Getting your emails opened

Email marketing has become a popular way for businesses to engage in regular communication with their prospects and customers, because it is simple to use and highly cost-effective. However, as the popularity of email marketing has grown, so has the amount of spam we receive in our email inboxes on a daily basis.

In order to combat the increase of spam and keep it out of inboxes, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email programs have developed numerous filters. Unfortunately for businesses, many legitimate emails get caught up by the spam filters and are never seen by the consumer.

This means that getting business emails through electronic gatekeepers and getting the recipients to open them is fast becoming an art form.

There are three gatekeepers who automatically check out emails before they are received and delete those which they believe to be potential spam (unsolicited emails):

  • Your recipient’s ISP
  • Your recipient’s email program
  • Your recipient themselves (who will take a quick glance to decide whether to read or delete your message)

This guide will teach you the key points you need to know to get your emails through these gatekeepers and achieve a high open rate.

ISPs and email programs

To reduce the chance of having your emails marked as spam and deleted by the ISP or email program, follow these recommendations:

  • In your subject line, avoid:
    • Punctuation!
    • Symbols #
    • RE:
    • Common words like ‘free’, ‘guarantee’, ‘advertisement’, ‘sex’ etc
  • In your content, avoid:
    • Excessive punctuations, for example !!! or ???
    • Multiple symbols like $$$
    • 'Click here' multiple times
    • Selling words to strangers like ‘Dear Friend’, ‘order today’, ‘money back guarantee’ etc
  • In your from line, avoid sender addresses such as:
    • mail@your

The consumer

Consider these statistics:

  • 63.3% of consumers say the 'from' line most often determines whether to open or delete an email
  • 38% of consumers cited the subject line as the determining factor of 'opens'

Consumers are tough when it comes to opening emails – if they don’t recognise the sender’s name or if the subject line sounds like spam, they won’t hesitate to hit delete or report you as a spammer. To avoid this, follow these recommendations:

  • In the from line, put in a person's email address, not:
    • None at all
  • Subject line tips:
    • Keep it short and simple
    • Incorporate a benefit (not just features)
    • Be honest (dishonesty will alienate your audience and it is illegal to use misleading material including false headlines)
    • Use the power of the Internet and test out several subject lines, then look at your reports to establish which works the best

Also, use personalisation by mentioning the person's name in the first couple of lines of text. This will triple the incidence of opened emails. Don't just stop at their name - look at how else you can personalise your messages, such as location or last purchase details.

You have just 3 seconds to engage with your readers and let them know you aren’t sending spam. Make sure you take full advantage of the sender line, subject line and the greeting, because these can make or break your campaign.