How the Brooklyn Public Library Drives In-Person Engagement with Email

Getting people to take action isn’t easy—see how BPL makes it happen

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We all get a lot of email. With office workers receiving an average of 121 emails a day (and more when they’re not on the job), it can sometimes be a struggle for marketers to cut through the noise and successfully engage their audiences on this powerful messaging channel.

But with the right approach (and the right subject line) it’s possible to use email to drive significant real-life engagement. To see that kind of marketing in action, let’s take a look at a great email from the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) that helped drive more than 1,000 attendees to an in-person event.

The message (and what makes it special)

Brooklyn Public Library Email

The Brooklyn Public Library’s eye-catching, engaging email

1. The subject line nails it

While shorter subject lines are often popular, there’s something to be said for a longer one that really has something to say. By giving this email subject line the nine words it needs to make its case, BPL manages to both emphasize the date of their upcoming event and drive email opens by whetting recipients’ curiosity about what, exactly, is coming on May 7. That’s impressive, and worth the extra words.

Keeping your subject lines on the shorter side tends to be a good move, but marketers see strong results with a wide range of subject line lengths—the key is having something compelling enough to get recipients to open the message. For longer subject lines, it’s smart to lead with something important that will encourage people to read the whole subject line; that’s what BPL does here with “On May 7” and it works like a charm.

2. There’s an eye-catching image that tells a story

Brooklyn Public Library email image

When you open this email, you’re immediately greeted with an image that encapsulates the content of the message to come. A person wearing a bike helmet, to highlight the fact that the email is aimed at bicyclists. The Brooklyn Public Library’s iconic doors. The name of the event. The date it’s happening. And one very enthusiastic model.

Before you’ve read a word of the copy, BPL has managed to convey the email’s essential elements, teeing recipients up to be persuaded by the rest of the message.

3. The copy is engaging (and to the point)

BPL’s event has a lot going on—bike-related giveaways, guided rides (including a Dora the Explorer–themed bike ride for kids), plus food vendors and a beer garden hosting live entertainment and arts and crafts—but the email handles the challenge of covering all that information with aplomb.

The use of bullets makes it easy to skim the message and get the essential points fast, even on a smartphone, and the voice is persuasive and even funny (“Bring your friends! Bring your mom! Bring your dog! Bring your friend’s mom’s dog!”) throughout, making the email a joy to read.

4. There’s a clear call-to-action that pulls it all together

While the message has a link at the top for readers who are instantly sold on taking part in the event, it’s the closing call-to-action that really stands out. After showcasing the highlights of the event in the body of the message, BPL closes the email with a clear CTA that also notes that taking part in the event will help provide financial support the library’s systems local branches. That’s a compelling final touch, and one that helps reinforce the mutually beneficial relationship between the library and its patrons.

Anything else?

Every aspect of BPL’s email is well-crafted and appealing, but what’s really special about this message is how each element—from the subject line to the image to the copy to the CTA—reinforces their central message. That elegant construction makes it easier to keep the reader’s interest and minimize drop-off between email open and event sign-up, helping BPL drive significant real-world attendance using this messaging channel.

Interested in putting together a great email marketing strategy? Check out our look at mastering mobile email and consider using multichannel messaging to bolster the impact of your email outreach.

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