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Get Prospects to Read On and Buy: 5 Keys to an Actionable First Line

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Writing that makes ‘em sit up and listen.

With prospects making the decision to read on, throw it away or hit “delete” within four seconds, a lot is riding on the first words of any marketing collateral.

Don’t let go
Here are five ways to hook prospects with the first line.

  • Use active voice. Using active voice not only makes copy more effective, it requires fewer words to get the point across – a plus when dealing with time-strapped prospects.
    Example: “The Size You Need Is Stocked By Our Store” versus the more active “We Have Your Size.”
  • Put benefits front and center. Why wait until the meat of an email, white paper or research study to address what a product or service can do? Prospects want to know right away they’ll get something out of a product or service. Addressing what they stand to benefit in the first line of the copy increases the chances they’ll read on.
  • Remove negativity. Subject lines littered with negative words leave bad impressions. Why? Negative words always stand out the most.
    Example: Richard Nixon declared, “I am not a crook.” But all the public remembered was crook.
  • Make every word count. Shorter is usually better when it comes to subject lines. But longer ones can work. The key is making sure every word is essential. Can the headline say the same thing without a certain word? If so, get rid of it.
  • Provide Visuals. If the email, white paper or research study contains product photos or images, use them. The most effective subject lines work in tandem with visual elements. Visuals that work best show some distinctive element of the product or service.

Reprinted with permission from The Marketing Report, 370 Technology Drive, Malvern, PA 19355, 800-220-5000.