Nikola Gemeš is a content writer with extensive writing experience in SaaS and Tech niches. He prefers working closely with website owners and marketing teams to help with their brand management projects. The teaching experience from his previous life helps him reach the audience on a person-to-person level.
Generic subjects, vague content, and poor formatting are just some of the reasons why emails don’t get through. Here’s how it’s done right.
“If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”
The question that Anton Chigurh pops to Woody Harrelson’s character before shutting his lights out in the Coen brothers’ post-western epic has come to represent futile efforts that we make in our best intentions.
The same applies to emails that end up at the bottom of the inbox folder, only to be moved to the trash at the end of the month.
Of what use is the email if no one bothers to read it?
Check out this situation:
The average office worker receives 121 emails in a single day.
On the other end, you may be waiting to get your question answered or get feedback on your report so you can wrap it up. But instead, your email is taking chances with the others.
So what can you do to make your emails automatically get a high priority tag?
Let’s take a look at 6 solid strategies that will get your emails opened and read.
Punch a compelling subject line
First impressions can make or break the deal, so you need a powerful subject line for your email. The subject line is like a good pair of shoes – usually, the first thing people see. It’s this short piece of content that needs to grasp their attention and make them click for more. By this way, you can encourage your audience to learn more about your products and services. This is necessary when you run your business on multiple channels such as selling on WooCommerce and Amazon at the same time.
If your subject line is dry or spammy, there is a good chance that people will stay away from your email.
Here are some examples you DON’T want to use:
- “Quick question” – This is a red flag that a productivity vampire is at your door. If you need to ask, at least give a hint about what it is that you’re asking. Something like “Question about stolen Death Star plans”.
- “Friday” – Subject lines are not only vague but also a nightmare to search.
- “Are you busy?” – There’s hardly a better way to put someone on the defensive, especially if it’s coming from their superior. The “Just looping in” and “Any updates on this” are close runner-ups.
- “Please call me” – Here’s a surefire way to turn someone’s day worse from their first morning coffee. This subject line is the “We need to talk” version for the business world. Can it be so bad that you can’t even mention it in the email?
- “THIS EBOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR BUSINESS FOREVER!!!” – First, stop yelling. Second, you know nothing about my business. While caps can be used with effect, you never want to make someone believe you’re screaming at them.
Leave those subject lines for angry Facebook comments and birthday emails from your grandma.
- “Our Team Did a Study and Now We Want You to Read the Findings So We Can Get Feedback and Get a Sale Pitch in Your Inbox Right Away” – This is a subject line that belongs in Terms and Conditions. It’s too long, takes forever to make a point. Not only will most platforms cut it off, but in all its length, it still gives little detail about what it is inside.
On the other hand, if your subject line is intriguing and informative enough, they are likely to open the email, at least to see what it is about.
After that, it’s up to your opening sentence to carry the ball.
Here’s what you can do to write better subject lines:
- Don’t write lines that are too vague or generic.
- Make them more personal.
- Don’t make it sound like bad news.
- Avoid spam triggers and caps.
Professionals receive tons of emails every day, so don’t make things harder with complicated subject lines. At the end of the day, short and straightforward lines are what actually works. If you’re sending a sales email about your business proposal, you need to avoid fluff at all costs and get to the point immediately.
Write an engaging first sentence
As I mentioned earlier, when the recipient clicks on a captivating subject line, it’s up to the body to do the rest.
Your opening line needs to be catchy and interesting enough to make the reader want to continue reading. At the same time, it must summarize what the rest of the email is about.
Don’t try to introduce new topics. Just expand what you already conveyed in the subject line.
Here’s what always works:
- Start with a question – Asking a question is a good way to start a conversation and get the reader interested in what you want to say.
- Share an observation or statistic that is relevant to the reader to catch their attention.
- Use a personal story that touches the topic.
Your opening sentence should be unique and stand out from the others they receive every day. Stay off clichéd openers like “I hope this finds you in good health” or “Hope all’s well in your neck of the woods”.
Depending on the purpose of your email, go with something fun and creative like “I hope you weren’t waiting for someone else’s message” or “The weekend is just behind the corner, chief”.
Ideal subject line length
Is there any science behind the ideal number of characters you should use in your email subject line?
Research shows that brief subject lines have low performance in both click-through rate and overall engagement.
The majority of emails are shipped with sub-100 character subject lines, although subject lines with 110-140 characters have higher click-through and open rates.
Research from Marketo says that the ideal number of words is 7.
Words that make your subject more clickable
Depending on the source, the average email open rates range between 18% (Campaign Monitor) to 22.15% (GetResponse). Let's go with the more optimistic one.
A report from Kinsta finds that only a few words can push your emails above the 22.15% open rate:
Newsletter – 24.09% – This word doesn’t imply that someone signed up to immediately download something.
FW – 33.18% – Seemingly insignificant but powerful and a bit dishonest – acting as if it isn’t automated email.
PDF – 24.54 – Might be caused by email-locked reports or white paper downloads.
You – 15.52% – Clearly an underperformer. Avoid using this word in subject lines.
Get your spelling and grammar in line
Emails are most likely used in professional settings and one of the ways to improve your open rate is to write emails that are well-written and typo-free. Grammar errors and inconsistent spelling can make you look unprofessional and untrustworthy.
I mean, how can you do business with someone who is sloppy about their email?
We all make mistakes, and if you don’t trust your self-editing skills, best get someone else to proofread your mail before sending it.
As a content writer I can tell you that after you're done writing a piece, the last thing you want is to go through it again. A fresh set of eyes can spot mistakes you may have missed.
You can also enlist the help of editing tools like Grammarly or Hemingway App to check your spelling, word choice, and style. Check the corrected version once again just to make sure.
Use personal pronouns and positive language
Keeping the recipients going through your email is not easy. Even with the best intentions, you risk being bland and monotonous.
Use personal pronouns (you, yours, we, us) to make a point. This puts your audience first and points out what they get from the interaction.
Unless you’re sharing your personal experiences, keep the use of “I” to a minimum.
Staying positive is not only about cracking jokes and being polite. If you need to criticize, make sure to give praise first. If you need to disagree, use a recommendation. If you need to break bad news, do it with reassurance.
Here are some examples of negative language and their positive counterparts:
|Negative language||Positive language|
|waiting room||reception area|
|old policy||established policy|
|postponement||change of schedule|
|opportunity is limited||competition is high|
|stop writing badly||start writing well|
|don’t use the small box||use the big box|
Positive words set a more pleasant tone of communication. They take an edge out of emergency or negative implications that may put the readers on alert.
Make the point asap
People don’t have time and patience to read long emails that continue paragraph after paragraph. Although Russian classics are not at the peak of popularity these days, I don’t want you meandering like the Quiet Don.
If you don’t get to the point quickly, your email is likely to be ignored or filed under “the least of my problems”.
So stop beating around the bush and say what you want.
Stick to simple sentences, ideally 1 idea = 1 sentence. Keep an eye on useless adjectives, and adverbs. Don’t use two words where one would do.
If you have a lot of information to share, break it down into small bite-sized chunks so the reader finds them easier to digest.
Smart writers know how to keep the readers’ attention and keep them reading. Start each section with a topic sentence that carries the main idea of the paragraph. This helps with the main point.
Use headings and lists whenever you can to organize your thoughts. A study by Nielsen discovered that 79% of online readers scan instead of reading.
Headings and bullet lists make it easier for them to go through your email in an F-pattern. The same goes for adding bold text and links.
Provide value to recipients
Dispense with filler words and phrases like “just”, “actually”, and “very”. They appear weak and cheap and add little value to your message.
You should also keep away from acronyms and industry jargon unless you know the readers are familiar with them. This makes your emails more accessible and more likely to be shared with people who don’t have specialized knowledge about the topic.
There’s no need to be mysterious. If there’s key information about an event or topic that someone needs to know before making the next move, make sure to include it in your email.
When the readers go through your email, they need to have a complete picture of what the issue is or what you want them to do.
Send them right on time
There isn't an ideal time to send emails. Your best chances depend on the purpose of your message and what action you want from your recipients.
While you shouldn’t send any emails between 7 PM and 7 AM, there are some interesting metrics to look at.
Research by Omnisend says that emails delivered early in the morning give the best results.
Let’s analyze some of their insights:
- The open rate peaks at around 8 AM. messages sent at 8 AM have a 20.32% open rate and a 7.79% click rate.
- Click-through rates are at the highest around 5 PM.
- Sales-oriented messages have the best chances around 4 PM – 10.66 orders per campaign.
- Campaigns sent at 10 AM have an open rate of 19.83% but lead to fewer orders – a sign that people who open emails in the morning aren’t planning to spend any money.
What’s the emailday?
Statistics show that the best day to send promotional emails is Thursday, with Tuesday second in the row.
Sunday provides higher click-through rates, but when it comes to email opens, you want Wednesday.
More campaigns are sent on Friday than any other day, but Thursday is the winner for overall performance.
Monday and Saturday, on the other hand, are the two worst days to send promotional emails. If you have a weekly newsletter going, make sure to switch it to one of days that offer better results.
If your emails go unread, you risk getting a severe blow to your productivity. Praying and wishful thinking won’t get your emails read.
There are several reasons people ignore your emails. Some of these are beyond your control
However, there are strategies that can help you raise the open and click-through rates, and ultimately, respond to your emails.
Stop spinning your wheels on follow-ups and phone calls.
Apply these tips today, and by the end of the day, you may even have more time to read all the emails in your inbox.
Subscribe to weekly updates
You’ll also receive some of our best posts today