10 Rules To Get Customers To Open Your Emails

Email marketing is a smart idea. You go right to your target audience and reach them, on their schedule, when they check their emails. The real skill is writing subject lines and headlines that stand out.

Sure, your emails have value. They inform, they encourage recipients to be part of a community, they help build your relationship. But first they have to be opened. Here are 10 simple rules to get your emails read.

Up your success rate with email marketing software

Even if you’re on a tight budget, the right email marketing tools are worth your investment. Services like Mailchimp and Constant Contact allow you to bolster your email marketing strategy by providing you with tools that let you assemble superior subscriber lists, add new contacts, design jaw-dropping messages and—most importantly—nail your subject line.

1. Pen a wickedly smart subject line

Your email is going to be sandwiched between countless others. Keep your subject line short. Less than 10 words is the industry standard.

Use words like “last chance” or “limited-time offer” to express a sense of urgency. Words like “new,” “discover” and “experience” evoke a sense of exploration. Now go beyond that easy trick. Look through your own inbox and see which subject lines get you to click “open.”

2. Hook your readers with eye-popping preview text

Once you’ve captured the attention of potential customers with a good email subject line, you need to keep them engaged. The preview text—or pre-header text—appears immediately after your subject line in the preview of your email. This is prime real estate, so you want to give as much thought to your preview text as your catchy subject line.

If you don’t have preview text, recipients will see the first line of your email in preview. Craft an opening sentence that captures your audience’s attention to increase your email open rates. Again, find preview text you liked in your own inbox to help inspire you. 

3. Change the sender’s name

A major advantage of using email marketing software is the ability to change the name of the sender. Have your emails come from a person at your organization by editing the sender name (or “from name”) before you send out your email content.

People are more likely to open emails if they come from a company or person rather than noreply@company.com. So, before you send your email, make sure it’s coming from a name that subscribers will instantly recognize.

4. Be strategic about when you send

An email marketing best practice is to send emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Try to avoid sending on weekends, as open rates are generally the lowest on Saturday and Sunday.

Consider your audience when deciding on the best time to send your email. For example, if you’re selling school supplies to teachers, the middle of the school day won’t be as effective as 4 p.m., when their students have gone home. Most people check their inbox in the morning, so 9 – 11 a.m. is generally the best time to send.

5. Get personal

One of the best email marketing tips is to speak directly to your customers.

You can address a personalized email to your customers by using merge tags. Merge tags search your customer database and bring in information pertaining to individual users. Mailchimp lets you easily integrate merge tags into your email marketing templates.

6. Supersize your vocabulary

Here are 18 words that act as jet fuel for subject lines. Try using new words to stimulate the imaginations of your customers. Create dynamic email content that delivers value to their inbox.

7. Deploy call-to-actions

In addition to open rates, email click-through rates (CTRs) are an important metric to evaluate successful email marketing strategies. Your CTR is the percentage of people who clicked on at least one link in your email. Average CTRs hover around 2–5%.

Increase CTRs by adding call-to-actions (CTAs) and relevant links. Phrases like “Shop now” and “Learn more” drive more traffic to your website and convert readers into customers.

8. Run A/B testing

Email marketing requires trial and error. A/B testing helps you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.

Send out two different campaigns to two segments of your subscriber list. Change email design, content, images, personalization or CTAs to determine what provides the most value to your customers. Pay attention to which email version has the highest open rate and CTR and adjust your strategy accordingly.

9. Scrub your subscriber list

High bounce-back rates have a negative impact on your email marketing efforts. Go through your contact list and remove any contacts with dead email addresses until you achieve a 100% delivery rate.

Every quarter, review your email marketing analytics to determine who your most active readers are and remove disengaged contacts. People who haven’t opened an email in over a year are probably not viable prospects. Focus instead on your engaged audience.

10. Avoid the spam filter

Stay out of the spam folders by adhering to proper email etiquette. Refrain from using words like “free” or “buy now.” Exclamation points and all caps can also land your email newsletter in the burn pile.

Change the sender’s name to ensure the email isn’t coming from an obscure address. Be cautious of using dollar signs or coming across as too sales oriented.

Product features may have changed and are subject to change.

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