How to Stand Out in the Information Overload Society: Email Marketing Part 2

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Get People to Actually Read Your Email!

Given the state of today’s collective inbox, I’ve made quite a bold promise in that line above. But to deliver on my promise from last time, here it is.

The truth is that it’s actually not all that difficult to improve your email open and response rates by following a few best practices.
Here are six steps to getting your email read:

1.    Remember the goal of your email
We’re going to begin with the end in mind, because all too often do I see emails (especially from people in sales capacities) that are WAY too long, going for the kill, the deal, the whole story, the close… And I’m scared off, ready to get trigger-happy on my “block sender” button.

The goal of your email should be singular in nature (i.e. get a reply, arrange a phone call, get a click thru to your website, etc.,) so don’t try to do too much in your email communication.

2.    Remember the goal of the subject line
Following that theme, when writing your subject line, remember that it too has one, singular job – to get your email opened!

If we use what we’ve learned by the growth of content marketing and the decline of advertising, we know that people are looking for something useful. If your email isn’t useful, your recipients are going to turn it off, at best. By useful, I mean informational, educational, helpful, interesting or entertaining.

3.    Use personalization
Your name has quite a ring to it, doesn’t it? If you hear someone shout your name, it triggers a hound-like reflex, as your ears perk up. Use this to your advantage by prompting this same response in your email recipients by using their name in email.

Even if using an email marketing platform to send mass messages or auto-responses, use names. Regardless of the fact that everyone knows that the personalization is automated, it still works. Human beings notice their name… leverage this.

4.    Kill corporate speak copywriting
This is a big fail that all too many companies make in their email marketing efforts. The truth is that business is based on relationships – person to person, not business to consumer or business to business.

Begin having conversations with your email recipients. A conversational tone will go a long way in gaining trust and attention, when coupled with a valuable message.

5.    Plain text
Use plain text. No one is wowed or impressed that you can send a graphic HTML email… or maybe they are, but that won’t get them to pay attention, graphics and logos are just a blatant reminder that they’re receiving a corporate communication. While there is certainly a time and a place for this, for instance an eNewsletter, when using email where you’re looking for a direct response, stick with plain text messages that feel like a one-to-one communication.

6.    Call to action
Lastly, if you’re looking for a response, you have to ask for it. If it’s a click to register for a webinar, view your latest blog post, online deal or otherwise, include the link throughout your email and instruct your readers on what to do.

Tell them to click and what they’ll get out of it. If you want them to reply, tell them what you’ll do for them if they do reply. Ultimately, remember to make the message and experience more about them than you and watch your response rate improve.


  1. Thanks Tony,

    This article was very helpful. I look forward to more articles on subject line buzzword’s so clients open my emails when marketing ideas for them.


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