4 April

Thinking about ... Email engagement

Why my inbox has more unopened than read emails, and how we write banging subject lines to convince our audience that our emails are worth reading.

Thinking about… the hundreds of updates and promotional emails I haven’t opened this year because I’m convinced there’s no reason for me to do it. Some of these messages could be valuable, but I’m unwilling to bet my precious time on a vague promise delivered as a clickbaity or boring email headline.

I’m sure you’ve received similar emails, too. As much as 59% of email users in the UK complain about receiving irrelevant emails. This statistic tells me that many companies engaging in email marketing activities aren’t intentional about how they use email to connect with their potential clients.

  • “My little sausage problem”
  • “Drive into the future”
  • “Do you [random activity] to… ?”
  • “Last chance: [random product name]...”
  • “You’re going to want to watch this…”

It’s a small sample of the noise that clutters my inbox daily. An overwhelming number of email headlines are random statements or fake conversation openers. Subject lines like the ones above show that brands pretend to understand my goals when they, in fact, don’t know me at all. The truth is that they don’t care enough to send a message I might have a real interest in.

These headlines mimic personalisation with the skills and determination of a 5-year-old who pours a cup of invisible tea and invites you to join them. With one crucial difference, though: without the chubby hands, this game is not worth playing, so most emails remain unopened.

Thinking about… intentional communication and how simple it can be to say the right words so the recipient understands why he or she should open that email. The subject line is the first impression your email will make. It’s only wise to use these 60 characters to show respect for someone’s time and lead with the reason to open that email. There’s no need for clickbaity terms, false promises, or misleading information.

How can you become intentional with email marketing and write banging headlines that open emails?

  • Use the subject line to give a clear preview of the content of your email. A headline that communicates what your email is about provides context. For example, “Quick Traffic Hack” clearly communicates what the email is about and provides value. I am encouraged to open the email and read more about the topic.
  • Include numbers or statistics to add credibility and grab the recipient’s attention. They’re effective because our brains are wired to notice and remember numbers, increasing the chances of an email being opened. “31 Influencer Marketing Stats to Know in 2023” is a clear and straightforward subject line that lets the recipient know what to expect from the email.
  • Personalise the subject line to make it more relevant and tailored to the recipient’s interests or needs. You can use their name or other relevant details to make the message feel more human and less like a mass email. Moreover, 91% of customers
    prefer brands that recognise, remember, and provide personalised offers and recommendations.
  • Use questions to pique curiosity or personalise the message. A headline like “With AI, is there a future for marketers?” opens a conversation many want to have now. Pay attention, though, because it’s vital not to turn your headline into a misleading one when asking these questions.

Thinking about… intrigue and building curiosity with subject lines. Often too similar to tabloid titles, subject lines that leverage curiosity can quickly become a double-edged sword for small businesses. The whole idea behind email marketing is to build trust with your audience. The risk of diluting this trust is high when you only use tabloid tricks to create banging subject lines.

There’s nothing wrong with playing with words every once in a while. Subject lines like “Do you remember this?” or “This helped me get more traffic right away” can create a sense of mystery or tease the audience, increasing open rates when sent at the right time to the right people. Abusing this strategy will likely push people off in the long run — especially if you opt for tabloid headlines like “You Won’t Believe What We’re Giving Away” or “Shocking news about [random industry term].”
Balance intrigue with clarity and relevance to ensure the headline helps the recipient understand what’s in the email.

Thinking about… urgency and fake “last chance” messages. Most email marketing best practices include advice on creating FOMO (fear of missing out) or a sense of urgency to increase open rates. Here, too, there’s nothing wrong with testing with such headlines. On the other hand, constantly trying to trick people into clicking on fake “limited-time offers” that last for weeks or months will hit back. That’s not the proper way to nurture your audience and generate engagement, but you damage your credibility and trust with the recipient.

The trick with this tactic is being honest with your audience and creating urgency only when there’s a genuine deadline or time-sensitive offer. Furthermore, tie the urgency in subject lines with email content that provides actual value to the recipient. Only use such headlines for a relevant and valuable offer or information that significantly impacts the recipient’s bottom line.

Integrity and honesty are worth more than a temporary surge in email open rates.

Thinking about... emojis. Do they belong in email headlines? It depends on your brand and your audience. Do people in your email list use emojis and understand their meaning? Then test to find out how an emoji can impact email engagement. Could a smiley face or a fire symbol confuse your audience? Then prioritise clarity and let the emojis to others.

Many statistics show that emojis drive email engagement, but not all audiences are equal. Testing with a sample of your email list before sending emojis to people who might not like them can provide better data than any stats obtained on audiences with nothing in common with the people you target.

Thinking about… running the email marketing marathon. When prioritising the experience instead of KPIs, you tell people you care about them. In time, the fact that an email comes from you will be more important than the subject line. That’s because recognising the sender remains the most important factor in deciding to open an email. So, writing banging subject lines is not as much about creating an intelligent line to increase your open rates once. Instead, it’s a practice that aims to build your reputation as someone who delivers on their promises every time they hit send.

HAVE I GOT YOU THINKING ABOUT the emails you’ve been sending lately and what you’ve prioritised in your email marketing?
I can help you analyse your email marketing strategy and align it with your business strategy so you can finally open intentional conversations. It’s the kind of project that helps everyone — your business will gain a reputation as a trustworthy resource, and everyone in your email list won’t miss out on your content and special offers anymore.

Message me: info@dxdmedia.co.uk

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