Gmail’s recent launch of a “tabbed inbox” that funnels businesses' email campaigns into a “Promotions” tab has business leaders and marketing executives understandably concerned. Already, some marketers have seen their email open rates slip due to the change. The fear is that more email providers, including Hotmail and Yahoo Mail, will start providing filtering features to their users, which will make it even harder for businesses to use emails to engage customers.
Ultimately, the move toward email filtering means that companies will have to work harder to make their emails stand out and to get their customers to read them. Their emails will have to be so important that customers will actively look for them. So, how do you achieve that?
Here are seven tips for making your emails harder to ignore:
1. Provide exclusive email-only offers. If you want make sure your customers see emails as valuable, make sure they truly are valuable. Offer email subscribers deals they can’t get through your engagement marketing, including social media or print advertising. If you don’t currently offer deals via email, now may be the time to start doing it.
2. Personalize through segmentation. The more generic or generalized your emails are, the less personalized they will feel to the customers who receive them. That’s not good in the new world of email filtering. Consider how you might make your email blasts more targeted and, thus, engaging by giving customers the types of information they want. A company can segment its email lists in different ways, such as by customer zip code, demographic, or preferences and interests. How you segment really depends on your business and the diversity and needs of your customer base. But studies, like this one by MailChimp, show that segmentation can improve email open rates by nearly 15 percent.
3. Make subject lines clear, catchy and actionable. The subject line is what differentiates your email from the hundreds or thousands of other promotional emails in your customers’ inboxes. Why should they open yours? The subject line needs to tell them why. What will they get by opening your email? Adding a sense of urgency (“Don’t miss” or “Your last chance”) can help. Read more tips from HubSpot.com.
4. Make the preheader and first sentence count. The preheader is the short summary text that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox. Like the subject line, this is essential to drawing customers into the email. If you don’t customize it, it may be the first sentence of the email—which may not be compelling enough to convince people to open it. (Consider these two preheaders: “On Wednesday, our shop will offer customers ...” versus “Get 50 percent off purchases on Wednesday.” The second obviously tells the value of opening the email.) In general, the preheader and first sentence both need to quickly and succinctly tell readers why they need to pay attention. Avoid wishy-washy language or unimportant sentences that may stop people from reading further.
5. Spell out the benefits. You have roughly 2 seconds to capture your readers’ attention. They want to know what’s in it for them. You need to tell them quickly. Write in the second person (“you”) and spell out the benefits for them. Tell them directly what you’re offering them, whether it’s a discount, a new service or another other important change. They want to know what it means for them personally, not what it could mean for someone else.
6. Make action easy. Once you’ve succinctly told them what you’re giving, make sure there’s an easy way for them to take action on the opportunity. Link them to the direct spot on your website where they can take action or tell them when and where they need to go. Don’t make them hunt for the answer—because they most likely won’t.
7. Don’t overuse your email. If you want your emails to be viewed as special, you need to make them feel special. That means not bombarding your customers with daily emails—and for many businesses, not even weekly emails. Try to refrain from emailing your customers unless you have something truly valuable and important to say.
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