Get Better Email Response! 7 Ideas That Make a Difference


EVERY email marketer needs to consider the 7 important ideas I’m about to share in this article.

Because if you’ve built and nurtured an email list of whatever size, there are few more effective ways of generating quality business quickly than sending a good, relevant email promotion direct to that audience – if you get it right.

Sometimes known as ‘standalone’, or ‘solo’, emails, we’re talking about emails with the sole purpose of promoting something.

Now, you could read 1,000 books and dedicate your life to the study of direct/email marketing, and still never master its unique blend of art and science.

But you don’t need to: you will get above-average results by avoiding some common errors, and great results with a bit of concerted effort.

Here are 7 key checks you should make before you hit the ‘send’ button. Have you:

1. Spent time crafting your subject line?

The subject line of your standalone email is THE single most important factor in its success, because it dictates whether recipients actually read your message or not.

Yet too often the subject line is a complete afterthought tacked on at the end of the writing process – big mistake!

I bet if you spent ten times as much time as you currently do on your subject lines, you’d see a handsome payoff. They’re that important.

Your subject line needs to give an indication of the content of your email, but generate the curiosity to make most recipients open the email. Getting that balance right, within the limited space of a subject line (where subject lines of less than 35 characters outperform longer subject lines for open rates) implies hinting at the content without giving everything away.

My advice? Write say, 8 subject lines from different angles. Chew them over. Get input from other people. Test your top 3. Refine. Repeat the process.

One great idea is to keep a file of commercial email that you get that causes you to open it – a ‘swipe file’ – which you can use a source of inspiration.

TO BE AVOIDED: brand names. Usually just a waste of space that telegraph the ‘selling’ intention of a dull, corporate email.

TO CONSIDER INCORPORATING: 35 characters or less (one big study found that sub-35 character subject lines outperformed longer ones), be topical, use the word ‘you’, phrase as a question.

2. Got buy-in to read on (or act) within the top 2-4 inches of your message?

So, let’s assume you’ve written a great subject line and the majority of people are curious enough to start reading your email.

You now have to instantly GRAB your reader and get them to read on – or act – right away. But note well: you have SECONDS to do this!

Not only is the patience of the average internet user close to zero, but more and more recipients use the ‘preview pane’ to vet incoming email, and view email on smaller screens such as those on smartphones.

All these trends mean that the top 2-4 inches of your message are more important than ever. Fail to pique your reader’s interest there, and you’ll lose them. Gone without a second thought.

3. Made it personal?

One of the great strengths of email is that it is a direct, one-to-one medium, yet too many marketers seem to ignore this fact.

It’s a great irony that while all the world’s big brands are seemingly desperate to try to use social media to add a human face, smaller enterprises are falling over themselves to appear ‘big’ and impersonal, despite the fact that consumers almost universally loathe the kind of faceless service embodied by most call centres.

Potential respondents also like the reassurance of having a named individual as a reference point when they deal with a business. I know I do.

So write your emails as a one-to-one letter from a named individual. Include their job title and reinforce that credibility with every element you can – your physical address, the length of time you’ve been established, and names of real people wherever possible.

4. Made one, very clear offer only?

‘We do A, and of course we do B too, and we have some great Cs… oh and don’t forget our Ds… ‘

Making more than one offer at a time is likely to undercut your chances. It’s likely just to confuse your reader.

Promote a single idea in your email and make it abundantly clear what that is. An email promotion is seldom the place to try to be clever, or subtle.

5. Employed the AIDA sequence?

The AIDA sequence is made up of the following:

  • A – attention
  • I – interest
  • D – desire
  • A – action

That is, after your email has grabbed your prospect’s attention, it needs to win their interest, then their desire, before finally motivating them to take action – in that order!

6. Defined the specific action you want recipients to take upon reading your email?

What do you want your recipients to do once they’ve read your email? Buy something? Book for your event? Call your phone line?

A clear ‘call-to-action’, adequately supported with substance, is the whole point of your email promotion.

How clear, strong, and supported by the rest of the promotion, is yours?

7. Kept images in your email to a minimum?

It’s a fact that many of your recipients’ email clients will block images as a default, and that still more emails are viewed as text, for example via a Blackberry device.

Of course images look great but if your core message and/or call to action is only viewable via an image, at a stroke you’ve reduced your chances of response by a significant proportion.

Email is a ‘direct response’ medium. You use it to drive a direct response such as a sale, or a registration. NOT building awareness, or something similarly unmeasurable. Trying to recreate a magazine display ad built for branding almost always fails to generate a good response in email.

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