I know your dirty little secret

Ha!  I made you look, didn’t I?


The key to a great piece of content is the subject line.


Doesn’t matter if it’s email, a Facebook post, AdWords copy, blog post, or postcard delivered by the Post Office.


If you don’t catch their attention right off the bat, they’ll never open your message. So all that work you spent crafting your message goes down the toilet.


And your dirty little secret?


Most of your content is never read.  That’s right– people don’t see your tweets or care about what you had for breakfast. They care about themselves. That’s why I called it “your” dirty little secret, as opposed to mine. Do you really care about me?


Here are a few simple solutions to this problem:


  • Recycle the content. 


Let’s say you have a great whitepaper that you invested a lot of time to write. You can put it out there multiple ways— on twitter, your blog, email, slideshare, whatever. If you mention it only once, but have a crappy headline, then people won’t see it.


  • Try some one-liners.


Maybe your first subject line just fell flat. Hey, we’re not all born stand-up comedians. Odds are your email program allows you to send your subscribers a follow-up email if they don’t open the first email. The content can be exactly the same. You just try a different subject line. Once they open it, don’t feed them the same body again.


  • Inject emotion or intrigue into your messages.


Pretend it’s the high school cafeteria and that you have the latest gossip. Admit it– we’re still kids, just older. My favorite headlines are from Nathan Latka as well as the folks behind Obama’s email campaigns, Take these for example:


  1. we made this for you – 71.5%
  2. We’ll be live in 30 min, should we wait for you? – 65%
  3. Only open if you want revenue from Facebook – 55%
  4. The contest you wanted to run – 50%
  5. Guess what your customers spend 197 minutes a day on? – 47%

It’s the non-formal, uncapitalized subjects that catch people’s eyes. It makes them feel like someone took time to pay attention to them– Short and sweet is the way to go.


So your dirty little secret is that people don’t care about your content— unless you make it about them!  Would you have read this post if the title was “A few reasons why your open rates are low”?

Dissecting a Con Man’s Scheme

I received the message below on LinkedIn this afternoon.


Did you know that “con” is short for “confidence”? The objective of the con man is to establish trust– an emergency on their end that will appeal to our opportunistic greed.

Remember “Crazy Eddie’s” electronics from 20 years ago? He was on TV acting “crazy”, smashing TVs with sledgehammers while yelling, to establish insanity. If you believed him to be nuts, then you’d believe him to mark down prices below cost in a momentary lapse of judgment.

The psychology is fascinating. It can be applied to legitimate marketing. Some elements of “trust” in the scam below:

“… to hear your voice as to be sure I’m dealing with a real person, not online scammers”. Well, of course I am not an on-line scammer, you say. How dare you accuse me! I will email your throwaway email right away so that I can send you 5% of the $7.2 million dollars, straight to Nigeria.

Spelling errors. That’s instant loss of trust. Odds are that your website is suffering from this, too. We caught a simple grammatical error on our site just yesterday. They’re in your marketing materials, proposals, and website. If you don’t think you have any, ping me. Identify these and kill them.

Trust marks. If this came from a friend or if the person sending the message was from a reputable organization, I’d be more apt to consider it. How many connections do you have on LinkedIn? How strong are your business’ reviews and recommendations? Are these displayed prominently on your homepage (above the fold) and in your customer-facing documents? Odds are your landing pages are losing half of potential conversions because you lack these.

Specificity. Instead of saying $7.2 million, say $7,294,945.15. More believable. Do your marketing materials make vague claims about how your products are somehow just “better” without any quantification? Go to looksmart.com, a once high flying internet company, and see them trumpet “Expect quality. Demand results” on every page. Sounds almost like Target’s “Expect more. Pay less”.

Back it up in spades. Looksmart’s user interface doesn’t jive with their tagline. Nor can they pretend to be the leading search engine in 2013 with a straight face. What are specific, provable items you can reference that back up your claim to excellence? With us, it’s our expert citations in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, NPR, and other sources.

Have them initiate. The power of inbound marketing is when you get them to come to you first. Then you’re the expert authority, as opposed to the cold-calling sales person we all run from. Info on your services are a click away, so you better be delivering consultative advice versus a hard sell. The role of outbound sales for all but the most narrow markets is dead. Publishing your expertise openly in top forums, conferences, and your blog is in.


If you’re still reading this, then let me thank you and mention that it means you are always striving to be a better marketer. You want the latest techniques to generate more sales for your business, despite how busy your schedule is. Do you have tips to share with the community here? Are there items you’d like me to cover? Let me know below!