9 Simple Ways To Get People To Open Your Email

How can a small business stand out and ensure their emails get read by customers? These 9 tips will help boost your open rates.
Getting Small Businesses Unstuck, Shafran Moltz Group
September 26, 2013

With 89 billion business emails sent each day, it's tough to guarantee that any one email gets read—even one that has great content like yours. What’s a small-business owner to do? These tricks, techniques and strategies will help boost your open rates.

Spend Time With Your Subject Line

The subject or title of your email is what determines whether people open your email. Remember, you don’t have to give everything away in that first line. In 2012, when President Obama used email marketing for fundraising, the most successful title used was simply “Hey.”

When designing a title that will get clicked on, don’t leave it to chance. Increase your open rates by testing out these techniques.

1. Be provocative. Would the title make you open an email? Last year, one of my most popular email titles was, “My wife thinks I am having an affair.” When the email was opened, the article talked about how I wasn’t home a lot because I was working on my small business.

2. Go negative. Unfortunately, titles with negative words have higher open rates. Use phrases like the worst, absolutely wrong and no fewer. As an example, one of my emails that had a very high open rate this year had the subject line, “5 Reasons Why Stupid People Make More Money than You.”

3. Be exclusive. Words and terms like VIP, exclusive, invitation, limited time, and the deadline is Thursday draw people in and make them act. Everyone wants to be part of the club! Use a title like “Exclusive Invitation to …”

4. No capital letters. In the world of email, using all capital letters is like SCREAMING AT THE PERSON, which is never considered proper business etiquette. Also, emails with too many words in all caps are likely to get flagged by spam filters.

5. Be controversial about current event topics. Take a contrarian viewpoint, as long as it’s something that makes sense for your brand and you’re genuine about your take on the position. For example, when the blogosphere was commenting on why Marissa Mayer was wrong for not letting employees work from home, I wrote an article titled “Marissa Mayer was Right: Why Employees Need to Be Back at the Office” that had a very high open rate.

6. Four words to avoid. Never use the words free, help, percent off and reminder. These are overused email titles and will negatively affect open rates.

7. Use numbers. People are lazy when it comes to learning new things. (I’m not talking about you, of course.) But really, who has time to read nine paragraphs of information, when that same information can be distilled down to nine neat bullet points? If your title promises your reader will learn a lot in a little time, people will check it out. (Tip: Odd numbers in titles, with the exception of 10, can boost open rates.)

8. Keep it short. Twenty-seven percent of email is opened on mobile devices. Many mobile email tools cut off titles at 25 characters. Use a tool like Litmus, which checks how a subject line and email will actually appear in prospects' inboxes based on the tool they're using.

9. Get some help. If you have difficulty creating titles, there are tools that can help. Tweak Your Biz provides a title generator to improve open rates. For this article, it suggested:

  • Apply These 9 Secret Techniques To Improve How To Get Your Email Read
  • The Next 9 Things You Should Do To Get Your Email Read
  • 9 Steps on How to Get Your Email Read

Don’t Forget The “From” Field

The email should always come from a person at the company. If possible, it should be from the most recognizable person that registers with the audience you’re sending it to. Never have an email from just “the company,” “info” or “sales.” It’s too impersonal, and almost all but guarantees a low open rate.

Remember, clever titles need to be backed up by good content, or the open rate will drop over time. Industry standard open rates are 20 to 30 percent for small businesses. If you're not currently achieving these types of results, keep testing these strategies to get more of your emails read.

Read more articles on online marketing.

Photo: Thinkstock