email or junk mail?
Posted in email marketing

Your email marketing campaign will only succeed if recipients read your emails.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Well, duh!” But do people read your emails?

The inbox challenge

I don’t know how you tame your inbox, but I clear mine every morning by deleting as many messages as possible unopened. My routine is all about snap decisions. The emails I open are from people I know, like, or trust. The rest of the crowd needs to offer information I value.

  • Read immediately: email from clients and people I’ve actually met.
  • Read later: email from people who provide easy, specific, short business lessons, unless the subject line tells me the content addresses a problem I currently face.
  • Snap decision: I don’t read the subject lines from the rest of the senders, I scan them. If the words that catch my eye make me think the value of the content will exceed the cost of my time to read it, I keep the email to read later.
  • Delete: everything else.

According to my research, most people use similar filters to get through their inboxes. So, what can you do to encourage people on your mailing list to open your emails?

  1. Know your readers.
    • Make sure they asked to be put on your list.
    • Know what information they need.
    • Know whether they read on mobile phones or tablets/computers.
  2. Make sure the sender is clearly you. That way they’ll learn to associate your name with valuable information.
  3. Provide valued information far more often than sales offers. And they’re busy – keep it short.
  4. Now we get to the email subject line.
    • Tell them clearly and concisely what the email is about.
    • The first 2-3 words (50-ish characters) should do the heavy lifting. Subject lines are often cut off by the program the reader uses or because they’re reading on a cell phone. “Email subject lines that work” is better than “How you can write successful subject lines for your emails.”
    • Don’t trick them into opening your email by using false FWD or RE. When readers know and distrust you, they’ll delete your emails, label them as spam, or unsubscribe from your list. That’s a high price to pay for one open.

How do you decide which emails to open? How do you compose subject lines? Let’s discuss it in the comments.