Subject: Open this Bookish Email (Please)
Susan Ruszala, NetGalley President
I spend an alarming amount of time thinking about how to get readers recommending new books on NetGalley. And probably an equally alarming amount of time as a book consumer: weekly library trips, purchasing books of all formats and genres, from all kinds of outlets, reading book reviews, joining book clubs…the list goes on. As a result, I receive a TRULY alarming number of emails advertising books.
This week we conducted an informal study on book-related email subject lines. Over the course of 4 days, I received nearly 100 emails advertising books and made a few fascinating observations. What makes you open emails?
1. Most people who receive your emails have a calendar. There are some times when it’s important to include a date. I get it, and we do it, too. But I get these same emails every week. Unless there’s some connection between the date and the content you’re trying to sell me, this idea goes stale pretty quickly. Just saying.
Weekly Interesting Reads
Saturday Ebook Newsletter
Your perks/deal/etc for Monday (and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday….)
Look at this week’s books from [company]
[Company] Weekly Update, March 10, 2014
Have a terrific Tuesday with these books | Celebrate Wednesday | Get ready for Saturday (every week I get this collection!)
Book matches for March 11; March 12; March 13
Weekly Book Newsletter No. XXXX
Friday Free Books….
P.S. Keep in mind that dates are displayed differently throughout the world: I got one email this week with a date of 10/3/14: they meant March 10, but I read October 3. And if you’re in the US and sending an email to anyone in Australia, your Tuesday newsletter might actually arrive on Wednesday.
2. Keep me interested. If your email subject line is uninspired, I probably am too. Here are a few examples.
[email address]: Books (this one was from a major retailer!)
Download Issue #2 of our Monthly Magazine
[Company] – Available Review Copies
New Recommendations for You from [Company] (not bad once or twice, but I get twice a week.)
Not just free books — great books. Sign up.
New Books on Offer… Be the First to Read!
March 2014 Great Library Resources
Free Ebooks From [company]!
3. If I care about your brand, I’ll usually open the email.
This is the caveat to #2. If I’m getting value from your content, subject line is less important. But of all the emails I receive, only a tiny percentage follow that rule. One example is from Powell’s Book store: I’m a big fan, and subscribe to their Daily Dose email, which features one book per day recommended by a patron. Same subject line each day. That program fits into my time-crunched life, and their book choices are spot on. Check plus.
4. Give me a hint, but the right kind of hint. I love when an email highlights its content in the subject line, if:
- It’s not too long (here’s an example: Spring into books: Review-A-Thon, series to re-read, Library Haul, quotes and book reviews). Now I’m overwhelmed.
- It’s relevant: Featured Title: XXXXXX. Featured for whom? Why?
- It’s interesting, unique or mysterious. See #5.
5. So what DID I open this week? Quite a few, actually. Many incorporate the points above but in an actionable or relevant way.
This Week: Life Through the Eyes of Famous Wives (timely, not just time-oriented)
A Groundbreaking New Book on Creativity (I just loved this one—-I wanted to know more)
It’s finally here! The new series from the author of XXXX
A stunning new YA novel by an award-winning author
Bestselling Coloring & Children’s Books: Butterflies, Steampunk, More (the word bestselling is generic, but then I get all of these interesting categories)
Literary Fiction Giveaway: [book title] (yes! A giveaway, but genre so much more helpful)
A Magician More Powerful than Dumbledore: [book title]
Shake off the winter with spring’s best new books
Libraries’ Most Avid Patrons Read Books Daily (so intriguing…tell me more)
We’re learning more about how to make meaningful connections with readers every day—it’s hard work! Apologies if I’ve picked on a subject line you created; no malice intended. And if there are ways we can make our emails to you more beneficial, we’d love to know.