You’ve probably done it yourself, possibly even this morning: You open your in-box, scroll through the dozens of emails waiting for you, mentally assign each of them a priority, and save a stack for later. For email marketers, that isn’t great news; time and time again, response rates show that when it comes to reading emails, “later” is too late. Much of the time, people who delay opening email marketing messages instead of reading them immediately don’t open them at all. When they do, they don’t devote as much time to emails they’ve already relegated to a lower level of priority.
It’s imperative, then, to make sure your email goes into that short, high-priority stack that gets opened and read as soon as your recipient checks that in-box. These tips will help make it happen.
Grab Interest with the Subheader
Subject lines are critical to getting an immediate open instead of a delayed one that may or may not happen, but almost as important is the subheader, that small piece of real estate before the body of your email. Many email marketers use this space as a place to put a link to a text version of the message or for the unsubscribe link, but that’s a mistake. Many mobile devices show an email’s subject and the first line of the message within it. If your subheader contains only necessary housekeeping, it isn’t compelling. Instead, use that line to expand meaningfully on the subject line. This is a vital element of your email to test with your marketing automation software before sending the message out to a wider audience.
People don’t read online. They skim. That’s even more true for short-form communications such as email that recipients often open from tablets and smartphones with smaller screens that aren’t conducive to a long reading session. To see an illustration of just how much we don’t read, this Slate article detailing why you won’t finish it offers graphs and heat maps of how people engage with article content. The same restrictions on interest hold true for email, so it’s essential to make your content skimmable. That means giving people:
– Bullet points
– Brief sentences and paragraphs
– Purposeful content with a single point to make
– Plenty of white space on the page
– Straightforward call to action
Add Highlights (But not Too Many)
Bolded, italicized, or brightly colored text stands out, and standing out is good – except for when it isn’t. Adding emphasis through typeface, size, or color is a good way to draw attention to a link or highlight a salient point, but it loses its impact if the text is filled with emphatic statements. Think about how you’d feel about someone who shouted every word; you would quickly tune out the noise, and that’s what happens to email that relies too heavily on emphasizing points of interest.
Reach the Right Audience at the Right Time
Any business that has more than a single customer has reason to think about audience segmentation. People open messages when they find them relevant, and relevance comes from knowing your audience. A marketing automation system has drip nurture programs that send out email based on behavioral data. If someone has visited a particular product page on your website recently, your next email to that lead might tie into that product – a how-to video demonstration of its use, news about an upcoming upgrade to it, or accessories for it, for example.
Getting read right away puts you in the high-priority category for your audience. Earn that immediate open with a relevant subject line, an informative subheader, and content that reliably rewards openers by being easy to read at a glance.
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