How to get people to open your emails
Some things in marketing are pretty black and white. For instance, the most favourable times to post content to social channels or the optimal length of a blog. On the other hand, some things can feel like they have no rhyme or reason. Particularly, email marketing. It’s one of our most fundamental activities, yet one of the most significant offenders.
I have personally experienced the frustration of feeling like I’ve written some cracking copy for the body of an email, then open rates show it’s hardly been read. Talk about wanting to hit your head against a brick wall! So, what have I learnt about how to not only drive those email open rates up, but get better engagement levels across the board, too?
What do you look for?
Generally, employees spend around 16% of their working week doing emails. And the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. Per DAY! That’s one busy inbox. I don’t know if it’s more a blessing or a curse if the majority of them are actually work-related or not…
Sometimes, it can feel like we barely have the time to open and respond to necessary emails, let alone peruse those that pique wider work interest! So, how can we ensure our recipients make the time to open our emails?
One of the most straight-forward things to consider is what makes you open an email. For me, I click on the emails that provoke thought, offer an alternative view about a current affair, or that come in the form of bite-size, digestible newsletters that offer just enough, but not too much.
Their content may differ, but they all have one thing in common: an inviting subject line.
The significance of subject
The 5 or so words you choose to introduce your email are probably the most 5 or so important words of your campaign. So, working and reworking those words is a good place to start – after all, they’ve got to be compelling enough to drive someone away from their lengthy to-do list for a little bit of focussed reading!
- Incorporating your recipient’s or business’ name instigates personalisation off the bat, as well as fuelling attention. It also helps to make them feel special, building a sense of loyalty. ‘Auto-Motive Manufacturing, this Industry 4.0 insight is exclusive for you!’
- Use action verbs to provoke excitement. For example, ‘Meet Georgia Halston Personally!’ is far more catchy than rather than ‘Marketing Agency Director Hosts Meet and Greet’.
- Ask a question to create intrigue, like ‘Are you making this error?’, or to provoke direct thought: ‘How many times did you make this error last year?’.
- Get creative! Emojis in the subject line are a great way to make your email stand out from the hundreds of others in a regimented inbox, but it’s imperative to make sure they’re relevant!
Who is your audience?
Now you’ve got your recipients opening your email, you’ve got to keep them engaged. It might sound obvious, but there’s no use in emailing your audience about something completely inapplicable. I continually get emails from companies promoting their video services to a marketing agency that provides its own (rather snazzy) video services…
To avoid being put in the bin, make sure the relevancy of your content is demonstrated early on. And make sure it’s interesting to read! Provide new information through interesting copy that maximises the topic’s relatability to the audience. Remember to jazz up the aesthetics for the ultimate appeal-factor through impressive stats and infographics!
Give your readers what they want
In our full-on, on-demand world, shorter sentences work better (and not necessarily just in email copy). Though I whole-heartedly resent the sad state of affairs that the paragraph’s structure is being redefined to barely three sentences long, I benevolently understand why.
Time is precious, and time is money. The ability to get to the point quickly allows your reader to understand and extract key information rapidly. For instance, if you are writing an email that targets a specific pain point or a particular persona, make sure you tailor the content to your solution and how it overcomes their obstacles.
Effectively sign-posting them to the next steps, further reading, and/or how to find more information helps to increase receptivity to your email, helping to establish a loyal audience.
Calls shouts to action
The latter point leads us nicely on to the importance of clear calls-to-action (CTA). You’re emailing about an upcoming webinar? Make it obvious, and put the event near the start.
Your first CTA can be the most direct, and arguably simple: ‘Register for our next webinar’. Though we can assume the people that click on the first CTA are the eager beavers, they’re probably the people that have decided they don’t have the time to read the rest of the email, because… Your first CTA achieved exactly what it needed to!
The recipients that need a little more persuasion to cross the finish line will look for reasons in the body copy. And the variety of action verbs you filter throughout your following calls-to-action, which can be a little softer in their approach. Even a simple ‘Find out more about email marketing’ opens up the topic, without forcing your intended outcome (that you’ll still get because your supporting landing page dedicated to email marketing – and the upcoming webinar – will do the trick!)
There will be some that are quite frankly just not interested in your next webinar. But, that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in you! Always offer the means to snoop your socials and capitalise on the ability to divert your audience to your Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram channels. Remember to write a line or two that makes them actually want to go there.
Tone of voice
We’re used to seeing emails end with privacy notices, preferences, and unsubscribe buttons. How about ending with a clip more information? I’ve found this to be a really great way of driving engagement for both those that were just about to click off, and those that want more!
Depending on your audience, rounding off with lines like ‘P.S. Did you know about our upcoming webinar?’, a simple ‘Remember to sign up to our next webinar!’, or even something a little more direct, ‘Enjoyed this? Discover more!’ are a way of adding some bonus information, insight, and even personality (where appropriate!).
Slowly but surely, emails, be them B2B, B2C, in the form of customer comms or sales, are becoming more informal. Granted, a ‘friendly’ or ‘humorous’ tone of voice (TOV) isn’t suited to all emails. But, audiences are generally far more receptive to emails that feel like they’ve been intended to be read by a person.
For instance, using second person pronouns like ‘your’ over the definite article ‘the’ give the email a direct, rather than general, feel. Don’t forget that the person reading your email is a person, not a robot – they’ll want to be addressed like one!
On the whole, best practice for the creation of email copy is to always be making refinements. Trial and error isn’t something to shy away from – your results may surprise you, in exceptional quantities!
For more information about our email marketing services, get in touch!