Have I Got Your Attention?

Jennifer King

My last two posts have focused on the value of e-newsletters as part of a plan to promote yourself as an artist, but it occurs to me that the greatest e-newsletter in the world won’t have any value if the receiver never reads it. So I thought I should look into writing powerful subject lines—you know, those first few words that will show up in a person’s inbox and convince them to either read your email or go straight for the delete button. Here are the top 11 tips I found for writing attention-getting subject lines: 

1. Emphasize the benefit of reading your e-newsletter. As I mentioned in an earlier post, every artist's e-newsletter should contain at least some informative content that educates or entertains the reader while the rest promotes your artwork. You can build your subject line around this content and reveal at a glance how it will help the reader.

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2. Use numbers when you can. For reasons I don’t really understand, numbers always make us take note, so work them into your subject lines if it makes sense. 

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3. Add keywords that stand out. When you think about art, and especially your art, what are the words and phrases that a person might associate with your work? Try to work those keywords into your subject lines to pique subscribers’ curiosity. 

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4. Keep it short, clear, and concise. Given that so many people check e-mail through their mobile devices, which have certain limitations to how much they can show, you’ll want to limit your subject line to 50 or 60 characters max. You can do that by leaving out filler words and writing subject lines that look more like newspaper headlines.

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5. Pose a question. Much like numbers, questions get our attention because our brains immediately start answering the question and interacting with the content. Occasionally, try to engage the reader with a question.

What Are You Doing Friday Night? Art Exhibit Opening

6. Personalize the subject line. If you’ve set up your database correctly, you can use personalization tokens that will pull each recipient’s first name into the subject line.

Jennifer, what are you doing Friday night?

7. Localize the subject line. Another great way to get people’s attention—especially if you have a lot of locals on your e-mail list—is to work in your home city or state. People will identify with you through your shared location.

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8. Avoid turn-offs. You probably know that using the word “free” in a subject line may set off people’s spam filters and prevent them from ever receiving your e-newsletter, but studies have shown that there are three other words that turn people off: help, percent off, and reminder.

 (no) Reminder: Art Lecture Saturday 2 PM

(yes!) Impressionists Lecture This Saturday

9. Invite interaction. When appropriate, you might be able to work in some type of call to action, meaning that you invite the reader to act upon your message in a specific way, such as making a reservation, buying a ticket, or engaging in social media. Depending on the way you phrase it, you might even be able to create a sense of urgency and excitement.

Reserve Spot Today: Workshop Filling Fast

10. Avoid all caps. These days, writing something in all caps is the equivalent of yelling, so it’s best to avoid typing in capital letters.

(no) LAST CHANCE on Impressionists Lecture Tickets

(yes!) Only 10 Tickets Left for Impressionists Lecture Saturday 

11. And finally, test your results. After each mailing, check to see how many people opened your artist's
e-newsletter to help identify what’s working for you and what’s not. It’s fun to experiment with subject lines to see what appeals to your subscribers the most.

Got any other tips on fine art marketing with e-newsletters to add? What works for you? Let’s connect!



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