September 24, 2014

Email newsletters: Maximise your open rates

Fact: Unread emails don’t help you make sales.

When jostling for attention among the huge amount of other emails in your subscriber’s inbox, your email newsletter needs to stand out from the crowd if it’s to stand a chance of being read. So how do you ensure your email succeeds against the stiff competition of customer / boss / employee / spouse emails?

Two things. ‘From’ and ‘Subject’.

1. Make it clear who it is from.
Most email distribution providers allow you to decide what you want in the ‘from’ field of your emails. <First Name> <Last Name>, <Company> is a safe bet. Your name shows that it was written by a person and the company name helps to jog the memory as to why someone they’ve never met is sending them a message.

Avoid: <> and <First Name>. People mistrust emails that either aren’t from actual people or that look like the sender is being less than clear about their identity. And with good reason, this is the format that spammers and utility companies use.

2. Write a good subject line.
The right subject header makes the difference between your email being ignored or opened. Getting the right sentence here is the single most important thing you can do to increase your open rates. Sounds easy. It’s not.

Let’s start with what not to do:

Subject: Acme Company Newsletter.

Doh! Your subscribers are busy people. You need to entice them to open the email. Writing a generic email header like this is like dropping a copy of The Times on someone’s desk while they are in the middle of a crisis and expecting them to sit down and read it.

A good email header is one that piques the interest of the recipient enough to stop them in their tracks. They think “I wonder what that’s all about, I’ll just have a quick look.” Then, assuming that your content is good – you’ve got them to read your email.

Headline basics: Writing a good subject line

You need to present the newsletter in terms that relates to the reader. For example, if your newsletter is announcing a new product that is more accurate that what’s gone before, rather than write: Acme launches a new widget. You could write. Find out how to achieve tighter tolerances.

If your newsletter is about industry best practice, then your title could be :Are you making these mistakes in your workshop?

Despite the fact that we’ve all seen headlines like these countless times, they work.

It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the content of the email should deliver on the promise of the headline.

To sum up. Email’s great at keeping a constant contact with your market, but make sure that you are encouraging your subscribers to open and read your communications by spelling out what they gain by reading it – and if you can make it intriguing at the same time, so much the better.