Maintaining a connection with customers is essential to any business, no matter whether it’s a brick and mortar operation or an online enterprise. Companies frequently send newsletters and mailings with promotional offers, updates, and news. These efforts to acquire new business, or to retain existing customers, will be unfruitful if the emails sent are never opened. In fact, one of the most important measurements of email marketing is the open rate of mailings sent. Clearly, getting customers to open your emails is essential if you want to get your marketing messages across.
To ensure that your mails will end up in your customer’s Inbox and not be marked as Spam, you need to confirm his/her willingness to receive them. When customers register at your website, or make purchases with you, you can ask them to opt-in to receive your mails. You can give customers instructions how to add your company to their ‘safe senders’ list. Without the customer agreeing to receive your mails, any unsolicited mass mailings you send will have very low open rates.
The next factor that may affect email open rates is customer recognition of who is sending the mail. In most cases, promotional mail is sent by the company in a very impersonal manner. Sometimes these mails are sent from a “no reply” email address giving customers no chance to respond if they have questions or comments. On the other hand, some companies make an effort to have a specific staff member, or persona, serve as the ‘from’ address on mailings. If a customer is familiar with the person/company sending the mail, it is more likely to be opened.
The main factor getting customers to open your company’s emails is the subject line. Writing the perfect subject line is an almost impossible mission. A good subject line teases a customer to open the mail, but you have to be careful not to misrepresent the mail’s content or to trigger spam filters. Certain words should be avoided, such as ‘free’ and ‘bonus’. Improving the subject lines of your mails is an ongoing learning process, and one that can be measured with A/B testing to see which subject lines have the best open rates.
Successful subject lines can be categorized by the message they convey to readers. Here are some example categories and subject lines:
Reason why emails: “5 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade to Our New Software”
How-to emails: “How to Win the US Powerball Lottery”
Benefit emails: “Write a Best-Selling Novel in 30 Days”
Question emails: “Do you think visiting New York City is too expensive? Think again!”
Personalized Emails: “Justin, we’ve created this promotion just for you”
List emails: “5 Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep”
Urgency emails: “Last chance to save 50% on this offer!”
There are many more types of mails, and subject lines can be a hybrid between different types. The important thing is to give your reader the feeling that he/she has a personal interest in the mail’s contents. Once you’ve aroused the customer’s curiosity, or made the customer see that the mail offers a quick and easy way to do something which will provide a benefit in some way, the open rate of that mail will go up significantly.