The Underrated Component of Modern Email Marketing

Back in the Mad Men era of advertising, David Ogilvy once said:

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

The modern version of Ogilvy’s statement applied to email marketing reads like this:

On the average, five times as many people read the subject line as read the body copy. When you have written your subject line, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

When you consider that email open rates hover around 20% according to MailChimp, Ogilvy’s adage applies perfectly in the digital age. But the fact that email subject lines disproportionately affect marketing success is no secret. However, what is new, is the increasing importance of using the space that iOS and Android make available for providing a preview of emails in push notifications.

As smartphone screens become larger, more space has been made available on phones to provide a second “hook” right after your subject line. Take a look at this example on my (now outdated) iPhone 6 Plus:

In this example I created at Codecademy, the subject line appeals to the recipients’ curiosity due to the novelty of the new update released. Then right below, there is a call to action with “Come take a look!” and a short summary. This short paragraph below the subject line is not part of the human-readable text of the email but rather part of a machine-readable hidden div at the top of the email’s content.

By creating a hidden div at the top of the email with an abbreviated message that is tailored to the context, this email announcement more effectively draws interest from its intended recipients. And when you’re competing against dozens of others daily for attention on the push notifications screen, every advantage you can get counts. It’s what I like to call a more “cohesive consumption experience”.

Have you seen other examples where the email push notification text is utilized in an effective and tasteful manner? I’m curious to know.

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John Marbach

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03 2018

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