How to make sure your emails get opened

Posted under Email

Email marketing is one of the best forms of PR communication we have at our disposal and yet it continues to be clouded in negativity by so many.

Why? Because far too many companies do it so poorly, some are even willing to break online marketing ethics just to get their message out to the end user. The results are irrelevant and intrusive email news items cluttering up Inboxes and agitating recipients.

Patience is running thin – email systems get bogged down with spam and unwanted messages to such a degree that your email marketing really has to be sound if it’s to capture and keep the attention of your targeted recipient.

Here are some of the key rules to follow if you want to ensure you stand out from the crowd:

  • Subject line tone – it’s crucial to get this right. Recipients make a split decision on whether to open or bin an email based on the subject line. It needs to be enticing and provide encouragement to open.
  • Don’t make it too long – ideally the subject line should be between 35-50 words – any fewer and it won’t make sense; any longer and it will get cut off in the subject line box.
  • Be aware of spam filters on your recipients’ email servers – they can identify certain words in the subject line as potential spam, also some phrases and character combinations. These words can change over time so you need to check bounce reports to be aware of triggers.
  • Don’t forget to split test – it’s always best to create two subject lines and send them to a small sample of recipients to test which one gets the best open rate. Once you know, use the winning subject line to send to the rest. It’s a case of trial and error to find the best subject line but definitely worthwhile if you want to ensure you give yourself the very best opportunity to get in front of your audience.
  • Don’t overload the content – although this doesn’t initially affect the open rate (often the content is not visible until the email is opened) if your emails are always too long, this may stop people opening them in the future. Remember, email marketing is a hook to encourage people to contact you or visit your website to take further action. If there’s a lot to say, give succinct summaries of information with links to more detailed pages on your website.
  • Make it personal – the more tailored your messages the better your open rate will be. If you know previous buying behavior or interests, then use this to create more personal messages. We all prefer content that is relevant to us.
  • Keep it regular – how regular depends on your business and target audience. If you are an e-commerce business selling product online you have lots of opportunities to send personalised emails based on buying behaviour and interests. For other sectors subscribers don’t want bombarding with emails but it is important to be consistent.

Email marketing is a targeted and measurable method to reach straight to an audience that is already ‘warm’ about you or your company because they’ve already taken the positive step of signing up. You now need to nurture this relationship and treat it with respect by keeping in touch with updates that are useful and relevant to them.

And if you’re still a sceptic when it comes to email marketing and not convinced it should be part of your PR plan, read our recent business surgery piece in the Peterborough Telegraph which points out some of the benefits to businesses for adopting it.

Dawn Strange

Dawn has been with MM since the year dot – well, technically, six months after it was born! That was back in March 1995. She was the first recruit and can honestly say she’s loved the journey to where we are today – and where we’re heading!

Along with Karen, she runs MM, keeping it on track at the same time as exploring new business opportunities and pitching in on business development.

Her passion is content, in its multiple guises. Having jumped out of journalism into the agency world she’s got a real thing about matching right content with the right audience, whether it’s 10 words of ad copy or a 2,000-word thought leadership piece.