Nailed Your Copy? Think Again.

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by  Kim Stiglitz My team and I produce a lot of content for VerticalResponse. In doing so, I also edit a ton of copy. Sometimes after ...

by Kim Stiglitz


My team and I produce a lot of content for VerticalResponse. In doing so, I also edit a ton of copy. Sometimes after reading the same content for what seems like the millionth time, I have a “Eureka!” moment. In these moments, copy that I have read and re-read, or wrote and rewrote, takes on a new perspective, or I see it though a different filter and everything changes (much to the chagrin of my team). You may have encountered this yourself when you had copy that you’d been using fairly successfully and felt pretty good about. Then one day, someone comes along and reads it, asks you a question, or points something out that you never thought of and, “Eureka!”
So if you’re fairly happy with your copy, and the results you’re getting from said copy, then good for you. But, if you want to get even better results, then maybe it’s time to take your copy, turn it on its head, and have your own “Eureka!” moment.
Most recently, I was re-editing some emails we send to folks who’re participating in one of our free VR Social trials (you can get one of your own here). Some of the messages were time-based and referenced the fact that the trial would expire in “X” number of days. I focused specifically on the subject lines of these messages, which included a “countdown” until the trial ended. While this was great for driving a sense of urgency and giving the user a reason to take action, it became clear the messages sounded threatening and off-putting, considering we were “giving” a free trial.
Previously, we were reinforcing: “Your free trial is ending in 60 days,” “Your free trial is ending in 30 days,” “Your free trial is almost over.” The messages continued with these “threats” and I felt like I’d been hit over the head with a bat. What were we trying to do? Bully our users? Of course not. So I took the copy and turned it on its head. I made a few simple changes and completely changed the tone going from the negative to a more positive, action-oriented subject line.
Here are the BEFORE subject lines:



Here are the AFTER subject lines:




These email subject lines are still being tested, but what’s your marketing hunch? Will they beat the original versions?
What other copy flips can you perform? Consider the following:
  • Short copy vs. Long copy
  • Benefit copy vs. feature copy
  • Email solo vs. a series of emails
  • Single idea subject lines vs. multi-topic subject lines
  • Conversational tone vs. business tone
Ultimately, you need to match your copy and tone to what is appropriate for your business and industry, but sometimes it’s also nice to do something a bit unexpected to see what happens. We recently created an ‘out of the ordinary’ series of promotional emails and used food as the inspiration. We had fun creating catchy subject lines that would really pop in the inbox. For example, the first email put combined email marketing and cupcakes…(really).
Here’s a glimpse:
VR Promo
In the subject line (circled in red) we pushed the limit with our quirky, “Hey Cupcake” greeting. Turned out that we got some great replies including, “That’s Mr. Cucpake to you!” So in this case, our customers responded to the playful tone and also responded to the offer with hundreds of purchases made. Talk about the icing on the cake!
How can you see your copy through a new filter? What changes can you make? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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#DIGITAL: Nailed Your Copy? Think Again.
Nailed Your Copy? Think Again.
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