People like email.
As much as the naysayers will have you believe that email is dead, the stats say otherwise.
89% of Americans check email at least once a day while 27.6% check their email 1-5 times a day.
72 percent of consumers prefer email as their source of business communication.
61 percent of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly
But this doesn’t mean that email is a piece of cake.
It doesn’t mean that every email you send out is going to be read, rejoiced and revered.
You still need to stand out in the inbox.
You still need to write emails that people look forward to opening.
There are plenty of emails that miss the mark in the writing, the message or even the design.
If your emails fall into this category, as juicy as the stats are, you’ll never be able to tap into the returns that email marketing gives.
If you have even the slightest of doubts that your emails suck (or are being ignored by your subscribers), this post is for you.
Here are 20 nifty hacks you can try, to stand out in the inbox.
Grab the checklist below that walks you through the steps you need to take before you hit send on an email.
#1 Brand your email list
Get subscribers to connect your name with an emotion…to connect your name with value.
Make it a no-brainer for them to want to open your emails.
Unlike what most people believe, 64% of subscribers say they are likely to read an email because of who it’s from.
Only 47% attribute it to the subject line.
So your name matters more than you think.
But what steps can you take to get there?
This isn’t a simple technique or strategy that you can put in place within a day.
There are no shortcuts here.
And only you can make this happen.
Start by being consistent with your emails.
That said, don’t send an email just for the sake of sending it.
Don’t compromise on quality just because you have to send something out.
You can skip a week or two if your emails don’t have a strong call to action or you have no compelling reason to email your list.
You can also give your list a break if you just had a major launch and have been emailing your list pretty heavily.
While not every email will be your best, make each email count.
Always aim to give a light bulb moment or a takeaway in every email.
#2 Make subject lines clear, catchy and actionable
Most subject lines fall under the following categories:
- Urgency or scarcity
- Special offers
- Social proof (e.g. How I did…./THIS made me….)
- Story (e.g. I failed…/ I never thought…)
Experiment with subject line styles from different categories.
See what attracts your audience.
If your email service provider has an a/b test function, use it.
Incorporate symbols to get attention as well. But don’t overdo them and they lose their effect on your subscribers.
This article from Sleeknote gives you examples of these subject line categories in action.
#3 Don’t make your email look like work
Make the first sentence of your email attention-grabbing and short.
Make it easier for your subscribers to go down the screen.
People need to feel like they are actually making progress through your email.
If they take one glance and see a huge block of text with no white space….
They’re going to flag your email, chuck it in a folder for later or just forget about it.
#4 Keep it simple and focused
Check this out and then do this and then do that
Received an email like that?
Don’t have too many calls to action unless your email style is that of a curated newsletter or roundup.
But that doesn’t mean you get stingy with your links.
You should include more than one link in your emails.
Preferably in the top–middle–end–P.S. That’s how many you can include.
And no, it’s not weird at all.
But don’t shroud your emails with several calls to action.
If you do, your most important one gets buried and your subscribers never take action on what you want them to.
And the #1 goal of email is to get an action or response from your subscriber. So space out your emails.The #1 goal of email is to get an action or responseClick To Tweet
#5 Write like you talk
Here’s what a reader shared with me:
“I’m struggling to unlearn all the writing skills I had acquired over the years in school. It’s not easy to write in an easy, conversational manner”
The same struggle carries over to email.
But the more you practice, the better your conversational style of writing gets.
All caps…starting a sentence with but (I’ve done it thrice already in this post)…all these are ok and make you look human.
#6 Write for skimmers even in your emails
Single line sentences…
One word sentences…
2-3 line paragraphs at most…
All of the rules that apply to writing for the web, work for email too.
#7 Avoid the hard sell, almost always
You don’t need to hard sell to get the sale.
You can prime your audience for the sale.
You can gently nudge them so that they are ready.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send sales emails or reminders.
You definitely should.
I always tell my readers that they shouldn’t apologize for selling.
But it also means feeling good about the selling you do, without forcing your audience or talking down to them.
#8 Don’t talk down to your audience
You know those pop-ups that make you feel yucky for not subscribing?
The ones that force you to click ‘No, I don’t want more traffic because I’m stupid’ or ‘I’d rather be poor than get your amazing report?’
Don’t do that in your emails – whether they are sales emails or otherwise.
#9 Go easy on the Special offer emails
One thing I see is an uprise in the special offer or flash sale email.
I have nothing against special offers but when they are sent as often as they are, the novelty is lost.
You won’t be able to push as many people off the fence (and buy your offer) as you were able to before, because people will expect you t0 have that offer again.
They won’t feel compelled to take action.
#10 Spell out what’s in it for them in each email
Self-serving vs audience serving.
Sometimes there can be a very thin line between both.
Always ask ‘what’s in it for your audience’.
That’s what they care about.
That’s why they got on your list.
Even if you’re sharing a personal story, a success or a failure ask ‘what’s in it for them’.
#11 Measure your email performance and act
Take note of which emails get opened and which ones are able to get your subscribers to act.
That’s the goal of email after all.
If you get a 40% open rate but no click-throughs to your sales page, to your blog posts or surveys, then it defeats the purpose of that email.
The click-through rate reveals how people are responding to the content of your email.
If very few of your subscribers are taking action, consider the following:
- Is the email poorly written?
- Is the call to action clear?
- Was it badly timed (holidays etc)
- Is the email distracting?
- Are there too many topics in your email?
#12 Get them to reconnect with your brand
Not many will agree with this but there’s a reason I get subscribers to take one additional step to sign up for a VIP list or a new content upgrade in a post.
Every time they opt back they recommit to the relationship they have with your brand.
They’re making a micro-commitment by opting back in.
You’re certain they want to get on that VIP list…you’re certain they want that download.
Sure, you can make it really easy for them with a one-click download once they are on your list (and I still do this at times)…
But how do you know that everyone who clicks through really wants and is interested in that download, video or program?
So always look for ways to get your subscribers to reconnect with your brand – get them to make micro-commitments.Always look for ways to get your subscribers to reconnect with your brand - to make micro-commitments. Click To Tweet
#13 Don’t let design overpower or mitigate your message
I’m not a fan of email templates.
But if you must use one, make sure it renders well on different devices.
Hire someone professional who can get it done for you.
#14 Don’t hesitate to email often
People will self-select and unsubscribe if they don’t like your email frequency.
But I’ve never shied away from sending too many emails.
If you have something to say that will benefit or give value to your readers, say it.
#15 Tag and Segment
If someone has already bought your product, keep them out of your sales emails for that very product.
You’d be amazed at how often I get emails asking me to buy a product I’ve already bought.
There are some tags and segments that are non-negotiable. You need to put them in place.
Here are some examples:
- In welcome email sequence (exclude these subscribers from your broadcast emails and promotions)
- Purchased product X (exclude these subscribers from promotions)
- Interested in X ( X= topic/product)
- Clicked through to sales page
#16 Use a P.S.
There’s something about the P.S that makes it so irresistible.
Use it for reminders or to share something quirky.
You can also use it to build anticipation for your next email. An unused P.S is like wasted email real estate.An unused P.S is like wasted email real estateClick To Tweet
#17 Ask questions
Get your subscribers thinking by raising questions in your emails.
Rhetorical questions are a great way to engage your subscribers.
#18 Use hype + urgency
Get them excited. A little hype never hurts.
Nudge them to take action by spelling out the benefits.
Then couple this together with urgency.
#19 Don’t be click-bait or clever
Building hype and curiosity does not have to stem from clever or click-bait subject lines.
You can get your point across clearly by being direct.
Be upfront about what exactly they’re going to get out of your blog post…what exactly they’re going to get out of your product or service.
Every now and then switch things up. Be different and try a new style.
You won’t know what your audience takes to unless you put it out there.
There’s no easy formula for email marketing
There are people who will find it a lot easier to write emails and connect with their audience.
There are people who will struggle and take longer.
Whichever camp you fall in, the success of your email marketing depends on how well you know your audience….
…how well you’re able to get them to take an intended action.
It takes lots of trial and error and experimentation to get to that place.
So if you don’t get it right the first few times, don’t despair.
Stop obsessing over meaningless stats like the best day to send your email or the optimal subject line length.
At the end of the day, none of that matters if your subscribers open your emails for YOU.
And you can get to that place.
Start by implementing 1-2 of these hacks and work your way down the list.