Open Me! How to Lure People Into Opening Your Marketing Email

Open Me! How to Lure People Into Opening Your Marketing Email

Email marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing around. With a good mailing list in your hands, you have direct access to a potentially engaged customer base, which you can incentivize and motivate in numerous ways.
There’s just one hitch: your potential customers have to actually open those emails in order for them to have any effect. Doing that in an age when inboxes the world over are groaning with the weight of unread marketing emails can be a herculean task, even though your reader actively signed up for your list. Looking at your dismal open rates can make you want to personally call your customers and shout, “Hey, you said you liked us. Why won’t you open us?!”

Turns out, there are many reasons why potential customers don’t open up marketing emails. Whether they’re trying to exert a little more self-control or they’re simply sick of looking at marketing emails, it takes an exceedingly well-targeted and strategic approach to overcome these hurdles and get your emails the attention they deserve. Let’s take a look at the best strategies for getting it right.

Quick Tips for Upping Your Email Marketing Open Rates

1. Know & Experiment With Your Audience

By this, we’re not asking you to spout off a few demographic stats for your ideal readership. We’re saying that in order to be an effective email marketer, you really have to know your audience. Take the time to create multiple in-depth personas for your core customers. Research these customers until you know what their most pressing problems are, what’s missing in their lives, and what they find compelling. Know their voice and the kind of voice that most appeals to them.

Back all of this up with data. Don’t settle for an email platform that provides only one measly statistic. Instead, opt for one that not only can deliver you open rates, but that will also tell you what each customer clicked on and how far they read. Use A/B testing features to try out different headlines and email types on different customers. Change your approach as the results come in, just like a good scientist would alter their experiment. Do this until you know with accuracy and confidence who your customer is and how best to approach them in terms of content, incentive, and tone. Of course, this won’t in any way ensure that all of your emails will be opened, but the relevancy of your emails will greatly increase not only your open rates but your engagement rates, too.

2. Master Your Headlines

If there’s one thing that matters in luring potential customers into opening your emails, it’s titles. When done right, they’re what will jump out of the pile, catch your reader’s eye, and get that mouse clicking. They’re an art to be sure — and one that can often feel like a dark art at that. Here are a few good guidelines to follow:

  • Use power words. Sensory and emotional words are great drivers of action. Readers will be much more compelled to open your email when it’s titled, “How I Narrowly Avoided Staggering Defeat” as opposed to, “Mistakes I Made When Starting My Small Business.” This list of power words is a great place start. A related strategy is to pick unique words that pique interest, so get out that thesaurus! Just make sure your words are somewhat easy to break down, and that your message is still understandable in the wider context of the headline.
  • Be super positive. Or totally negative. Strong emotions in either the positive or negative directions capture your reader’s attention and clicks. Advertisers have known this for years, and it remains true today.
  • Leave out some info. You know those annoying clickbaity headlines: “You’ll never believe what happened after the explosion,” or, “She lost 20 pounds just be doing this!” They may be obnoxious, but there’s a reason they exist: they work. That said, you don’t have to go totally over to the dark side. Phrase your headlines in a way that balances intrigue and mystery. Readers should have a good sense of what you’re writing about but still feel motivated to learn more.
  • Use numbers. Yes, the “Top 5 X That do Y” titles have gotten old, but numbers are still key to snagging opens. That’s because they give the reader something concrete to hang onto it. They also help you organize your thoughts in the body of the email so that readers can scan (which is how most people read online). The new trick: rather than picking a multiple of 5, choose a unique number, like 11 or 41.
  • Make it timely. Timely headlines and emails have a higher likelihood of being relevant. Post-Thanksgiving shopping, for example, will already be on your consumer’s mind around, well, Thanksgiving — so a relevant headline around that topic is much more likely to get opened. The same goes for any breaking news you want to craft your headline around.
  • Go controversial. No one’s saying you have to go Deflategate levels of scandal here. But it can definitely help when the headline of your email takes a firm stance on something, especially when it’s not the position your customers are used to hearing. If you can back it up with a well-written email, you’ll firmly establish yourself as a thought leader — and you’ll up your engagement rates along the way.
  • Avoid spam triggers. Savvy email readers know which headline words scream, “sleazy sales pitch.” Most email clients flag certain words too, as they’re commonly used by spammers. Try to avoid triggers like the word free, over dramatic statements and over promises, exclamation points, anything with the word “percent off,” or subject headlines that are far too long. Take a browse through this excellent Hubspot guide for more.
  • Personalize your subject lines. There’s no doubt about it: personalized subject lines greatly increase opens. The one hitch is that you’ll need good data for this, but you’re going to want that anyway. Even better: if your reader has taken certain actions, like watching a video from start to finish that you sent out previously, segment them into a different group and send them more targeted content and headlines they’ll be likely to open and enjoy. If you have data about your readers’ location, use that to offer local discounts and tips. And of course, personalization also means talking directly and personably to your reader throughout the actual email. Email list segmentation is an important topic in general, so we highly recommend you do a little reading up on it for more. You won’t regret the time you spend researching this.

3. Don’t Bait and Switch

Hoorah! You’ve mastered the art of email headlines. Now make sure you don’t abuse it. Readers hate it when they click on your tempting headline only to find that the body of your email has nothing to do with the subject line. In fact, they hate it so much, they’re likely to unsubscribe from your email and mark it as spam. So, don’t do it! Ensure your headlines actually describe what you’ll talk about in the body of the email.

4. Optimize the Sender Name and Preview Text

In most email clients, it’s not just the headline your readers will see before they open the email; it’s the sender name and the message preview, too. Take a look at this email subject line as an example:

As you A/B test and track your open rates, try playing with every aspect of what’s here, not just the headline. Change the From name from your company’s full name to its nickname. Or, personalize it even further by making the email appear to come from someone specific in the company (though still make sure that it’s clear either in the From name or in subject line that it’s coming from your organization). The preview is further area to experiment with offering an interesting expansion on the subject line while still not giving too much away. Play with that, too.

5. Be Useful

Last but not least, make sure you’re not just sending emails to send emails. Again, the goal here is relevance, not spam. Emails that contain powerful incentives and well-targeted information will increase the likelihood that your readers will smile when they see your email in their inbox, rather than sending it right to spam.

In Short

Email marketing is a fantastic tool for any business to rely on, but it’s one that must be mastered. With these tips and tricks, you’re sure to increase your open rates, generate more engagement, and build that loyal customer base you deserve. Good luck!

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