How to Get Your Email Opened

E-mail can form a very important part of an overall marketing strategy but only if it is used in the right way. Sending out generic, impersonal or gaudy mail is likely to alienate potential customers, rather than inspire them to interact further with you.

What many businesses overlook is that the e-mail needs to appear interesting enough to open. Therefore the content of an e-mail is one thing, but if you do not think carefully about what a customer sees when they first open their inbox, it may not get read at all.

From Field

The average person will usually scan through their inbox and check out the 'From' list and the ‘Subject Line’ and immediately delete anything they do not like the look of. Whether you decide to send mail using your company name, brand or an employee's name, will depend on the level of previous interaction with the recipient, but always be sure to choose whichever is the most familiar to them.

Subject Line

Once the e-mail user has established familiarity with the sender, the next thing they will do is to assess whether the subject of the e-mail is of interest to them, this means that it is absolutely crucial to get this part right. The subject line needs to not only describe the content, but also tell the user what they can do if they open it, all in around 50 characters!

The subject line should always display fully, otherwise the relevance of it can be lost or misconstrued and it may reduce the number of opened e-mails.

The next obstacle is making sure that the subject line does not sound in any way 'spammy.'  Avoid typical spam words or phrases such as 'Limited Offer’, 'Free' or 'Act Today' and never be too 'loud' by using all upper case.

Call-to-Action Words

Including a call to action within the subject line can be quite challenging but it is essential to let the potential reader know what they can 'do' by opening the e-mail. Verbs are essential: 'Download,' 'Learn' or 'Select' are good examples and must be combined with the offer itself, e.g. "Download our Essential Guide to Unusual Marketing Ideas."

Prior to launching an e-mail campaign, every business should already have segmented its database of clients and know a little bit about each segment in order to ensure that the contents are something the recipient will want.

Properly Addressed

At this level, e-mail should be personally addressed to the client and could also include a reference to his business name, if appropriate.

It should also go without saying that what is referred to within the subject line tallies with the e-mail itself when the recipient opens it - anything different and a lead can be lost permanently. There is also no need to write a company history into the e-mail, keep it to a brief description and move on to the call to action, which must always be 'above the fold' (no scrolling).

Not every e-mail campaign can be successful and it could be quite a steep learning curve before you find yourself able to master the art of creating subject lines that are producing the results you want - testing and experimentation are the order of the day.

Abbas Hussain is a blogger who mostly writes for Integrity SEO Experts about email marketing and inbound marketing strategies.

  • Email is certainly a tricky medium to master, I have been having great success with open rates by split testing subject lines and getting a feel for what works better for a certain email list. The next thing I will be split testing is link positions, anchor text etc. to check CTR.

  • Thanks Shaun! If you are willing to share your findings by publishing a guest blog post here, please give me a shout.