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How to Create Emails People Actually Want to Read

Are your emails actually getting read, or are they just falling into a void along with the hundreds of other emails your readers receive every single day?

While you can't force every single reader to read every single email, there are a few very simple tactics you can follow to give your emails the best possible chance at getting read.


Create a Catchy Subject Line

This is easier said than done, and there's a reason why we're starting off with the subject line before anything else. Subject lines are the very first thing people see, and will make-or-break your open rates.

Generally speaking, there are a few things every subject line should have* :

  • Urgency - People hate feeling like they're going to miss out. Communicating deadlines right in the subject line is a way to strategically create suspension.
  • Curiosity - Piquing curiosity is a great tactic for inspiring readers to open your email. You just want to be sure that you aren't too vague to avoid confusion or coming off as spammy.
  • Offers - If you have something to offer (especially if it's free), put it in the subject line! This helps your reader know what they're going to get in exchange for their time spent reading your email.
  • Relevance and Timeliness  - Referencing topics that are trending or top-of-mind is an excellent way to tap into your readers' FOMO.

*Of course, rules are meant to be broken. So if you're not seeing results following all these steps, you can experiment. Try mixing and matching the tips above, or skipping some altogether. 

There are also a few common elements that make subject lines more compelling. Try these tips to create subject lines people want to open:

  • Surround key words with symbols: * * ( ) or [ ] 
    • Example: 5 words you should *NEVER* use in marketing
  • Using the word free (especially when capitalized)
    • Example: Today only: FREE mug with purchase of $25 or more
  • Use numbers
    • Example: 10 Tips for Hiring Virtually
  • Use emojis - especially when surround a word or phrase
    • Example: New highlighters to make your skin ✨ sparkle ✨

Not sure if your subject line is compelling? You can use the free subject line checker at SubjectLine.com to check your subject line's score. This isn't a guarantee that it will get clicks, but it helps to know if you're on the right track.


Change Up Sending Name

Your sending name (and email) should be clearly from your company to avoid confusion. However, that doesn't mean that you have to send everything from the same email. If your company has multiple teams, it makes even more sense to switch up the sending name. This could be as simple as "Sales at XYZ Company" instead of just "XYZ Company." 

There's a lot of debate in the marketing world around using company names vs. personal names (e.g., "XYZ Company" vs "Brian at XYZ Company"), so there's no one clear answer. However, if you notice your emails aren't getting read you can always try the opposite tactic. If you're sending emails as your CEO, try sending them as your company and vice-versa.


Use Segmentation and Personalization

Are you sending all your emails to everyone in your list? If the answer is yes, then you just discovered why people aren't reading your emails. For best results, you should use segmentation to organize your lists. This is the process of grouping contacts by some similarity - common segmentations include lifecycle stage (e.g., are they a client, a prospect, or a vendor), geographical location, service type, and/or industry. You can then send your emails only to the segments most interested in them. This increases the likelihood that your emails will actually get opened. It also prevents readers from unsubscribing and missing out on potentially relevant information because they're sick of getting information that isn't useful to them.

Additionally, personalization can increase your open rates. This means including relevant and personal information in emails - the simplest (and most common) example is starting off an email with the recipient's name. Or it can be as complex as pulling in client information - such as last purchase date or reminders to make appointment. Most email marketing tools will have this functionality built-in by default, although your options may be limited depending on the tool you're using.


Make it Mobile-Friendly

Even if you don't see it in your industry (yet), more and more readers are checking email from their phones. This means that designing for mobile shouldn't be an afterthought, but your primary goal when creating emails. As a rule of thumb, if an email follows mobile best practices it will also look good on desktop.

When designing for mobile, remember the following:

  • Pick a responsive design - this means that the width of your email, images, and text will resize based on a reader's device and not a static number.
  • Be smart with images - Include alt text for all images - this is text behind the scenes that describe what an image looks like, in case it doesn't load or the reader won't be able to view images. You also want to check your email with the images disabled to make sure it's still readable and has flow. 
  • Make it easy to read - Use easy to read font in larger sizes and pick high-contrast colors - for example if your background is white, use black text instead of light gray.
  • Use white space and dividers - Making sure that your email isn't clunky is critical for readability. This means making sure there's plenty of room on either side of your text, that your text isn't shoved into one massive paragraph, and that you're using dividers like solid colored lines or alternating background colors to break up sections.

Following these email tips will give your emails the best possible chance for success and avoid adding to the noise. Ultimately, you can't expect that people are naturally just going to read your emails. You also have to make sure they're appealing, easy to read, and entice users to click on them.

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Customer Journey Template [Free Guide]

Are your emails reflecting where your customer is at in their buying journey? Understanding a customer’s journey across your entire organization enables you to discover how to be consistent when it comes to providing a positive customer experience and retaining customer loyalty. 

This download includes 7 free customer journey map templates:

  •   Buyer's Journey Template
  •   Current State Template
  •   Lead Nurturing Mapping Template
  •   Future State Template
  •   A Day in the Customer's Life Template
  •   Customer Churn Mapping Template
  •   Customer Support Blueprint Template

Get the Template

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