Before we get stuck into this topic, let’s just take some time to consider emails in today’s world. After all, is there anybody out there who’s not getting enough emails on a daily basis?
The answer? A highly probable – no.
In fact, people are probably getting too many emails, as recent statistics indicate that, by 2018, the average worker will be receiving 140 emails per day (the current figure is 121 per day). It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the top reason for US Internet users unsubscribing from emails is because they receive too many emails in general.
Research conducted by Fluent, LLC revealed that, 57% of email users find the communication they receive “never” or “rarely” useful, 29% said they “sometimes” find it useful, and only 15% said it was “always” or “often” useful.
So, how do you make sure you’re constantly giving your customers the information they’re looking for to increase your email open rate?
According to Entrepreneur.com, what people really want to see in their inbox is:
- Relevant, timely information
- Personal invitations
- Benefits or rewards for acting quickly
- Fresh news that’s relevant and useful
- Necessary information
If you’re already offering this to your readers – great. If not, here are some tips and tricks that’ll make sure your emails are the ones people are clicking on – and interacting with.
Creating Catchy Email Subject Lines
The first thing a customer’s going to see is your email subject line. This is your unique opportunity to grab their attention from the get go. So, how do you make them read the title and click on it?
First thing’s first, email recipients are increasingly savvy, which means they can smell a spammy email from a mile away. That’s why you’ll need to avoid any of the following in your subject line because these words/phrases are what readers are associating with “spam:”
- Special offers with the words “percent off”
- Lengthy subject lines
- Requests for help
- Statements that are simply too good to be true
- Donation requests
- Exclamation points “!”
- Bait-and-switch tactics
Instead, you need to use your email subject line to capture their attention. Keep it short, intriguing, and to the point, offering them just enough information so they know what the email’s about but without giving too much away so they want to click on it. Trying to make your email look good by using cheesy phrases is, unfortunately, going to leave your email in the pile of “unread” items in your recipients’ inboxes.
When you’re reading email subject lines on a regular basis, you’re probably only taking in the first three to five words, which is why you’ll want to get the most important part of your message in this section. This is particularly important if a large portion of your email users are using tablet or smartphone devices to read them.
To create a clickable subject line, try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would make you want to open an email? And what would make you delete an email without opening it? Understanding this will help you create a subject line that appeals to your customer base.
HubSpot has provided a number of examples of stellar subject lines, which include:
Question about [goal]. Got a question for your users? Keep them guessing and make them read your email to find out what you want to know the answer to.
Do not open this email. This may sound like it’s doing more harm than good but you’d be surprised just how tempting this email subject will be. Think about what you were like as a toddler – when someone told you not to do something did it make you even more determined to do it? Well, the principle’s the same with your email recipients.
Hi [name], [question]? Provoke an answer with a question while also personalizing the email for the reader. Asking questions often makes a reader want to open and reply.
Did you find what you were looking for? This is great for website visitors who are clearly looking for something in particular. Find out how you can help them.
X tips/ideas for [challenge]. Provide your readers with some helpful advice as to how they can overcome a certain problem. Inserting a number in the subject line will also generate interest.
Where is the love? Lost one of your customers or not seen them for a while? This provides a tongue-in-cheek approach to the situation while also sparking some interest.
Writing Attention-Grabbing Content
When it comes to writing the content of your email, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you attract and keep your customers’ attention.
- Personalize your message with a one-to-one approach. Write your emails as though you’re talking to someone you know. This will enable you to craft the email with a conversational tone of voice, making your reader feel as though you’re talking directly to them, not to masses of people. Your readers want to feel as though they’re special, so make it sound like they’re the only one who’s got this email.
- Avoid techy or corporate chit chat. If you’re following the above guideline then you should be avoiding technical jargon, corporate speak, and sales pitches at all costs. You wouldn’t talk like that to your friend so why are customers any different?
- Maintain a positive tone. By sticking to content that’s relevant, fresh, interesting, and useful, it’ll help you generate content that’s positive. It should also allow you to create outstanding subject lines, too.
- Use sensory or emotional words. This goes for the subject line too. Use words that reach out to the customer and attract attention, while also making your brand seem personable.
- Keep it short. It’s important that your emails are easy for your customer to digest, so keep them short and simple. Your customers have got busy lives too so you need to capture their interest without taking up too much of their time. Do some research to find out what information they’re looking for, what they find useful, and what challenges they face. Then, make sure your emails are offering all of this to them, by specifically telling them why you’re getting in touch with them and how this email can help them.
- Use a good sign off. You’ve created an outstanding email but how do you end it? By making sure there’s a clear call to action. Make it easy for your customers, whether they need to make a phone call, visit your website, or download an eBook. If you want people to download an eBook, write “Download our eBook now to learn more.”
Getting the Format of Your Email Right
Even if your online store or website is properly formatted for mobile device use, it’s highly likely that your emails are also going to be read on a mobile device (up to 56% of recipients open emails on their phone), which is why you need to get the format right for all types of devices. Short and skimmable is the ideal style, adding to how impactful and meaningful your email will be.
- Use short, well-spaced paragraphs. Try not to go over five paragraphs when writing an email and make sure each of these is short. Use plenty of spacing in between your paragraphs to ensure the email content is easy to digest and can be skimmed through.
- Make sure the email is “readable.” When we refer to “readable” we aren’t just talking about the content that’s written within it but the type of font used to display this content, too. Use a font that’s easy to read (e.g. Calibri, Verdana, or Arial), avoiding any fonts that are too scrawly or are novelty-based (e.g. Comic Sans). Additionally, while often overlooked, it’s important to keep in mind visually impaired customers when choosing a font and color scheme.
- Create content that flows. To maintain your readers’ interest as they scan through the email, it’s important to tell a story. Create a compelling header that they’ll read when they open the email with other key points highlighted throughout. Think what will keep their attention as they scan through the email, remembering to have key pieces of information in the areas that receive the most focus. According to eye-tracking studies, the majority of focus is given to the left-hand side, the headlines, and your intro copy.
- Use images – but not too many. Don’t just send one big image and use several images throughout your copy to demonstrate your point. Having one big image can lead to a number of issues, including some people being unable to load it, a risk of it being sent to spam, no preview text being available, the email being slow to load, and the recipient being unable to find your email when they search their inbox. Equally, don’t overload the email with lots of images, practicing the same “short but simple” approach to your images like you are your content.
- Offer a plain-text option for every email you send. As well as your HTML-optimized email you need to send a plain-text version. This makes sure your email will work on apps and email accounts that can’t handle HTML. It’s also preferred by spam filters who look for both versions, and some people prefer to read plain-text emails.
Handy Email Marketing Tips
To help you maximize your email marketing strategies even further, here are some more great tips that’ll make you stand out from the crowd:
- Be consistent with how you deliver your emails. It’s crucial you remain consistent in how often you’re sending your emails and what you’re including within them. If you’ve told customers you’ll be getting in touch with them once a month, this is what they’ll expect, so it’s important you deliver this. Equally, if they’re expecting news and offers from you – send these to them. The aim is to engage with your audience so they habitually open your emails every time you send them.
If you’re not sure how often you should send emails, look at the stat provided by Mapp Digital, which suggests that customers find once-a-week emails preferable (the second highest choice was once a month).
- Send the email directly from your inbox. Instead of using “sales@” “no-reply@” “email@” or something along those lines, send customers an email directly from your own email address. Having an unpersonalized sender prevents you from establishing a relationship with your target audience, whereas personalizing the emails builds your brand, giving your audience someone they can relate to.
- Send your emails at the optimum time. Schedule your emails at a time when you know your customers are at home, on lunch, or browsing the Internet. This may take a few trial emails but once you know the time when you get the best open rates, start sending your emails then. Use analytics to see what times/days are best.
- Don’t communicate if you’ve got nothing new to say. If you’ve got something that’s going to help your customers, get in touch with them. But if you haven’t, refrain from sending a nondescript email. Your audience is looking for things that’ll help them save money, feel better about themselves, or learn from, so write to them when you’ve got something to give them. Don’t just get in touch for the sake of it.
You might have got to the end of this guide thinking “I already do most of that.” However, try what we did. Look at the last 10 emails you sent to your customers to see if you’ve followed all of these tips. You might find there are areas that could be improved, allowing you to create stand-out emails each and every time you communicate with your customers. It’s also worth looking at all of the emails you send to customers – not just the marketing ones.
What are the emails customers get when they sign up to your mailing list like? Could you create a more intriguing sales confirmation email? What about a more exciting shipping confirmation email (just make sure your 3PL service integrates to directly send it out!)?
By doing this it’ll be surprising just how much you can fine-tune your emails so you’re continually improving your open and click-through rate.
Still hungry to know more? Then check out the guides we recommend below:
Sumo.com – For further reading on some of the best subject lines out there, check out this blog by Sumo. It features a whole host of different types of emails and the best formulas for putting these into practice.
HubStaff.com – A great list of some of the best email marketing campaigns ever seen.
Pardot.com – Case studies of different email marketing campaigns.
Kissmetrics.com – A beginner’s guide to email marketing.