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What Can Email Marketers Learn from Old Fogies?

The Snapshot

  • Use techniques like humour and shock tactics in email headlines
  • The type of language in headlines can effect open rates
  • Be creative with your turn of phrase

Print advertising use to be the most important medium for companies to promote their products and services. Advertisers competed for the attention of readers in newspapers and magazines across the World. The headline was the most part of the advert. It had to be eye catching and provoke the reader into viewing the rest of the ad. Email marketing headlines can be thought of in a similar light. If your headline isn’t engaging then your click through rate will be low and your subscribers may dump your mail in their spam folder. Let’s look at some vintage ads and see what we can learn from them.

Be Over the Top

Source boulevardelantique

This headline is written to grab the viewer attention. The sentence is simply stating a fact but does so in a draw dropping manner. The headline uses exaggerated capital letters and language that sounds over the top to capture the reader’s attention. Email marketers can use similar techniques to make sure their email gets opened by their subscribers.

Be Creative with Words

Source boulevardelantique

Vintage advertising may have been sexist but their headlines certainly grabbed the reader’s attention! This advert uses innuendo to capture the attention of a male reader. For email marketers: be clever with your turn of phrase and think about how you can use words to capture the attention of your subscribers.

Be Shocking


shocking ad
Source Heldovermovies

Using shock tactics is one of the oldest copywriting techniques. You can adopt this approach to increase the click through rate of your email marketing campaign. The headline has to be relevant to the emails content but you can use language that carries dual meanings and shock value.

Use Humour

vintage medical newspaper-ads-baldness
Source skydancingblog


Humour is our most primitive emotions. While this advert was probably not supposed to be humorous at the time, it now provides comedic value.  You can use humour to draw in your email subscribers and engage them with jokes and funny headlines.

Ask a Question

Ask a question
Source imagui

The style of advertising may have changed over the years but the fundamentals remain the same. In this advert the headline uses a question to grab the viewer’s attention. The question is supposed to resonate with married women. While this type of question would be laughed at in today’s advertising industry, the technique can still be applied to email marketing headlines.  Questions lead readers into the following text and the same method can be applied for leading subscribers into opening your email.

Print advertising has progressed over the years but the fundamentals can still be applied to email marketing headlines. Before you write your next headline stop and think about your subscribers. Be creative and write a headline that will capture their attention and lead them into your campaigns objective.