So today I was re-reading my second-hand copy of Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples.
(Second-hand because I had to hunt for the 4th edition … the one that all the cool kids in advertising read. Not that terrible “updated” 5th edition … ugh.)
It’s one of the classic copywriting books …
i.e. typical reading for an ad geek like me 🤓
But one part really caught my eye.
It was when Caples listed what he said were the only four things that make an ad headline successful:
4. A quick, easy way
Now, this book was written in 1974.
So Caples was no email copywriter. He was talking about newspaper ads.
Yet in my own experience as an email copywriter, these four rules are still the same — and in the same order, too.
My most successful emails are always the ones that promise a specific benefit in the headline …
Followed by the ones which announce something newsworthy …
And THEN are the curiosity-based ones.
Of course, you can mix and match. And the best subject lines do.
But still, it’s a good reminder to those copywriters whose subject line repertoire is things like “lol, wtf?” and “hey, quick one …”
(Oh and they’re ALWAYS in lowercase too. You notice that? Like, come on. Even my mum capitalises her subject lines, so idk what these people are playing at. Use the shift key, you moron.)
So, the lesson?
When in doubt — benefits beat curiosity in subject lines.
(Note the very deliberate way I titled this email you’re reading now)
Anyway, today’s daily tip was for all the copywriters out there.
You non-copywriters — you get the weekend off.
But hey. If you do need a copywriter …
P.S. Proof of the contents of this email: aside from my epic welcome email, my most-opened email of all time (since I started tracking this stuff) is this one …