Managing the Double-Edged Sword of Teaser Emails

teaser emails

I want you to look at these two emails below and decide for yourself which one is better.

Barring the fact that anything to do with drugs gets people’s interest, there is more zing in the Priceonomics (on the left) email than SearchSOA. Now, let’s understand why.

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  1. It is a teaser through and through.
  2. It is brief and gives you no inkling about what could be in the article as opposed to SearchSOA’s email, which gives away a little too much information.
  3. It uses an image (best way to get more brownie points).
  4. It has a single core message so you don’t have too many messages vying for your attention.
  5. And lastly but most importantly, it has a killer headline.

Now, let us understand in detail how to send out awesome single email teasers like Priceonomics …

It All Starts with the Subject Line

A few days ago, I ordered a handbag for my sister from Vera Bradley. And now I am receiving email newsletters from them almost daily. Here are some of their email subject lines and I can’t make heads or tails out of most of them:

  • Here, There, Anywhere
  • Late-night craving? You are in for a treat!
  • Pretty as can be…

Your subject line can either make or break your email campaign. Too short and you come across as lazy; too long and you come across as boring; too revealing and you drive away the need to click; too mysterious and you come across as abstract; too funny and you come across as cheeky – there isn’t an easy way to master the art of writing great subject lines.

You can take cue from listicle websites like Makeuseof and Buzzfeed and learn how to write killer subject lines for teaser mails. Here are a few examples of headlines from these two sites:

  • 2 Chrome Extensions Are All You Need to Manage All Your Cloud Storage
  • 3D Printing Scams: How Con Men Leverage New Technology
  • Are You A Bagel Or A Doughnut?

All these headlines have a suspense value and are click-inducing. They are ‘there’ but not ‘completely there’; for instance, you know they are talking about Chrome Extensions but they leave you wondering which ones will help you manage cloud storage.

In case, they had used the headline “All You Need to Manage All Your Cloud Storage” you would think it was one of those articles that summed up cloud management strategies and not open it. But they knew the combination of quick Chrome extensions and cloud storage will work wonders, and they used it to their advantage. So don’t leave out the important parts from your subject line, even if it gets a bit longer.

Here’s another interesting read on subject lines.

Last but not the least, include teaser text that acts as the snippet of your email instead of using the regular text – Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view in browser window. Many times, this text can’t be seen in the email but is visible just below your subject line in the email preview area, and it makes you look bad. Here’s an interesting article on pre-headers.

Free Images vs. Custom Images

The biggest mistake you can make when sending out emails is not using images, and the second-biggest mistake is using free stock photos. If you are a small-time company, it is understandable that you are hard-pressed for time and money. So stock images may seem like a good idea.

However, you run the risk of your email looking very dry and run-of-the-mill. Custom images make a greater impact on your audience.

With so many free tools like Piktochart and Canva helping you create customized images in just minutes, it would be unwise to hanker after those boring ‘free’ images. Below is an example of what I am saying – please compare it with some free image options for “new user” or “pixie dust” in your favorite stock photo site. See what alternatives it gives you.

Body Copy

Another important part of the email is your body copy. Body copy with a single core message and image, as seen above in the Priceonomics and HelpScout examples, work best.

You can include more messages and images in weekly roundup emails but keep your body copy crisp, minimizing it to below 100 words if possible.

Body copy should not reveal all the content of your article; rather, it should generate more curiosity. So create a summary or gist of your article and announce what’s to come.

Look at the following example, the headline is perfect but the body copy rather spoils the whole effect. It seems that in order to not give away the answer to the question “Just How Big Is WordPress Exactly?” the sender has included an auto-generated snippet from the start of article. This has resulted in an utter disconnect between headline and body copy.

Compare it with this email from Adecco. The headline says –

Infographic | Are your salaries competitive?

I know it is an infographic (what’s to come) but not if my salaries are competitive (suspense).

It’s a perfect teaser headline for an email. Now let’s consider the body copy. See how they have taken the suspense further in body copy without letting the cat out of the bag.

The common and important thing about the above two emails is the single call to action that leads to a landing page. Make sure the template you use for your emails has such a call to action that leads to a corresponding landing page on your website. Email marketing suites such as GetResponse include the ability to create such landing pages with lead forms, editable images, and almost no coding, so you don’t need a design professional to do this.

But There’s a Catch…

Don’t create teaser emails unless there is a natural occasion for it.

If you don’t have something new to say or a surprise to unveil, it would be better to leave teasers alone.

For instance, an eCommerce website sending out daily discount emails would be better off with:

15% off on Sports Merchandise | Team Jerseys, T-shirts, Hats

compared to …

We Have a Surprise For You

A daily surprise is no longer a surprise.

Over to You

So, I just described what I think is the best way to handle the double-edged sword of teaser emails.

Did I miss out on any important aspects of creating or managing them? What are your views and experiences with teaser emails? Have you used them before and more importantly, have they worked for you? I hope to hear from you with your opinions and views in the comments.

Sword Photo via Shutterstock

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Pratik Dholakiya Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few.

One Reaction
  1. I am learning more about e-mails with the latest posts here on Small Biz Trends. It pays to just think of yourself in the shoes of your market. It makes it easier to think about how you’ll word your emails.

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