like: “I am working all weekend for you,” make me nervous.

Bland subject lines disappoint me. “Something amazing is heading your way…” (Qatar Airways). Do I really care?

And, the perennial mediocre subject line: “Time is running out…” (Sling TV) makes me wonder if people ever open those emails. Let’s not forget the end of the year routine: “How will you start the year off right?” (Zoc Doc).

Subject lines that tickle my ego for a response make me anxious. “You are the expert…” (Indeed). If I am an expert, I wonder who the other reviewers are!

15 years ago, I tested subject lines to mobilize volunteers during Hurricane Katrina. Simple, specific subject lines got the most effective results: “250 volunteers needed: 6 pm at Salvation Army.”

People want clarity and a call to action.

Here’s an effective one from my child’s music school reminding me of her guitar lessons on Mondays: “Allegro: Lesson reminder.” Or, the apartment complex that says: “January rent due,” instead of “buy one get the other half off.”

Hotstar, an Asian streaming service recently had an interesting email subject line: “IND V SL. Jan 5. Stay Tuned.” Cricket lovers get this. Hotstar will stream a match between India and Sri Lanka on January 5, so stay tuned. Isn’t it better than: “Don’t miss the epic match of the century…”

I was disappointed when the “Houston Chronicle” carried the following subject line for their December 31 newsletter: “New cash crop is a tasty crustacean.”

A better subject line would have been: First baby of 2020.

Will AI kill keyword gurus in 2020?


letter oneThe Internet grew. New terms like search engine optimization (SEO) created thought leaders, book publishers, keyword specialists, and gurus of search.

Our vocabulary created many enterprising business models in the last decade.

We promised the corner cupcake store owner higher rankings on search engines. She got data on traffic, visits, referrals, direct hits, and examples of organic growth, half of which she never understood.

We became experts in search making money on similes, metaphors, and the unused thesaurus. But one thing remained clear: websites that created authentic, fresh, valuable content gave search engines a run for their money.

Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes coffee for you, runs your inventory, manages your supply chain, and delivers profits. AI will easily drive your web traffic to the top spot of search engines.

You don’t need a digital marketing agency, a search engine specialist or a keyword expert. The middleman will vanish.

Firms like WordLift, Woorank and Alli AI are helping businesses get higher search engine rankings without an intermediary. If you have reached maturity in online marketing you will rely more on AI this decade rather than search engine experts.

But folks like me will depend on books like Word Power Made Easy, by Norman Lewis. There is a difference between original and artificial in our vocabulary and that will never go away.