Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 18 September 2018. In this issue:
If you’re an academic publisher and haven’t read this article in The Guardian yet, you need to, even though it’ll make you seethe. You need to to appreciate the strength of feeling against publishers which exists within the academic community, and because this is the context in which you still need to foster positive working relationships with authors/researchers/librarians.
The gist of Monbiot’s article is a familiar one. Publishers are exploitative, reaping fat profits from research that governments have generally funded. Which is immoral. Yawn. (Sorry.) A number of academics have added their strident support and (pirate website) Sci-Hub’s founder Alexandra Elbakyan is lauded as a heroine.
Every time this argument secures air-time and column inches it stokes the resentment in universities just a bit more. How can we counter it? Well here are a few ways.
This is what this short Marketo blog post does, analysing 100,000 emails to see how number of words correlated with engagement. Useful reading as most of us won’t be doing anything similar (though I hope you’re all doing A/B split testing on individual campaigns).
And what were the results? Well, you’ll need to read it for yourself, but the short answer is that they weren’t conclusive. Which makes me chuckle because no matter how much we try to pin our fickle readers down by establishing optimum word length or character count they’ll buck the trend we’ve spotted when we run a new campaign and we’ll be left none the wiser.
I love research like this but the best subject lines are the relevant ones, be they 2 words or 20. And as publishers we really should have an unfair advantage in terms of identifying engaging content.
Read Marketo’s What Email Subject Line Length Works Best? for yourself.
If you’re currently thinking ‘yes, but how do I judge what content will really work in my subject lines?’ there’s still time to catch our Email Marketing Workshop which looks at the topic in a publishing context. Runs in London on 27 September and eBulletin subscribers can book at a special late availability offer price of £275. To claim the offer click on BOOK NOW after the course date, choose ‘other price’ on the form and enter EB£275.
Last week Cornwall Council in the far west of the UK decided that Lands End will officially be referred to as Land’s End in the future (via discussions about Lands’ End, I kid you not). Were they right?
Try typing Land’s End into Google and it helpfully asks ‘Did you mean Lands End?’. There may be an advert for US retailer Lands’ End on the page too.
Personally I find the whole story both amusing and irritating. I’m passionate about the correct use of apostrophes, but this place name is a long-standing proper noun in its own right. Any suggestion of the land owning the end in 2018 just seems silly. Doesn’t it? But the most annoying fact in this story is that the Council sought ‘grammatical input from a Cornish history expert’. Which calls to mind Professor Loreto Todd’s famous ‘This usage was correct once, just as it was once considered correct to drink tea from a saucer’.
The English language moves on, and so should we, whilst fiercely protecting the grammatical conventions that aid clarity (the ONLY thing that matters). I’m currently working on a big copywriting project for a publisher and we’ve just agreed that, in line with current conventions, the use of punctuation should be as light as possible. They don’t want their website littered with more marks than are strictly needed to convey messages quickly and clearly. Quite right too.
Read the Land’s End story for yourself.
The act of copywriting in publishing is never simple: all your colleagues (and authors) will have strong opinions and you need negotiating skills almost as much as you do the ability to write. Our Copywriting Workshops always discuss this and you’ll pick up tips and strategies from other participants as well as from me.
We don’t just run training courses, we’re copywriting for publishers on a regular basis. If you could use an extra pair of hands, drop me an email and see if we could help. firstname.lastname@example.org
Catch up on The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook
We’ve all been entertained by other people’s ‘bloopers’ from time to time. And mostly they wouldn’t have happened if they had stopped for a moment to think ‘what are all the ways my audience could react to this?’, and ‘who WON’T this work for?’. Stopping to see our proposed copy or creative as an objective customer might is a trick worth cultivating. The marketer who tweeted ‘I shop at Waitrose because …’ could have anticipated the enthusiastic responses (eg: Tabitha and Tarquin only eat phoenix eggs that have been collected by wizards who share their values) if they’d only stopped to think for a moment.