You’ve Got Mail: Tips for Creating Emails That Get Opened, Read and Clicked

Maddie Slezak

In many cases, a good integrated marketing strategy will include an email campaign. Done properly, emails are an effective way to continually communicate with your customers and prospective customers on an ongoing basis. The challenge is making the content highly relevant to the target audience and retaining subscribers. Here are a few tips to help you go from just another item in an inbox to the email everyone looks forward to opening.

 

1. Get Creative with Your Subject Line

You have milliseconds to get someone’s attention with an email so the key is to create a subject line that will stop someone in their tracks (or should I say “scrolls”). Subject lines are an important part of the equation because if a reader isn’t interested enough to open your email, they won’t get to see any of the stellar content that’s inside.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help boost your open rates:

  • Keep it short – The fewer the words you use, the better – no longer than 7 is a good rule of thumb.
  • Give ‘em a taste – Allude to what’s happening in the rest of the email, but leave the reader wanting more. The subject line should be either a sneak-peek or a synopsis of what’s to come.
  • Avoid sensational click-bait – It may seem like an easy tactic to get opens, but at the end of the day, it will cause you to lose the trust of your subscribers. There are ways to be compelling without using sensational and over-the-top headlines.
  • Use power words – “You,” “Free,” “New,” are great examples of power words. They grab the reader’s attention and provide an instant connection to the content.
  • Experiment – A/B testing with subject lines is a great way to see what works best for your audience. Split your list 50/50 and keep track of open rates to see which headline your recipients are responding to. From there on out, optimize what you know they like.

2. Content is King

So, you’ve hooked them with the subject line. Now you want to make sure the rest of your copy is up to par. Like most aspects of email marketing, keep it simple. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Be useful – Provide something for your readers that they need to know.
  • Be brief – The most effective copy – copy that readers are most likely to read – is short and to the point. Try thinking about it in terms of scrolls – the fewer times the reader has to scroll, the better shape you’re in.
  • Highlight important information – Realistically, even if you’ve gotten someone to open your email, they aren’t necessarily on board yet. Chances are they’ll be scanning the content and looking for the key points. Make sure you call out important points with design elements or special text treatments (more on this later).
  • Add personality – The best way to make your audience develop an authentic emotional connection with your company, is to be consistent with your brand. Leverage your company’s unique personality and make sure that your content is always in-line with your brand.
  • Use actionable language – If you want your reader to do something, tell them explicitly and remind them why it’s in their best interest to do so. The copy itself should be actionable and employ short, obvious calls-to-action (i.e. “learn more,” “buy now,” or “download”).

3. Make it Visually Appealing

Good design is a key to keeping readers engaged by being user-friendly, easy to digest and aesthetically pleasing. David Rico, Web Developer at Warschawski, provided a few design and UX tips to make sure users scroll all the way through your next email:

  • Keep it simple and user-friendly – Let the copy do the heavy-lifting and keep the design predictable. A nice, large header image paired with effective copy and a large, recognizable CTA at the bottom is a good template to start with.
  • Make sure the design compliments and helps the eye move through the information – Give the copy some breathing room and let it do its magic! Use your design to compliment the copy and help the reader digest the email more easily. This is a good place to incorporate your brand and the colors and motifs associated with it (i.e. color-blocking, icons, or specific imagery) to help break up longer emails and emphasize certain bits of information.
  • Highlight CTAs – Make sure that when the user glances at your email they can quickly identify where the CTA is located. You should keep your CTAs large and in predictable places (i.e. immediately after the copy or imagery).
  • Optimize for mobile – There are tons of studies out there but depending which you read, between 50-75% of people open emails on their phone. Designing for mobile first is a great technique that forces you to prioritize the most important parts for your email first. If you make sure your email is easily digestible on tablets and phones in the beginning of the design process, then you’re already ahead of the game.

4. Give Them Space

One of the most important best practices of email marketing is: don’t spam your list. If you feel the need to send multiple emails per week or per month, segment your list into sections and send each segment only emails you know will apply to them (based on observed clicking or purchasing habits).

Customers don’t want to be constantly bombarded by promotional emails. Give your subscribers a break and so they don’t feel like you’re harassing them. It helps to define a monthly or weekly schedule, and stick to it, always keeping an eye on your reporting tools to track opens, clicks and unsubscribes. If you’re getting a significant amount of negative feedback, it’s time to adjust your strategy.

5. Stay True to Your Brand

Above all else, stay true to your brand. Whether it’s imagery or content, there’s nothing more important than being consistent and on-brand when you’re interacting with your customers in order to reinforce that emotional connection.

If you want help optimizing your email marketing plan and keeping your customers subscribed for the long haul, give us a call to talk strategy.