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Some of the coolest tricks to get people to read your emails!

14 March, 2011

In fact are you even emailing your databases? You should be, your databases are your customers, they know you already, they are hot leads, they are engaged (or where at some point!), they have either bought from you in the past or have been recommended to you. Either way you NEED to be tapping this audience. Everyone knows that word of mouth is the best form of advertising and where better to start than with your existing customers!

So what do you email then?  Well that very much depends on your audience and what your service is. In this post I am going to assume e-commerce; however the exact same principles can and should be used for all services.

Ok so open rates, click through rates, forwards, what does it all mean? It all comes down to the question; are people reading your emails? And more so are people engaging with them? If you’re already emailing you database do you have any idea if people read them or if people click links or more importantly your return on investment (i.e. are people buying your products after receiving an email).

Tips on Increasing open rates, click rates, ROI and getting through spam filters! (nice little video on how spam filters work)

  • Subject line – one of the most important parts to the email, this is where you are either going to get people’s attention of completely lose it!
  1. Keep them short and punchy.
  2. Don’t do them all in capitals. (It marks them as spam!!)
  3. Keep it accurate ( ask yourself does the subject completely reflect what a user will find in the email)
  4. Include your brand name every now and again
  5. Novelty – don’t overdo this one, as it’s important that users get what they believe they are going to get, and if they ever get disappointed with a subject line then you could lose them for ever, but when you can think of something novel go for it!
  • From address – this is one where you need to test your audience, use email software that allows split testing where you can send your campaign to a proportion of the database and depending on which “from address” wins, depends on what the rest of the emails “from address” will be. I would suggest using a name @ you brand, so for example lucy @ or even Lucy At Tesco’s (my personal favourite).
  • The first line of the content (pre headers) of your campaign is definitely the next thing you need to think about, most smartphones these days give you a snippet of the email and here is yet another chance to make sure they open the email, the last thing you want it to say is the standard “Can’t read this email…..” go for something like “Brand – Month – Newsletter” or even better relate it to the subject line. Again this is something you need to test and play with until you find the winning formula for your audience.
  • Images Vs. Text – make sure that your text to image ratio is high, spam filters do not like letting through emails that are purely images, make sure you have lots of text in your emails.
  • Images – bear in mind that most clients especially, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and outlook all block images until the user accepts the image. There are a number of ways round this and the more you do the better.
  1. Ask people to add your email address to their address book
  2. Use background colours, no clients block background colours; there is nothing worse than opening an email to find a blank white screen… I am confident that the user simply then clicks delete, whereas if they can see background colours, and they can read text they are far more likely to “allow” images.
  3. Add clever image tags to your images, something like “You wanna see me? Tell your client to allow images for this email!”
  4. Text on background colours is even better and gives the user a chance to engage with the email, hopefully leading to them allowing images to be shown.
  • Safe Sender – I have just touched on this, but this really is important to help deliverability, avoid spam filters and getting your images through. Ask people to add you to your address book. Yahoo and many others will automatically show images and place your emails in the inbox, if it can see your address in the address book!
  • What email address do you send from? DON’T use your website domain, you could harm either your email deliverability or more so your importance of your own domain! If your emails get classed as spam your website gets classed as spam too! Use either a custom email address of a custom domain, for example or
  • Promote replies – another way to increase deliverability and getting images shown is to get people to reply to you, the more replies Hotmail, yahoo, Gmail etc. see the more they are likely to drop your email on mass into inboxes instead of spam folders.
  • Unsubscribe – it’s a reality some people are not interested in reading emails, you must make it easy for people to unsubscribe and you must make sure you never ever email then again, the last thing you want it to be marked as spam from a user as Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail all “learn” the more you get marked as spam the more you are spam!
  • Can’t read – double check you have the email hosted somewhere online so that people that can’t see the email clearly can easily click a link to view it.
  • Social Networking – make sure you make it easy for people to forward your email or to share it with friends or even to bookmark it.
  • Testing / Rendering – Make certain you not only proof read your email several times, but test send it to lots of different people viewing it in different clients, view it on a smartphone, view it on webmail, Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook
  • Plain Text- not all users will be able to see your HTML email, make sure you are sending a plain text version out too.
  • Footer – make sure you include your company registration, address and phone number at the bottom of the email, did you know it’s now industry standard to also show your company registration number at the bottom of the email!
  • Keep up to date – you should subscribe to the top 3 email platforms in the UK, dotMailer, pure360 and emarsys as they are constantly blogging about new ideas and new ways of increasing deliverability and open rates. I should add at this point that I use one of the above myself, and as a reseller can offer much better rates than going direct.
  • Use a UK company – don’t use software in American when sending emails to the UK, spam filters don’t like this, use companies that are based in your location or have affiliations with the countries you are emailing. Far too much spam comes from the US, don’t put yourself in that category.
  • Call to action – make sure there is something for the user to do, whether it is getting in touch, buying a product, entering a competition or whatever but give them something to do.
  • Landing Page – so you want CLICKS well make sure that when people do click they find themselves at relevant and similar themed pages. If it’s a Christmas email make sure that when they click through you keep up the festive theme, the more relevant your links and landing pages are the more likely they will click again next time!
  • Pay for your emails! – don’t go cheap on emailing, free emailing or cheap software will only get your emails into spam filters, use reputable companies, use companies that are proactive and that are big enough to be in negotiation with people like Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail. The email platform I use and offer is so proactive at getting its clients emails into inboxes and out of spam boxes that its part of the DMA and IAB (one of its directors is on the board of the DMA’s email marketing council!)
  • Banner / Header – make sure it’s not too big, think image vs. text ratio, make sure it’s relevant, does it need to be at the top? Try it lower down see what happens… you have to learn from your emails.
  • Reporting – this nicely brings me on to reporting, it’s so important to know what’s happened once you have sent your emails. Why have people opened them? How many people have opened them? Have people forwarded them? Have people clicked links? Which links have they clicked? Have they made a purchase? What’s your return on investment?

I hope you have picked up some useful tips from this, the most important thing is making sure that you have something of interest in the email and you have a relevant subject line and more so a reason for them to open it and click through!

So, did you get to the bottom of my post? I have a feeling that one of the biggest reasons you read this and found yourself here right now is because you where intrigued at the title of the post “Some of the coolest tricks to get people to read your emails!”

There you have it, now YOU know how powerful that subject line is 😉

What are your thoughts on e-shots and e-newsletters? What techniques do you find work or definitely do not work? I’m interested to hear your thoughts so let me know by commenting below!

For further advice on E-Mail Marketing, E-shots and E-Newsletters please contact now!

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