23 Ways to Get Finicky Readers to Open Your Emails

The following is a guest post courtesy of Ryan Gould, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services, Elevation Marketing


A person’s inbox is oftentimes like a bucket left out in the rain—it gets nothing but filled all day long. Getting your emails read amid the noise can be difficult. It basically comes down to having an attractive subject line that supports your unique content in the body of the email. 47% of subscribers decide whether to open an email or not based on this one little line—so it must be well thought out and relevant.  

Here are a few ideas you can use to get your emails read in a way that will excite and engage readers, lead to opens, clicks, and most importantly, conversions.


1. Release Big News Immediately

If you have pressing news that is relevant to your audience, don’t sit on it. Release it that very day or, if possible, that very minute. The quicker you can get breaking industry news out to your audience before the Other Guys, the better it will be for establishing authority and brand loyalty.

News can come in many different forms. Consider sending out press releases in your email campaign and having the title be the subject line. Putting newsworthy content in the subject line is sure to catch the attention of your recipients.  


2. Highlight the Benefits

Give your readers a good reason to click on your emails by being upfront and straightforward about what you are offering. Usually customers aren’t going to pay much attention to the actual offer itself, they really only want to focus on the benefit. But do provide a benefit worth exploring if you want to entice the click.


3. Send Out Helpful Industry Info

If you have industry news your readers might find helpful, or current events within your organization your audience might find interesting, deliver that information in an informative and helpful way. You’ll set yourself apart by doing so, and your readers will see you as the go-to for all things happening within your niche. Establishing yourself as a thought leader among your industry should always be a goal in the back of your mind, and email marketing is just another way to have that platform. It not only benefits your readers, but it makes you look great in the process.

For example, Experian sent out this email with the subject line: This is when you know you need a new card.  

This was a quick and short way to give the readers very beneficial information. If they want to read more, they can click the see the factors button that links to the full article on their site. Experian sent their readers helpful information that also positioned them as a thought leader in the process.


4. Encourage them to RSVP

A good way to get your audience to become enamored with your emails is to occasionally give them the golden ticket to a members-only invite. This could be a webinar or seminar, a ball or concert – anything your audience would find interesting. So much value can come from a personalized invitation to make your subscribers feel special.


5. Communicate Valuable Information

If your audience needs information, such as a password to members-only content – deliver that information clearly-labeled and immediately. Never keep your audience waiting when they need something to buy from you, become a member of your organization, or otherwise engage. Keeping your audience informed at all times is how good business communication is done.


6. Downloads and Gifts

Every so often, give your audience something to digest like an infographic, an ebook or whitepaper, video or anything else of interest. Don’t do this so often that your offerings decrease in value. Offer downloads and gifts sparsely and ensure they are high-quality and precision-targeted for best effect.


7. Discounts and Coupons

Everyone loves to save money, including email recipients, in fact, discounts and offers are one of the primary reasons people subscribe to newsletters and emails. While savings and coupons can come across as spammy, if you otherwise offer up high-quality information, your audience will appreciate a way to save a little cash as they become a paying customer.


8. SOS

Asking for help from your audience can get your emails opened. If you are holding a fundraiser, or you need help keeping your newest product from getting scrapped, send out a help message. This can be highly effective, as for every 1000 fundraiser emails that are sent out, organizations make $44 in return. So, ask for assistance and you never know when your audience may come through.


9. Be Cautious of Frequency

One of the most tedious but crucial aspects of email marketing in general is finding your frequency balance. Since every audience is different, test out your campaigns once or twice per week to start.  Never send emails every hour, nor should you send them every day. In fact, one of the main reasons people don’t open emails is because they are sent too often. The key is to send them as infrequently as necessary to remain on your prospect’s mind without becoming an annoyance. See what your audience’s open rate is after some time of testing and stick to it to keep your list expanding.


10. Go for Mid Week

Mondays and Fridays are the wrong days to send emails. On Monday, your prospects are recovering from the weekend and on Fridays they’re planning for it. Studies actually show that Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days for sending emails. Wednesday is a close third. That’s when people are in the middle of their weekly comfort zone. Aim to send your emails between Tuesday and Thursday.


11. Identify Pain Points

Hit your prospects right where it hurts by identifying pain points to experience a higher open rate. Find out what their biggest problems are and then remind them out much it hurts. “Can’t get sales?” you might ask, or “Bounce rate too high?” These pain point subject lines really cause your prospects to sit up and take notice, which can be great for email marketing success

The idea is to spark emotions in your reader. Experiment with various types of pain point delivery systems, such as:

  • Fear of Loss: Uh, Oh, Your Reduced Rate Contract Is Expiring! (Here the pain point is the higher fees the customer will have to pay if the contract does indeed run out.)
  • Curiosity: Identify These Strange Money Wasting Habits (Here the customer is losing money and wants to know how to stop. This subject line is sure to move the prospect’s needle.)
  • Humor: We Will Erase Your Debt Only On February 29, 2018! (A debt-ridden prospect would definitely pay attention to – and smile – at this cheeky offer.)
  • Vanity: Are You Really Wearing Last Year’s Styles? (No one wants to look like a dweeb, which is precisely what this subject line implies.)
  • Greed: Get a Head Start on the “Other Guys” This Year (A prospect lamenting the fact that there is too much competition would certain warm to besting their opponents with this subject line.)
  • Sloth: Create a Native Ad In Under a Minute (Prospects pressed for time would appreciate an ad creation tutorial that can be done on the fly.)

Only you know what your audience will best respond to, but a little testing here and there definitely goes a long way.


12. Don’t Be Salesy

Leave your inner salesperson at home and instead, become a friend to your prospects. Help more than sell and you’ll get far better results. Think of your emails as building blocks for your relationship with your customer. For example, if your email is specifically supposed to be a transactional email with confirmation of their order, then keep it that way. Don’t try and sell them another product in the process. This might turn them off to wanting to order something else and prevent them from opening your future emails.


13. Keep Subject Lines Short

With mobile being a main source of communication, it’s important to note the way your subject lines look to readers on all devices. The suggested rate is around 61-70 characters.  Keep your subject lines short and front-loaded. A subject line that offers the bulk of the information at the end may get cut off on a tiny screen. The fewer words you can use to get your point across, the better.


14. Use Humor—But Use It Carefully

If you can crack a joke that breaks the ice with your prospect, you just might earn yourself an click. But be very careful with humor, as you never want to offend anyone. Better yet, unless you know your humor will go over well with everyone, it’s best to stick to the script wherever possible. If you at all question whether your readers will understand the joke, the best idea is to just not move forward with it.


15. Know Who You Are Writing To

Keep the reader at the front of your mind when constructing the email, not the buyer. What types of things would persuade them to open your email? What are they interested in?  That’s how you should write to your prospects, whether you’re formulating the subject line, the body, or the call-to-action. Focus on the reader, not the product.


16. Stick to Simple but Powerful Language

Your recipients are going to be hesitant to open an email that they have a hard time understanding what is being said. They will also be disinterested if the language is boring. Using unique words that peak interest and motivation are a great way to get readers to open your emails. However, it’s important to be selective on what exactly those words are to avoid confusion.

A great example came from Spirit Airlines who sent their readers an email with the subject line of: Dance- Worthy Savings   

This email uses colorful and unique language, while also allowing the reader to easily understand the content and the offer.  

17. Always have a Positive Spin

Every one of your emails should be positive. Even if you’re discussing a negative event or subject, find a way to dress it up and put a positive spin on it. People get enough doom and gloom in their inboxes on the daily. Be the break in the clouds and the rays of sunshine on the otherwise cloudy day and your prospects will be more likely to look your way when they’re feeling down.


18. Have Just Enough Content

Don’t ramble on so that your prospects get bored. Whether it’s the subject or the body, keep it short and simple. Just enough information is plenty to keep readers on the hook. Too much information will bore them, too little information doesn’t tell them where the value is.


19. Evoke the Emotions

Make people feel the anguish and frustration they face when confronted by their primary issue. Invoke the immense release and sigh of relief that will come when you offer up a simple solution. These emotions will help your readers identify with your emails, and most of all your brand’s values. Emails that spark an emotion are more likely to get opened.


20. Mix it Up

Don’t be afraid to take chances every now and again. While you should stick to the script and offer consistency in tone and language, don’t be afraid to mix it up every now and again. Throw out something humorous or sad or thought-provoking to see how your audience reacts. You may reap valuable information that can be used in future product and service offerings.


21. Admit to Mistakes

If you send out an email riddled with errors, send out another copping to your faux pas. There is nothing worse than people who won’t admit that they messed up. And if you don’t say anything, your audience may come to distrust you. Because, to them, maybe you didn’t notice the mistake and that’s how you treat your business. Every email is a way for your audience to build more of a perception of you. Admit when you’re wrong and that perception can only improve (as long as the errors are few and far between).


22. Always Test

Test subject lines, language, tone, images or no images, and calls-to-action to see what your audience will put up with, or what they’ll most click on. There are never enough tests that can be run. It’s all about persistence and continually adapting to change.


23. Have Fun With It

If you find email marketing boring as watching grass grow, your audience will sense it. But if you’re enthusiastic and you truly have a passion for what you’re doing, that gusto will transfer to your prospects. They’ll find themselves more drawn to your content, and that’s always good for improving your email marketing opens, clicks, and conversions.


By: Ryan Gould

Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services

Elevation Marketing

An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan leads Elevation Marketing’s digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands, engaging audiences and managing multidiscipline marketing teams, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem solving.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rygould/

Twitter: @ryanscottgould