Email Timing Isn’t Everything
If you read yesterday’s article about when to send your Emails to prospects and customers (The Science of Timing), then you’ll know the best times to send Emails, post Twitter updates, and feed your Facebook page.
However, Emails are useless if they’re not opened and read. The value of an Email increases exponentially when the reader takes one of several desired actions, whether it’s clicking on a “Re-Tweet” button or following a link to read more on your blog.
Thus, any Email you send must inevitably accomplish three things:
- First, the Email must be opened.
- Then, you want the person to read the Email.
- Finally, you want the Email to have a positive end result.
Getting an Email Opened
There are two primary reasons that your recipient will open your email:
- They already know and trust you, and believe that they will receive some kind of intrinsic value by opening and reading your Email…
- Or, your subject line is so compelling that they can’t help but open the Email to see what you have to say.
A recent article by Sean Platt on Copyblogger (The 4 Words That Will Get Your Email Opened) has a good explanation of why some subject lines work and others don’t.
Sean suggests that the subject line garnering the most “opens” is this: “You are not alone”.
Unfortunately, you can only use that subject line once. If you’re sending out more than one Email message in your lifetime, you’ll have to come up with more options.
While there’s no magic formula, there is a methodology you can use to “test” your subject lines before sending an Email:
- First, make a list of all the things about which your reader may already be thinking — the economy; feeling completely stressed; worried about keeping his job…
- Write several positive (problem solved) and several negative variations of subject lines that specifically address what’s already on the mind of your reader…
- Test the subject lines by saying them out loud and paying attention to how each feels to you.
The decision to open or not open an Email occurs well before you or your reader “thinks” about the words. It’s a subconscious decision that’s made based on an emotional reaction to the words – either it matches what we’re already thinking about, or it doesn’t. Either it strikes a particular emotional chord (envy, greed, lust, fear, curiosity…), or it doesn’t.
Getting an Email Read
There’s been substantial debate about whether or not Emails should be long or short; or, if your Email should provide the entire article or just a teaser that forces them to click through to the website.
The length of your Email depends a lot on the end result you’re seeking.
- Informational or How-To Emails. When writing an informational, how-to, or tips-related Email, my preference is to keep it to about 500-700 words in length and include the entire article in the Email. (I explain why a little later).
- “Offer” Emails. When making an offer, such as a deal on a new product or service, keep the Email short. Make it into an interesting “teaser” that leads them to click through to a longer sales page. You’ll rarely sell them in an Email, but you if you can get them to click through to a longer sales page (Landing Page), you’ll get a higher conversion rate.
- News Updates. Some Emails might be a summary of the latest news or a list of what’s been posted on your blog in the past week. Here, you’ll provide the teasers with a link to the main article.
With every Email, make sure that you immediately address the topic or issue mentioned in your subject line. The first paragraph must relate to the subject line, and if it doesn’t they’re likely to quickly hit the “delete” key.
Increasing Email Click Rates
Every Email has a call to action. The specific call to action will depend on the type of Email, just as the content length and style depends on the type of Email. Here are some suggestions:
- Informational or How-To Emails. Since you’re providing a helpful tip, idea, suggestion, or how-to piece, you want the reader to spread the word if they liked what they wrote. Include social link tags at the end of every Email and encourage them to “ReTweet”, “Like” and/or Bookmark your message.
- “Offer” Emails. The best way to increase click rates on your Offer Emails is to keep the Email short, sweet, and enticing. Lure them to your main Landing Page, where you’ll do the bulk of the selling. Don’t try to make the sale on in the Email, unless you have a very well established list who will buy anything you tell them to buy.
- News Updates. As with the offer Emails, you want to entice your reader to click through to read the entire article. (Be sure your blog uses the WPTouch WordPress Plugin
The reason that I prefer longer emails for informational or “tip” pieces is that the reader is far more likely to quickly scan or read the information on the spot (especially if you’ve timed the Email properly), and click on one of the Social Sharing buttons to spread the word.
Particularly with the increase in mobile device usage, your readers will want to read and delete or read and act directly from the Email instead of leaving the Email program to view a full article on the Mobile web browser. [Note: This is one VERY good reason that you want to ensure your blog is formatted for Mobile devices - see the WordPress Plugin WPTouch]
You should spend at least as much time composing your Email subject line as you do on the actual Email. If they don’t open the Email, then every ounce of energy that goes into the body of the email has been wasted.