1/4 Content Directive: More Email Stuff -- Subject Lines, Vaccine Coverage, Sold Placements

 Hey gang!


 Popping into your inboxes for a three-part content directive to ensure we're sending the best possible email as we head into the new year. This one has a lot of important content that SKO, KO, and I all worked on so please read in detail no matter what department you are in, and ask me questions if you have any. 


 Subject Lines


 The goal of each email's subject line is to get as many people to open the email as possible without being deceptive or diminishing our brand. That's it. 


 Because subject lines have precious little real estate (for example, the iOS Gmail app, when viewed in portrait mode, allows only 41 visible characters), every word in your subject lines must provide value.


 The best subject lines:

  • are engaging - they demonstrate to the reader that the email's content will appeal to them

  • appeal to a wide audience - you have thousands of people on your mailing list. the best subject lines will appeal to nearly all of them.

  • demonstrate value - they show our users that they'll be better off after reading our emails. our emails are more than cool words and images: they have real value.

  • have a bit of intrigue - they don't tell the whole story, just enough to bait your curiosity. you have to open the email to get the full scoop.

  • have an element of exclusivity - there are tons of daily emails. ours aren't just good: they have things you can't get anywhere else.

 We do not sell subject line inclusions for any program, including sponsored emails


 We can include sold/sponsored content in subject lines if (and only if) the content is strong enough that we would include it anyway, regardless if there's a spend behind it. In these cases, like all others, sponsored content mentioned in the subject line should be worded in the most concise and enticing way possible. For example, you would say "Best Rooftop Bars" but never "Jack Daniels Presents: Chicago's Best Rooftop Bars".


 Subject lines should also be unique. It can often be beneficial to mention content in a subject line that has been promoted in a previous email's subject line -- but when doing so, it should be presented in a different way. For instance, consider positioning your Rooftop Bars piece as “Where to Drink at Sunset” if you’ve already used “Best Rooftop Bars” in a recent subject line.


 Vaccine Content & National News


 These days, vaccine news is also often music and entertainment news; there's no question that the race toward vaccination is on a large part of our audience's minds and a critical component in getting back to having more fun. Still, we should be careful to always present any vaccine news we share from within the overall context of our brand -- meaning that we should always make sure that any news we share is directly linked to concerts and events in some way, and feels like our version of the news. 


 The same note goes for imagery: We want to make sure that any imagery we use when sharing vaccine updates (or anything else, for that matter) feels like our brand and fits naturally within our daily emails and social posts.


 It also applies to subject lines: We’re not the New York Times. We don’t have - nor want to have - the content to back up breaking news coverage without a direct connection to concerts and events. This goes for stimulus news and national election updates as well: it’s good practice to include these items occasionally, but only when they can be positioned within the context of our brand. 


 Here is an example of a content block that we feel successfully links vaccine news with concert updates. 


 Placement of Sold Content Blocks


 There is only one occasion when we promise a certain placement for a sold content block in an email: Sponsored emails receive a content block within the first two content blocks -- which one is at the Content Manager’s discretion. All other placements are also at the Content Manager's discretion. Within our new email framework this will change. There will be more rules to follow, but they will ultimately make everyone’s lives easier and our sold content more effective.


 While it is natural (and good!) for everyone involved with a sold program to want their clients' blocks to surface as high in the emails as possible, it's very important to remember that the more our emails feel like ads, the more our subscribers will stop engaging, and the less we'll have an audience to sell to. It's also important to note how frequently Content Managers have multiple stakeholders asking them to put their content blocks as high in the email as possible. We can't please everyone, especially when it's at our audience’s expense.


 If you buy a content block in an email, that's what you get: a content block in an email. If it's not a sponsored email, that block does not have to be in any certain place. There can only be one “sponsored email” per email to ensure that the top two blocks are not both paid for. One of the top two blocks should always be organic/unsold unless the sold placement is so awesome the content team wants it in the top two. Again, this will change with the new framework, but it’s critical we start making improvements now.


 It's up to the Content Managers to artfully intersperse the sold content within the organic content to create the highest-quality email possible every day. This is all in the service of making more money: We can't make more money if we don't grow our audience engagement. And we can't grow our audience engagement if we don't send awesome emails.


 Thanks so much for reading today's content directive. Please let us know if you have any questions - and most importantly, have an amazing week!


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