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Marketing 101 - Effective Emails


Marketing 101:  Guide to Effective Emails

By Elizabeth Slater

When we send an email from our business we often times assume that many more people read the email than the number that actually does.  For example if we have an email list of 1000 people and the open rate is around 20% that means that approximately 200 people out of the 1000 see your offer.  Even less then click through to your site and even less actually buy from you because of that email.

When you send an email to your customers, you are among the scores of emails that these people may get that day. In my seminars I ask my audience, “How many of you don’t get enough emails every day?” No one ever puts up his/her hand.  You customers are in the same position, too many emails and not enough time.

How do you increase the number of people who actually read your emails? 

Most people don’t spend a lot of time deciding whether to open an email, in fact the decision to open or not open an email takes about 2 seconds. So what they can see in the inbox display is very important.

Your customers are busy with their own lives and work. So send your emails at off times. Emails that come during the middle of the workday are not as likely to be opened and read if they come earlier or later in the day. The decision is usually based on a few things they can see immediately.  

  • The date and time the email was sent, if it’s sent in the middle of the night it’s probably a large group email.
  • Who sent it? Is it a business or person that the reader knows?
  • What is the subject line?  Does it sound interesting, important or valuable?
  • Is the salutation personalized?
  • If you can see the teaser or first line of the email, does it engage you? 

All these things play a part of whether or not your customers are going to open your emails. So you need to make these first impressions count. Though the readers who are deciding in those 2 seconds are actually taking a lot more into consideration than you might think. Here are some of the things that may come into play when your customers are deciding whether or not to open your email.

One of the questions they may ask themselves is whether they have the time right now to read your email. Your email is much more likely to get opened if it’s sent early or later in the day.  It used to be that making sales calls on a Friday afternoon was thought to be a waste of time, as no one would be interested late in the day or at the end of the week. I have found just the opposite, calling later on a Friday afternoon would, many times, find my customers cleaning up their desks, doing some busy work or getting ready for Monday morning with time to talk.

The same could be true for emails. Test this theory with some of your customers, send an email on a Friday afternoon and assess the response to the email and the follow through to purchasing.

Another important point is to make sure that your customers are able to easily identify you as the sender of the email.  Especially when you are sending the message to your best customers, who already have a connection with you. People are more likely to open the email if they know who sent the email.

Your subject line is of primary importance. It’ what makes your readers want to read further. Does the subject line sound interesting, engaging and valuable to them?  It should.  It should also not be too focused on sales, unless the offer or the product is something that the customer has already shown an interest in.  

I sometimes receive emails in which the company sending the email uses their company name as the subject line.  Keep in mind that the name of the sender is already part of the information given, so when it is also used as the subject line the sender is wasting valuable real estate and missing the opportunity to tell the customers something of importance to them.

There are lots to think about sending emails to customers. Though you have something to sell and you want to get the message across, it has to be done in a way that will make the readers feel as if you had them in mind personally and that you are offering them something that is important to them.