Whether you're sending a sales letter to a potential client, a monthly newsletter to a customer, or an important message to a very busy person, you want your email to be opened. Better yet, you want your email to be read. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for hundreds, if not thousands, of unread emails to sit in a cluttered inbox – that is, if it hasn't been rerouted to the user's spam folder first. To increase the chances of your message being seen, here are a few tips and tricks that can help your email get noticed.
Have A Powerful Subject Line: You probably know from having your own email account that you don't open every message you receive, nor do you read your messages in order. Instead, you skim your inbox for what's important and ignore or delete the rest. How do you determine what's worth reading and what isn't? It's likely a combination of who sent the email and what the subject line says. Since you can't change who sent the email, developing a powerful subject line is your next best tactic to getting your email read. First off, your subject line should be specific. Titles like "September Newsletter" are just too easy to disregard, while those like "Friday," "The New Project," or "Accounting Problems, Etc." are too vague, not to mention unprofessional. If you're sending a sales letter, pitch letter, newsletter, blog post, or special announcement, come up with a title that's both informative and catchy. If you're writing an important message, provide enough details in the subject line to indicate to the recipient its level of priority. Expecting a reply? Then you may want to include "please reply" right in the subject line as well. You should also be careful with how you use sales language. Words like "free," "discount," "percent off" and "today only" may catch your reader's attention, or it can get your sent to the spam box. While an attention-grabbing subject line is important, be careful that you don't make exaggerations, rank every email as high priority, or mark each message with an ASAP. If you hype up every email, your recipients will stop taking them seriously, and that will be a problem when you really do have a message that needs attention.
Lead with Compelling Information: Along with your subject line, your email recipient will usually get a preview of the start of your email. Your greeting and your first sentence are valuable email real estate, so they should be used to their full potential. An email that starts with "Dear Sir or Madam," "Dear Valuable Customer," "To Whom It May Concern" or even "Hello!" is typically a straight shoot to the trashcan because it looks like spam. Whenever possible, take the extra time to research the name of the person who will receive your email. Just like good old snail mail, a message that's specifically addressed to your recipient is much more likely to be opened. The first line of your email should not be wasted on casual conversation. Instead, lead your email with the most important information first. Save the lunch invitation, weekend recap, or funny story for the end. If you require your recipient to complete an action (example: finish reading that morning, send a reply, attend a meeting on short notice), then you may want to include that action in your first sentence as well.
Use A Good Signature: Messages that are sent without a signature, or with a name and no further information, are usually also straight shoots to your recipient's trashcan. They don't know who you are (you could be anyone), nor is your email upfront about telling them. You might be legit, or you might be a scam, and most people won't take more than a second or two trying to figure it out. A good email signature should include your name, your title, your company's name, your company's website, and multiple ways to contact you. An even better email signature will also include your company's logo, your company's slogan, social media buttons, and a touch of color. The more "evidence" you have to prove that your blog or business is real, the more likely it is that your recipient will take a few extra moments to read your email. Including a unique sign off that's related to your industry and reflects your brand can add the extra special touch that makes your message stand out.
Make Your Message A Quick Read: With over half of online activity taking place over tablets and phones, your email's readability is a top priority. Nobody has time to read a wall of text, nor do they want to on a tiny little screen. When possible, keep your emails polite, but short and to the point. Avoid being overly conversational (this isn't a phone call or coffee date) and eliminate superfluous information. Stick to the topic at hand. Of course, there are times you will need to send emails that are a bit on the longer side: sales pitches, newsletters, blog articles, meeting minutes, etc. When this is the case, there are techniques you can use to help make your emails seem less intimidating. By using lots of small paragraphs instead of a few large ones, your email may appear longer overall, but it will be faster to read and easier to pause and pick up. You can also use graphics and other design techniques to help split up the information. Bullet-pointed lists can also be an effective way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time.
Send At The Right Time: With the average person sending and receiving over 100 emails everyday, the time that you send your email to clients, customers, and colleagues matters. You should take into account when your recipient is likely to check their mail, as well as when they're not likely to check it. For example, if you're sending a business-related email to someone who works the typical corporate hours (Monday - Friday, 8am to 5pm) then sending an email at night, on the weekends, or even on a Friday afternoon may not be in your best interest. In addition to your recipient not being around to check their email, your message is more likely to get lost in a sea of other emails sent during off hours. You should also avoid sending emails to those you know are out sick or on vacation. As they'll be returning to a crowded inbox, your message is again more likely to be overlooked or ignored. Should you happen to send an important message and receive an automatic response, you may want to consider resending the email a day or two after the recipient has returned to follow up.
Don't Overuse Your Email: Despite its instant speed, email is not instant messenger. You don't want to clobber your recipients with hourly updates, one-sentence memos, dozens of advertisements for your sale, or idle chit-chat. Not only is this likely to annoy your recipients, they'll get used to disregarding your messages, so the time you do send something that's really important, it may not get opened or read. Additionally, if you're going back and forth with someone over email for more than a couple of messages, you may want to consider moving to other forms of communication. An issue that cannot seem to be efficiently solved over email may sit for some time without a resolution before it ultimately lost in the inbox and forgotten.