"What's in it for me?" In this world of overfilled email in-boxes and extra helpings of spam, this question is the silent-but-constant standard for the decision to read it or delete it (or, in the case of articles/blogs, to read it or look elsewhere).

Interesting case: I was hired by a client last week to create new headlines for several articles and blog posts he'd written for his web design & development business.

One for one, the articles were super-informative for a small businessperson.

But one for one, the headlines were ... flat. Ineffective. No way anyone would bother clicking on one to read the article.

And, again, one for one, the problem with each was exactly the same: There wasn't so much as a hint of benefit to the reader in any of them. ("You want me to give some precious time to your article? Well, how will I benefit?") So, no benefit = delete.

Example: For an article about website security, my client's headline was "Do you have control of your website?" That might pique one's interest as to why they might want to have control of their site. But there's no benefit implied.

I offered 16 alternatives, including:

  • "How Taking Control of Your Website Can Prevent Loss"
  • "Avoid Frustration: Take Control of Your Website"
  • "How Taking Control of Your Website Reduces Risk"
  • "Don’t Get Screwed: Take Control of Your Website"
  • "Safeguard Your Business: Take Control of Your Website"

See the difference?

Sure, we're not talking Shakespeare here but each one gives the business owner the idea that there is something he/she could benefit from knowing. Each signals a benefit.

If you don't write a blog, you can still use this idea to strengthen your email subject lines so more people will read your messages. I am sure you can figure out other ways to use this advice.

Or, if you want, call me 323-646-2469 or email me and let's discuss your marketing goals. 

(Originally published on LinkedIn 3/17/15)