I’ve said before that your email list is probably the most important digital marketing strategy you can use to help grow your business. However, it is only an effective business building strategy if you can get people to open and read your emails. You can have 50,000 subscribers to your email list and send out regular updates but if 98% of those emails go straight to the trash how effective is your huge list? I’m going to go out on a limb and say not very.
There’s no doubt email is still the best way to communicate and engage with your audience, but building your email list the right way takes some time. Chances are you will work pretty hard to get your first 100 subscribers, consistently providing valuable content that helps solve a problem. If you can get more people to open and read those emails you will convert more readers to buyers, and you will grow your business much faster.
How to Get People to Open (and Actually Read) Your Emails
The subject line
64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line. The subject line is the most important factor in getting people to open and read your emails. Think about how many emails you delete every day without ever opening them based solely on the subject line. Your goal then is to provide a compelling subject line that encourages people to read, and not trash, your email.
Keep it short
Statistics show that shorter subject lines get opened more often than longer ones. Why? One big factor is that many email programs truncate your subject line in order to display it properly. This is especially true of mobile devices. It varies depending on the device, but most mobile devices only show the first 30-40 characters of a subject line. Keep your subject line to around 40 characters or less and you should be fine.
When people see numbers in your email subject like “5 Tips to Help Your Business Succeed”, they are intrigued and feel compelled to open the email to learn the 5 tips. You can also use some weird odd number like “How I Made $53,423 Last Month”. A very specific number sounds legit and piques interest.
Make a promise
A good email subject line makes a promise. You then have to deliver o that promise in the email itself. “5 Tips to Help Your Business Succeed” is a promise that in this email you will find 5 tips to help your business succeed. If the body of the email doesn’t provide those 5 tips, you are being deceptive, and not providing the content as promised.
Ask a question
One of the most effective ways to get people to open your emails is to simply ask a question. Consider the content of your email and determine what question it answers. For example, if I send an email that contains 5 tips to help your business succeed, the question might be “How Can You Succeed in Business?”
Your goal is to build a personal relationship with each of your audience members. A great way to make them feel like you are talking directly to them is to personalize your emails.
Use their name in the subject
This is another great way to get your email opened. Try something like “Quick Question Karen…”, or “5 Great Tips just for you Karen”
Use their name in the body
Always personalize the body of your email. Start with something like “Hi Karen! I hope you are doing well”, and then close your email with a little personal note like “Thanks for reading Karen!”
Don’t overdo it
It’s awesome to personalize your emails a little, but don’t go overboard or you risk sounding creepy. “Hi Karen, how’s everything going with you Karen?” “Karen, I have a question for you Karen.” “What do you think of this Karen, do you like this Karen?” “Thanks Karen, I really appreciate you Karen.” Creepy, right? One or two Karens is enough.
According to MailChimp more email is opened on weekdays than on the weekends, and more during the day than at night. The peak days are Tuesday through Thursday, and the peak time is between 2-5pm.
This is not to say your email won’t get opened if you send it on a Monday morning, but it doesn’t hurt to go with the statistics on this one.
Easy to read on any device
In 2013 51% of all email was read on a smartphone. If my math is correct, that’s more than half. Your emails should be easy to read on mobile devices as well as desktops. I subscribe to a lot of email lists and there are a few that are simply unreadable on my iPhone. There’s also one that looks great on my iPhone but terrible on my laptop. Most email service providers like MailChimp or AWeber have pre-formatted templates you can use that make your emails look great on any device. Be sure to test your emails on a variety of devices before you send them out to make sure everything looks good and they are readable.
The purpose of an email list is to build personal relationships by continually providing value to your audience. Your emails must continually provide this value to your audience or you risk losing them.
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Be a problem solver
At its core, your business is about solving a problem. Whether you are a Pilates instructor or a plumber, your clients have a problem and you provide the solution. You can use your emails to help solve their problems by providing some quick tips, best practices, advice, or valuable resources. As a Pilates instructor, you could send out a quick Pilates routine people can do each morning before work to help ease back pain. As a plumber, you could provide instructions on how to replace a faucet. This is really valuable information and will help keep your name at the top of their list next time they need a plumber or want to sign up for private Pilates lessons.
The key to creating truly great content is to be yourself. When writing your email copy, use your natural voice. It should sound like you are just talking to one person. The fact is, you are. One person will be reading your email, so write it as if you are only writing to one person. It may help to think of one person in your life (or on your list) that would benefit from your email, and just write to that person. This will help your emails sound less robotic and more authentic; people can always see through fakeness.
Break the rules
Don’t feel like you have to follow all of these rules all of the time. It’s OK to break some of the rules here. Send an email on a Sunday morning. Use a long subject line. If the majority of your audience opens and reads their emails on Sunday mornings, do that. The idea is to try something, see how it works, and then course correct as needed.
However, the one rule you should never, ever break is making sure you are always providing something of value to your audience.
Take a moment right now and look at your inbox. What stands out? Do you see any compelling subject lines? What days and times were the emails sent? Are they providing value or just trying to sell you something? How do they look on your smartphone? Can you easily read them? Share your findings in the comments below!