Over the past several years of teaching online marketing skills to local business owners and entrepreneurs, one primary question has been asked over and over again: “How can I get more people to open my emails?” And while my immediate response, “If I had a concrete answer for you, I’d be a gazillionaire!” always gets some chuckles, I tell folks that there is a “Magic Sauce,” but it differs for every audience.
The three main ingredients of this Magic Sauce are as follows.
Know your audience. Have you segmented your list? Are you sending a marketing message about your newest widget to your suppliers? Do they care? Are they going to possibly be interested in buying your widget? Why would you even include them in this message? Think about the audience and if they aren’t your target market for this particular email campaign, don’t include them. Segmenting your list is a fairly easy task to undertake by using tags in your email system. Make it easy for yourself and your readers by sending targeted campaigns to the proper inboxes.
What is your subject line? Most folks are not too motivated to open an email with the subject line, “October Member Newsletter” or “October News You Can Use.” When I’ve got 30+ emails in my inbox every day, I’m compelled to open or delete it based on the subject line and the sender. Two of the most compelling subject lines that landed in my inbox (and they must have been great, because I got these several months ago!) were from the local grocery store, “What doesn’t KALE you makes you stronger,” followed a couple of weeks later by, “You never SAUSAGE a sight.” This was perfect in so many ways. First, it was funny. The play on words humored me. Second, I knew right away there was a sale on kale and sausage. If I were in the market for either of those products, I would be opening the email to get the details, and heading over to the store to make a purchase right away. Think about the subject lines you get in YOUR inbox, and use that for inspiration: what you might do, and what not to do. A word of caution: if you decide to use some type of humor, make sure it’s relevant to your message and inoffensive.
When to send? As little as two years ago, industry standards indicated that the best time to send a marketing email campaign was Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 10 am and 2 pm. Guess what? Now every marketer knows that, and suddenly (no surprise here), inboxes are flooded during those peak times. When using Constant Contact to send email campaigns, the system will actually suggest an ideal day and time to send your campaign, based on your particular industry data. If the campaign is not too time-sensitive, I suggest giving it a try! If it suggests 5:31 am on a Monday, give it a go! See what happens. One small business sent their very first email campaign on a Monday afternoon at 3:44. Her results were amazing! Her open rate was 40%, and her click through rate was 17%. The next morning, she made a significant sale to a recipient of that email (enough to pay for an entire year of Constant Contact service). All this to say, use the data in YOUR system. Nobody knows the behavior of your list as well as you do.
So there you have the three main ingredients of the Magic Sauce to getting your emails opened. The work doesn’t stop there, though. Next time: What Do I Write About?
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