subject line Posts

How NOT to follow up with your trade show leads

I’ve been to enough conference/events/trade shows over the past few years to see all the tactics that vendors use to collect contact information:

  • Prize giveway sign-up
  • Games
  • Food

I attended a recent event as an exhibitor, but had a chance to visit competing booths during some of the breaks in the action.

A few weeks after the event, I received the following e-mail from a vendor (I’ve slightly modified the text to keep the vendor name private.) I must have filled out a registration card or given them my business card.

Are your event follow-up tactics on target or shooting in the dark?

Are your event follow-up tactics on target or shooting in the dark?

Thanks for stopping by the ABC booth at the ABC conference.

ABC’s John Doe delivered his presentation [The Best Presentation Ever] to a completely full theater at the recent ABC show.  If you missed it or would like to see it again, John will be giving that presentation again in our office at Niceville on January 1st at 11:30. If you would like to attend or send a friend, you can sign up at

 I had a few challenges with this post-event follow up message.

  1. Who is this John Doe person? Was I supposed to know him? I wasn’t aware of him from the conference guide. He certainly wasn’t a thought leader.
  2. Where is the ‘Niceville’ office? I live in Texas, and I have no idea if the event is happening near Seattle, Washington, Orlando, Florida, or Chicago, Illinois.
  3. There were also a few egregious grammatical errors in the message, causing this vendor’s credibility to drop dramatically.

My company does its share of event follow up e-mails. We don’t have it perfected (far from it), but we try our best to avoid some errors that could have easily been avoided.

Be cautious the next time your company is connecting with attendees post-event. Understand how it important it is to be specific; vagueness causes confusion immediately.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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What has 5 feet and plays music really loud?

We recognize the familiar: A car with four wheels; a coffee maker with an on/off switch; a football game with two teams in different colored jerseys.

What happens when things are different? When something seems out of the ordinary?

  • Would you turn your head if a car cruised down your street on three wheels?
  • What if your coffee maker had a yes/no/maybe switch?
  • How about your neighborhood football team running out for warm-ups against its rival with the same colored jerseys as their perennial foe?

When events such as these occur in our lives, we remember.  Undoubtedly, we ask ‘why’ and probably want the familiar back. Such anomalies leave indelible marks.


Yamaha: What has a 5th foot.

I didn't hesitate to open this e-mail.


I recently received an e-mail from Yamaha with one of the most intriguing subject lines in recent history: What has a 5th foot. Yamaha took the ‘typical’ and made it ‘atypical’ with this campaign and product design.

We don’t typically look at the legs of our stereo for long periods of time. If you do, we have to talk. Most people probably haven’t given it a second thought since the stereo was unpacked from the box. It turns out that the extra (5th) foot is smack-dab in the middle-bottom of the stereo. According to Yamaha, this ‘added foot’ features “Anti-Resonance Technology designed to greatly improve structural rigidity and reduce vibration”; the result: better sound.

I can’t vouch for the sound quality, nor can I guarantee that this ‘5th leg’ campaign and product feature will cause stereos to fly off the shelves, but I can say unequivocally that this e-mail subject line and copy got me interested. In this ‘always-on, always-everywhere’ world, if you have my interest, you’ve made great progress.

The lesson:
Don’t be different just to be different. Be different to make a point; highlight a benefit; showcase an advantage. Yamaha didn’t just add another appendage to their stereo to win a design award; they made the change to bring us better sound.

If you have a legit reason to be ‘blue’ when all your competitors are ‘red’, then go for it. You might find out that your customers pay attention, open their wallets and help you grow your market share.

One last thing: if you happen to see a football game where both teams have the same color jerseys, let me know; I bet the chaos is legendary.

Until next time,
Dan Naden

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Learn how Southwest Airlines excels at e-mail marketing

Southwest Airlines is ALWAYS cited as a customer-focused, fun airline. When I fly Southwest, I know I’ll be uniquely surprised by the pleasant, cheery nature of everyone involved – from pilots to flight attendants and gate workers.

Amazingly, Southwest continues to deliver fantastic service at incomparable prices in the airline industry.

Everyone LOVES a deal (me included!!). I recently signed up for Southwest’s ‘Click ‘N Save’ newsletter in hopes that I could save some money. I’d like http://www.southwest.comhttp://www.southwest.comnothing better than to open an e-mail with huge discounts to far away exotic places, or perhaps a low rate to visit my brother or parents.

If you own any business (large or small), and are doing (or have thought of doing) e-mail marketing, there’s plenty to learn from Southwest Airlines.

1.    Subject Line
Let’s start with the subject line. If your ‘customers’ don’t like or don’t understand the subject line, they won’t open your e-mail – period. You may have the sharpest graphics or the ‘most slick, well-written copy known to man’ within the e-mail, but it is money wasted if the e-mail is not opened.

Southwest’s subject line: Say goodbye to winter with warm-weather travel

This particular e-mail’s open rate in snowy climates like Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore must have been HUGE as workers snuggle in for the long work week. I used to live up north. By mid-February, you are ready for the spring’s triumphant entrance. How many vacation hours do I have left?

2.    Call to action
Imagine that you’ve written a wonderful subject line like: Say goodbye to winter with warm-weather travel. Your customer is now taking time out of their busy day to read your e-mail. What are you going to do with those precious seconds?

Southwest nails it within their e-mail by stressing the urgency with ‘3 Days to Save’ and ‘Book by Thursday’. If you were ‘on the fence’ about vacationing, you are now convinced. It is time to pick up the phone and call the wife, husband, or significant other about those vacation plans NOW.

Southwest maximizes the brief window that they have with their customers by gently prodding: DO IT NOW.

3.    Pleasant
Sure, this is subjective, but this e-mail just puts you in a good mood for a Monday morning. The color scheme is very pleasing to the eye. Yes, you may have meetings all-day, but Southwest makes it very convenient to take a few minutes and book that vacation that you’ve been delaying for too long.

The imagery – from the wide-pan of the city of Sacramento to the lady lounging on the inner tube – pulls at our emotional strings. To put it bluntly, when I can picture myself in Sacramento, or floating on a tube in the ocean, I am ready to spend money.

Follow these 3 tips from Southwest Airlines and get your e-mail marketing on the right track.

Vacation anyone?

Until next time,
Dan Naden

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3 Tips to Getting your E-mails Read

1. Keep it short and sweet. People don’t want to read a dissertation. If you need to have a discussion, set a meeting, or make a phone call. It helps to read over the e-mail and see if there are parts you can remove. If in doubt, keep it brief. People are busy.

2. Make the subject line compelling. We get A TON of e-mail these days. People have very short attention spans and you need to really grab their attention to keep them focused. Whether it’s an e-mail to a friend, colleague, boss, or prospective client, use language that would give them a compelling hint at why they should invest the time in YOUR e-mail, not the other hundreds that they have waiting in their in-box.

You receive an e-mail from your boss after a team meeting. Which e-mail are you more likely to open based on the subject line?
Good: The most important thing I learned in the meeting was….
Bad: Regarding the meeting we had last week….

3. Make it easy for them to take the next step. What are you trying to accomplish with your e-mail? Are you selling something? Are you informing a friend about golf round, movie night, or party? Venting to a co-worker?

Consider your end goal in mind with each e-mail you send. If you are pushing the recipient to click a link, then make that link the most visually-important element on the page. If you want your boss to consider a project idea for an upcoming meeting, convincingly set the stage for the meeting in the e-mail and then get out of your own way.

Good luck.

Until next time,
Dan Naden

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