I have this really sweet Darth Vader house key. My old, boring house key with zero force powers was bent, so I decided one day while at Home Depot, that today was a good day to get a new key.

I use that key to open my front door, but I also use it’s lightsaber capabilities to open boxes, letters, and the occasional ornery bag of hot dogs. Because that’s what keys do: the open things.

Headlines and email subject lines are the keys to content for your church.

They have one sole purpose: get your audience to open something, such as an email or to click on an announcement link. And unless they’re as cool as Darth Vader, they ain’t clickin’.

So you, the church communicator, have to learn how to use headlines and email subject lines to entice your audience to read the content you send them. That is unless you really love it when people say “Aww man, I didn’t know about that event!” even though you sent them, like, 40 emails about it.

But here’s the good news…there are formulas that you can use to help you with this. I’m going to share what I’ve learned and at the bottom of this blog, link to a blog that will change your life, as it did mine.

Let’s talk about a few headline formulas first…

Irresistable Headline Formulas

Do {desirable thing} in {unexpected way}

Maybe advertise your Bible reading plan with “Enhance your prayer life in 10 minutes per day.” Or maybe you can promote your men’s conference by saying “Who knew hanging out with a bunch of dudes eating BBQ could be so life-changing?”

Basically just find a way to say that coming to the event is going to help you alleviate some felt need/pain point. Always remember that your audience, no matter how Christian, is thinking “what’s in this for me?” So make sure you tell them!

I Found a {Adjective} Way to {Get Incredible Outcome}

This one is my go-to blog headline. Write to parents of your students and start with “I found a crazy way to get your kids to come to church” as the headline. Then you can write about your new youth program or the kids event coming up, etc.

I also like using numbers with this one, which is pretty simple and since I’m a list guy, I love it. “9 things your kids wish you knew about them.” or “6 ways to have tough discussions about sex with your teenager.” Clicks for dayz.

Now, couple that with content that’s actually good, and you’ve got something. There are several more, but many of them take a little bit to rework them from the sales wording and into something you can use to promote events or get your people to read your eNews, so I’ll leave that to you to peruse at the link below.

Most of you probably don’t write blogs or think about advertising copy much, though (I hope you do), but I know EVERY one of you probably sends an email newsletter of some sort. Just like the headline is the key to get you to read, the email subject line is the key to get your audience to open.

Email Subject Line Formulas and a Few No-No’s

Before we talk about formulas, let’s make sure we cover these no-no’s first. I promise, doing anything here will cause your open rates to go down, which means your people won’t see the info, then they won’t read it, then they won’t show up, then you’ll get frustrated. Let’s avoid that.

Don’t ask a yes or no question (see the last blog).

Don’t label it with newsletter #243 or use the same subject every time. Boring.

Don’t take a random line from the email and make it the subject. Lack of context.

Don’t make it so cryptic no one understands it. You’re not that mysteriously interesting.

Don’t forget the preview text. It’s often what helps them decide if they are going to click.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. This isn’t an exact science and trends come and go. Find what works for your context.

Ok, some easy formulas for email subject lines.

Using data: {Percentage} + {Unexpected Thing}

“Over 16% of those who open this will receive a prize.” For your Newsletter, try to take something that is in the email and say it in a way to make it interesting. If you are talking about your upcoming mission trip to Colorado, say “23% of Texans who ski are bad at it. Are you?” Inside the email, make your announcement about the ski trip by saying “We’re not sure if you’re a bad skier or not, but you can still come on the trip. Etc”

The trick on these is that you don’t want to lie. You can’t just make up stats, so you have to do a little digging for actual data. We’re not trying to manipulate anyone here.

How to: How to {avoid or get attention-grabbing thing}

“How to enjoy this spring break with us” is a great email subject line to announce the events of a typically low attended week like spring break. I also like “How to attend a Christmas service at your church.”

For some reason, people like to learn past college, so draw them in with meaningful information. Just please don’t beat them over the head with it with something like “Christmas service times” as the subject line. Although, now that I think about it, I might open that one. Maybe Christmas is a bad example….I digress.

Direct Question: What were we thinking when {benefit}?

Asking questions is good as long as they are not easy to say “no” to. Ask a question like “Do we like the same Christmas songs?” or “What are you up to over the break?”

You may even want to avoid capitalization too, to make it look more like an email from a friend like “what are you up to over the break?” I’ve done this before and it’s a nice change of pace. It works because that’s how regular people send emails: with the subject line in lowercase.

Remember, you are just trying to get them to open the email or read the announcement. If you would like to know a painful amount of formulas and tricks for headlines, subject lines, and beyond, I dare you to click the link below. It’s where I learned just about everything I know about these formulas, so I have to give massive credit to CopyBlogger.com and CopyHackers.com

Good luck absorbing the TARDIS!

Source: Copyhackers blog

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