Writing Effective E-Newsletter Copy – Part I: The Basics & The Headline


This next series of posts are written to specifically help you with creating effective ad copy.

Before we get into some specific considerations for your ad copy, there are a few important over-arching thoughts to keep in mind about your e-newsletter sponsorships.

First, your sponsorship is essentially “an ad for an ad”; the objective of your ad should not be to make a sale or tell a complete story by itself, but rather to get your prospect’s attention to want to learn more. How they’ll learn more is either through an immediate click to more information, or they’ll recall your name at a later date when the timing is more appropriate for them to learn more about you and your offerings.  The immediate click takes the form of web traffic while the targeted branding and exposure the e-newsletter provides creates the opportunity for the future click. It’s an unrealistic expectation for a single email ad to sell anybody on anything.

Secondly; the role your e-newsletter sponsorship is playing for you is that they are providing an early stage opportunity for you to influence your customer’s opinions, in many cases before they are even looking for a solution like you offer.

Finally, like all advertising – the best copy evolves over time. You should accept that you might make mistakes, so be prepared to test alternative creative, landing pages, headlines etc. for your campaign. Most importantly, take your time – don’t rush your copy to meet a deadline, solicit feedback from others and examine other ads that run in the e-newsletter you are placing your ad in.

With that introduction, let’s now get into some specific considerations for your ad.

 Part I: Ad Headline

Just as a successful email marketing message has a compelling subject heading to grab attention in a recipients inbox, your e-Newsletter ad needs a headline to hook the end-reader to read further and to click even further still. Avoid using jargon, whether it’s technical talk, corporate slang or industry buzzwords. You don’t need to impress readers with your technical mastery, focus on just giving them the facts in plain English. Instead of “jargon”, keep the focus on “what’s in it for them” and the headline should be tailored, where feasible, to the specific type of individual you are hoping to attract.

Let’s consider two examples.

Example #1:

Let’s use a fictional software company, called XY, and they publish a software product designed to help companies better manage and schedule maintenance requirements for their manufacturing machines and assets, the software is titled XY:EAM. The specific target job role that XY is looking to attract is someone in a management or supervisory role, ideally with the responsibility of overseeing maintenance processes. Knowing this – what would an effective ad headline read like?

 Let’s compare two headline variations:

 Sample A: “Decrease unscheduled equipment downtime right from your desktop.”

Sample B: “XY: Worldwide leader in enterprise asset management (EAM) software”

Which one fits our suggested guidelines of focusing on “what in it for them” without utilizing technical talk, corporate slang and jargon? It would seem like Sample Headline A has a bit of an edge to gain a prospect’s attention, especially those faced with a similar business challenge of dealing with unscheduled equipment downtime, whereas Sample Headline B has more of a corporate branding intent to associate the EAM acronym with the company, which isn’t the intent of XY’s campaign.

Example #2:

Let’s use a well-known manufacturer of motors and drives, one of the top names in a very “crowded” industry, for example purposes, the fictional company name is “Core Motion”. Because of the competitive nature of the motor’s industry; new application-specific product releases and product improvements are a very common way to increase or even maintain market share. With “Core Motion’s” most recent e-newsletter campaign, they are trying to drive interest and awareness for recent improvements to an award-winning line of motors and drives for washdown-duty applications, such as food and beverage processing.

Knowing this – what would an effective ad headline read like?

Let’s once again compare two variations:

Sample A: “Core Motion: Best Washdown Motors Getting Even Better”

Sample B: “Washdown motors built specifically for your harshest applications”

 Which sample headline accomplishes Core Motion’s objective?

 This is a great example of why we strongly urge trying different headlines for your contracted insertions, as selecting the most compelling headline between these two isn’t as easy as our first example. However, it would seem that once again, Sample Headline A would trigger the curiosity required to turn an e-newsletter browser into a “Core Motion” ad reader.  We would typically recommend avoiding the use of subjective words like “best” in a headline, but in this example – “Core Motion” has the proof to back it up due to this ad focusing on the release of innovations that improve upon their award winning ‘best in class’ line of products. Additionally, Sample Headline A is leveraging the existing market leading brand strength for their “Core Motion” name that will create instant recognition among readers. Sample Headline B wouldn’t necessarily be a bad option either; but it appears to be more appropriate copy for a lesser-known brand trying to break into harsh application markets.

Coming up in next week’s post – the ad copy itself.

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