I receive a lot of emails (who doesn't?)
Even discounting all my work-related emails, I still receive a lot of marketing emails from various lists I have signed up to over the years.
But while most of these are either deleted or ignored, there are a few I will always open – often as soon as I see them in my inbox.
Because they 'get' it. The senders 'get' email marketing. The people behind the emails know that they provide enough value that I am always going to at least open the emails and scan through them, just in case I am missing out on something good.
And that's it – the 'secret' behind getting more of your emails opened: make your subscribers look forward to receiving them.
Let me ask you a question: How many promotional emails do you actually read? How many arrive in your inbox and make you think: "Yes! I cannot WAIT to read that."
Very few, I'm sure.
But some do … and these are where you need to start your research. What is it that these emails do that others do not?
The Word 'Newsletter' Is Misleading
Here's one thing I know for sure: none of my favourite emails are newsletters. In fact, the whole idea of sending an email newsletter is usually misguided.
When you start sending a newsletter, you’ll probably want to pack it full of company news, important issues, new hirings, industry events, etc.
And while this can sometimes be interesting to subscribers, it is often not going to make them stop what they are doing to read it.
For many businesses, newsletters are not actually what they want to be sending, but they end up sending them anyway because of the name 'email newsletter'. What they should be doing instead is sending marketing emails.
And these are very different.
NOTE: If you are sending an email newsletter and getting great results from it, then by all means continue. I'm not saying they are always bad, not at all. For many businesses, however, they are simply the wrong way to go about email marketing.
What You Should Be Doing
For most businesses, what you should be doing is sending out individual emails that have one specific goal.
Rather than cramming each monthly newsletter full of multiple stories, interviews and links, start writing shorter emails that provide one piece of information, provide one tip, link to one blog post, etc.
I actually do receive and enjoy one newsletter – but that is only because of a small tips section at the end that consistently provided useful information. I ignore the rest of the newsletter.
The thing about newsletters is that while some of your subscribers may be so interested in your company that they want to read all your news, many of them will not be. But if you can provide them with genuinely useful and valuable information instead, a lot more people will be happy to receive your emails.
So What Is Genuinely Useful/Valuable Information?
This is what you've got to figure out when you start sending emails. And a good starting point is to revisit those emails that you always find yourself opening – what do they do that the others do not?
They probably don't fill you in on the latest office news, for a start.
Perhaps they provide you with:
Not every email is going to be relevant to everyone on your list. But if you can get into the habit of providing interesting, useful information on a regular basis, your subscribers will start opening your emails more.
Of course, you can make your emails more relevant by segmenting your list. If you have a large list consisting of people who signed up in different places, segment them into groups and send them content that will be more relevant.
How Else Can You Get More Opens?
Making your emails valuable to your subscribers is the number one way to boost open rates. But there are other tactics you can use to get more opens.
Send Emails From YOU
The emails you most open are the ones that come from people you know. Often you only have to see someone's name to know that you are going to open and read that email.
The best emails are personal. So write it from you – or at least from a real person at your company. Can you add a picture of your smiling face? Even better!
I write from 'Jon at CopyDart', and all my emails come directly from me. So if subscribers (hopefully!) find value in my emails, they'll see my name and instantly know that something good awaits.
NOTE: Subject lines also have a big impact on opens, but I'm going to cover these in more detail in a future post.
Use Pre-Header Text
I don't use pre-headers in my own emails because I send out text emails (I find that simple text works best). But if you do use a header image, perhaps of your logo or an image, make sure you use pre-header copy.
This is the first line of text that appears on the line in the email inbox, making it valuable email real estate.
Many subscribers will make up their minds about opening an email based on those first few words they see – so make them count.
Focus on the Main Thing: Value
Pre-header text and writing from you personally are both good strategies. But don't forget that people are only going to open your emails regularly if there's a good chance they'll find something of value inside.
And the great thing is that once you are sending out valuable emails on a regular basis, other things stop to have so much impact – subscribers who get value from your emails will open each email no matter what your subject line is.
And if you are not sending out useful information to your subscribers, or you don't know what would be valuable info for them, then it's time to work it out.
Ask your existing customers. Send out an email survey. Read your competitors’ blogs and find out which topics are the most popular. Read forums to find out which topics your targets are most concerned with.
Then you can pack your emails with value … and send your open rate through the roof.