How to Get Customers to Read Your E-Mails

Jun 6, 2012

Just as our mailboxes get stuffed with junk mail, our inboxes are inundated with spam messages.

In an effort to keep their inboxes manageable, recipients are quick to delete anything they’re not 100-percent certain they need, including your latest e-newsletter or pitch, according to a recent MoneyWatch article by Tom Searcy.

“[Customers] have their finger poised on the delete key to quickly rid themselves of unappealing marketing messages,” he wrote. “E-mail is opened, scanned, and tossed at rates exceedingly faster than direct mail. The digital age has sped up everything, including the trashing of junk mail.”

Searcy offered these 10 tips for keeping your e-mails out of the trash.

1. Welcome to short attention span theater. “[R]ealize it’s imperative that every message contains a clear, compelling call to immediate action and provides a transparent response mechanism,” Searcy wrote.

2. Get personal. “Personalization is the key to higher e-mail response rates,” he wrote. “Craft messages based on information known about individual recipients and segments of recipients.”

3. Get to the point. “The call to action should be the backbone of your subject line, and should include words that describe the offer or reason for action,” Searcy wrote.

4. Get real. “While marketers often worry about ‘fatigue’ in their lists, that is not only a matter of frequency of communications but also a function of being misled by a marketing message the first time the recipient encounters it,” he wrote. “Hiding or cloaking the true message’s true intention feeds fatigue and undermines confidence.”

5. Call and write, too. Integrating a telemarketing and direct mail program with e-mail will boost response rates from 5-15 percent, as measured in click-throughs,” Searcy wrote. “While one message might suffice, an ongoing dialogue using integrated media will lift response with clients and prospects.”

6. State your name. “The sender should be a person, not a company,” he wrote. “People also are more likely to open email from a person, rather than from a company or some generic server address.”

7. Give them an out. “The quickest way to earn the wrath of busy prospects and customers is to send an unexpected e-mail with no way for them to opt out,” Searcy wrote.

8. Don’t take them home. “In most cases, an email campaign with only a home page link generates higher website ‘hits,’ but that traffic can get lost after the home page,” he wrote. “When using links, it is better to have a landing page tailored specifically for the offer in the e-mail message.”

9. Try short and sweet. “Plain text-based e-mails can be very effective if they are targeted, make a compelling call to action, and are brief enough to be read quickly,” Searcy wrote. “HTML e-mails, if utilized, need to include the same clarity and brevity.”

10. Know how low saturation points can go. “Appropriate use estimates vary widely, but generally fall within a range of twice a week to twice a month,” he wrote.

To read the complete MoneyWatch article, click here.