What's Your Hook? How to Consistently Get Your Campaigns Opened, Read, and Clicked

lx4ka3gq2 hook featuredimagecopy
If your contact loses interest, you’re done. They’ll open less and less until they stop altogether. After that, it’s just a matter of time before they click the unsubscribe link to declutter their inbox.
How can you prevent that? How can you send campaigns that capture your subscriber’s attention?
For months now, I’ve been paying attention to why I open campaigns from certain senders. I’ve found a couple of interesting things. First, I only consistently open campaigns from a handful of senders. The majority of the email I receive from businesses I either glance at or delete without reading. High-quality senders are rare. But, that means the companies doing it right stand out that much more.
Of the handful of senders I consistently open and read, the only common thread is that they consistently do something that sets them apart, something unique. These companies have a “hook” they utilize across their campaigns. I open their campaigns because I value that hook. It captures my attention. They reliably deliver whatever that hook is, so I know I won’t be disappointed.
Here are a few of those senders, their hooks, and how you could adopt a similar approach in your campaigns so your emails get opened, read, and clicked:

qm5hmd8g2 thehustle
Sender: The Hustle
Who they are: Business news digest
Their hook: Exquisite content

The Hustle’s campaigns aren’t visually striking. They’re very simple and more or less the same every time. A single image then a wall of (fantastic) text:
e0aya3gtt image2016 10 20at3.27.32pm
You don’t open these campaigns for the design, though. You open because their news digest is always on point. Their copywriter is incredible. I’m not even all that interested in the world of tech startups, but I open and read those emails religiously — much more consistently than I do any other sender. The writing is witty, humorous at times, and it keeps me up-to-date on the latest news in just a few minutes. I’m confident that, if I read their newsletter, I’m more or less up-to-speed on the most important changes in the industry.
How you can send like The Hustle:

  • The Hustle focuses less on visual elements of their campaigns and more on the quality of the written content. By prioritizing writing over visuals, they invest more time into the point of the campaign.
  • Do a fantastic job of summarizing the most important news in a particular area.
  • Be funny. If you have a good joke, use it. If it’s so-so, omit it. If you can’t consistently come up with good jokes, humor might not be the hook for you.
  • Read great writing. Study great writing. Practice great writing.
  • Help people overcome information overload by curating and compressing information on a certain topic of interest to your target market.

Sender: Chubbies
Who they are: Clothes for college-age men with great thighs
Their hook: Quirky personality, random content, & creative subject lines

I signed up for the Chubbies newsletter on the recommendation of a friend who said their campaigns were some of the best, most unique email campaigns he’d seen. That was an understatement. Their campaigns are a random mixture of entertaining gifs, Spotify playlists, odd events Chubbies is hosting (such as golf cart racing), and, of course, new clothes. I never know quite what to expect, but I’m usually curious enough to take a peek. I’m not their demographic, but they’re still my favorite sender.

Also, the subject lines! They are subject line wizards. I’ve never seen such creative subject lines. They frequently modify the sender name and the subject line so that they work together:
3wmxnud2z image2016 10 25at8.33.31am
NOTE: We recommend you use caution when modifying your sender name. It could affect your deliverability because people are more likely to mark your messages as spam if they don’t recognize the sender name.
Could your company get away with subject lines like these? Probably not, but most companies could benefit from getting outside the box a bit.
How you can send like Chubbies:

  • If you’re naturally a unique person, full of personality, why not let that shine through in your campaigns? If that’s not you, there are probably better hooks out there for you… don’t force it.
  • They provide value outside of just notifying of new products. Their playlists are excellent. Their gifs are hilarious. Their random content is entertaining.
  • Experiment with your subject lines. If you find something that works really well, use variations on that theme throughout your campaigns.

0a6ak8lgw image2016 10 20at5.32.48pm

Sender: Scott’s Cheap Flights
Who is Scott?: Deeply-discounted, international flights
His hook: Amazing deals

I signed up for the list after the buzz around the office built up. I heard one of our developers flew from Chicago to Dublin for $540 and I opted in. I’m not trying to turn this into marketing for Scott, but she told me she’s saved over $1,000 between two flights!
The second reason I love this sender is because opening Scott’s emails are a guilty pleasure. I see all the places I’d like to visit (if I had more vacation time) and briefly fantasize about what it would be like to go there. Then I close the campaign and get back to work. One day though… one day I’ll book that flight to New Zealand. Thanks for keeping hope alive, Scott.
Scott also gets right to the point, which I love. You open his campaign and see exactly what you were looking for:
zqbbb2lze image2016 10 20at5.30.46pm
How you can send like Scott:

  • Consistently send discounts and incredible offers
  • Keep your campaigns simple but vibrant and visually appealing.
  • Send well-organized campaigns. Use a consistent layout.

1xzdryqd8 image2016 10 20at3.57.21pm
Sender: 1xRun
Who they are: Limited run prints from artists
Their hook: Time-sensitive, very limited offers

When you get an email from 1xRun, you need to open it quick. If they’re featuring a run from a breakout artist, it might be sold out hours after the campaign hits your inbox. They make only 50 prints of each piece.
These campaigns display the work of talented unknown, up-and-coming, and established artists so, of course, their campaigns are visually striking. They’re usually much more lengthy than your average campaign so each one is an epic visual journey. To give you some sense of the amount of content they include in a typical campaign, here’s a 34-second gif of me scrolling quickly from the top to the bottom of one of these emails. Each time one lands, it’s like a virtual trip to one of the biggest & best art studios in the country.
How you can send like 1xRun:

  • Send time-sensitive campaigns
  • Use limited availability to create scarcity that motivates people to act quickly and pay attention
  • Send so much content, there’s something for everyone.

8i5qpscco image2016 10 20at4.01.56pm

Sender: Jimmy from Swipe File
Who is Jimmy?: A guy that curates the best content for marketers
His hook: Links to curated content

I don’t know how he does it, but Jimmy finds the best-of-the-best marketing content and delivers it to my inbox each week. He briefly considered canceling his newsletter but his subscribers talked him out of it. That’s how much his subscribers love his emails. We should all be so lucky. It’s not luck though, he’s doing something very right.
If you’re a marketer, I encourage you to sign up. The links he sends are consistently top notch and sometimes obscure articles you can’t find by just paying attention to your Twitter feed or GrowthHackers.
How to send like Jimmy:

  • Be useful.
  • Focus on quality and providing value.
  • Help people deal with information overload. Curate the best of the best content.
  • Care. Jimmy cares about his subscribers and is doing his best to deliver what they want. He really wants to deliver value and his effort shows. His sincerity emanates from his messages.

Never miss an update