How to Get Your Message Heard

Jessica Brannen / February 19, 2015

A few weeks ago, we helped you calculate the monetary value of your emails. If, after calculating your email’s worth, you discovered your emails were, well, worthless, don’t fret. Here are five ways to improve your emails.

Step One: Keep Subject Lines Simple  

To get to your website, people must first open your emails. And to do that, you must craft a great subject line. Having a poor subject line is like fishing with a blade of grass or pine cone as your lure. Not only do you look foolish, but you also look amateurish. To be a good fisherman, to be an even better copywriter, you have to bait the hook to catch the fish.

Great subject lines have one main hook: they are simple, not salesy. If your tone sounds too salesy, if your intentions appear ulterior, if at all you arouse suspicion, people will think you’re SPAM and send your message to the trash.

And by keeping subject lines simple, you avoid all pretentious language. For instance, consider recent research performed by MailChimp, one of the top email marketing service providers. According to their research, the following subject line formulas had a 60-87% open rate.

  • [Company Name] staff shirts and photos
  • [Company Name] May 2005 News Bulletin!
  • Upcoming Events at [Company Name]

Notice not only their simplicity, but their personality, indeed, their humanity: each one, and MailChimp lists 17 more like these, articulate something about the company, business or individual. Compare that to the following, which have a 1-14% open rate, and you’ll see why simplicity always beats sales language.

  • Valentine’s Day Salon and Spa Special!
  • Last Minute Gift – We Have the Answer
  • You Asked for More …

The problem with these emails is that they ask – rather directly – to be opened. Their obvious “hook” creates immediate suspicion. It’s like in middle school when a kid wearing a suspicious grin would offer you a piece of gum: had you followed your gut, had you not taken the “gum,” you wouldn’t have felt the electric shock.

Step Two: Show Your Benefit, Immediately

What can be said about subject line reception can be said about reception in general: we answer calls from people we know, not unknown callers. Once we answer the call, however, we want to know why you’re calling us.

After you remind us of your humanity, then, tell us why we should accept your offer. If I cannot discern the benefit of your email within the first five seconds, you’ve lost my attention. In other words, you must quickly show you have something I need.

Think of your emails as a yard sale. If you don’t have something interesting, if you don’t offer a sale, a deal, a free subscription, something, you won’t be compelling. You won’t have a yard of leads but a yard of stuff, your stuff. Show me that what you have satisfies my needs, and you’ll have yourself another customer.

Step Three: Clarify Your Call-to-Action

So you crafted a simple subject line. You wrote your benefits in plain, unadorned fashion. Next, you want to send your reader to your website, convert him or her from email recipient to lead. To do this, you must clarify your call-to-action. In this case, your call-to-action will be a call to move from email to website to payment page, in that order.

Make these calls clear: do not bury them in globs of text or glamour photos. Make sure there is a “Read More,” somewhere on the page, a clear indicator that something more exists, and the email recipient needs to click to find out what that more entails.

Step Four: Experiment with Different Offers

If your emails aren’t selling, consider that which you’re selling. Different offers appeal to different audiences, and if your featured offer doesn’t resonate, you may want to change your sales strategy. If a discount doesn’t elicit response, try a free trial. If the free trial flops, try a gift giveaway. Experiment a little, and you’ll quickly discover what your audience likes (and doesn’t like).

Step Five: Find More Email Addresses

If after putting into practice the previous four steps, you see no results, then your recipients don’t want what you’re offering. Fair enough. Find more email addresses. Find more potential leads. Find more people. Someone, somewhere, wants your product, wants what you’re offering, wants your emails. Find that person and every person like him or her.

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An advertising graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta, Jessica Brannen brings a strategic and creative eye to managing social media and online presence for Kelsey's clients.

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