How to get your emails opened consistently

Hello, children. Today we’re talking about how to be the proud owner of a successful e-mail campaign. (If you clicked because you thought this was about emailing to blogs, you probably won’t find this post very useful, but there’re millions of articles to be found on that bit, and if you start here you won’t need to look much further to know everything you need to.) You only care about this post if you have a long string of emails you’ve accumulated, probably from throwing free downloads, contests, and raffles around like an angry lion in a room full your favorite kind of puppies after having been taken from his pride and shocked on the nose repeatedly by one of those mobile electric chairs for flies.

Now, because you’re a reasonable person you thought e-mail marketing was dead, but unfortunately it’s still flopping around on the ground where we left it. So this is where I give you some not exactly fun, but slightly titillating facts (which I have verified) to convince you it’s not a grand plot of the evilest kind.

  1. 91% of online customers check their emails at least once per day
  2. 77% of consumers prefer email for marketing communications
  3. 66% of online consumers say they’ve made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message.
  4. Email has much longer lifespan than social media (though it’s less likely to be shared)
  5. Even cold emailing is somewhat effective (but don’t use it for reasons I’ll get into)
  6. 89% of marketers said email was their primary channel for lead generation in a pretty big study
  7. For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25
  8. E-mail still leads media in customer acquisition and secures nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined (though I don’t know how much of this is causation by/correlation with statistic #5)

Now hopefully you’re convinced you should be putting some effort into the email list you’ve probably been sitting on or abusing, so now I’m going to hammer out some dos and don’ts for how to get emails opened and reacted to in case you’re like me and want to get in, get the gist, and gtfo. Then I’ll follow up with some sage-ass tips.

Dos and don’ts for how to get emails opened and reacted to favorably (in the short and long-term.) (Some of these are ripped off from the weeks reading and some are my own.)

General guidelines (to keep in mind)

  1. Focus your campaign on people who know you or at least about you.
  2. Anything you send should be adding value, not asking for it. People online are constantly deciding if content is worth to them the time it would take to digest it; they don’t allocate time to do favors. This is why posts and messages like “hey can you [give me feedback]?” never work.
  3. Tailor emails to the groups they’re going to. Remember from the last post to keep in mind that you will have different groups of people in different stages of awareness, liking of, or dedication to your material, so don’t send them all the same thing. (For example, if you have a list of people who have unabashedly promoted you in the past, you can send them information that most people wouldn’t care about, like show times, in an easily sharable format. And when they share it, those exposed will be much more likely to pay attention than if they were looking at a promotion sent by mine truly.)
  4. Remember that your audience will be a lot like you in more ways than one; is your email something you’d want to receive?
  5. Be friendly and energetic.
  6. Establish your usefulness with things like how-to videos, insider information (real “secrets” to the craft you don’t really feel like divulging), special offers, outside links, entertaining content, etc.) so that they are more likely to open the next email.
  7. Establish commonality with your audience “you probably love/hate ___ as much as I do”…
  8. Email regularly so you stay in the forefront of their minds, but if you’re as big as, give options to tailor how many emails/week they recieve.
  9. Don’t spam because:
    1. It doesn’t work and is therefore a waste of time.
    2. The few people who recognize you or learn of you via spam will associate you with annoyance or illegitimacy.
    3. Your email will eventually be flagged and your messages will start going directly to jail (keep this in mind if you ever consider purchasing lists.)
Remember, anything visual or funny, even if it's not entirely related, gives the recipient's mind a break and a reason to stick around. (But try to make it related... somehow.)
Remember, anything visual or funny, even if it’s not entirely related, gives the recipient’s mind a break and a reason to stick around. (But try to make it related… somehow.)

Specific tactics (check-list kinda shit)

  1. Make the subject descriptive, non-obvious, and short. (Not only should it grab their attention in less than 3 seconds, but if you’re Hucci, the word “music” or even “trap” (or even “dope as all tits”) shouldn’t be taking up space.
  2. Pretend like opening sentences are tweets… or half tweets. (Keep the words “bing bang boom” in mind while crafting them. What are you offering?) You may have up to 5 seconds to get their attention here; they want to know the who, the why, and the duration of the proposed bothering.
  3. Unlike when emailing bloggers (who are looking for things to differentiate you from many others wanting the same thing) using a recipient’s first name or last name doesn’t significantly improve open rates, so don’t worry about this too much.
  4. Providing localization however, such as including a city name, does improve open rates
  5. Use action words. (Remember high school English).
  6. People like to know you’re real and honest, so open up to your recipients and be vulnerable whenever you can. It might be because of oxytocin, maybe not, but for some reason it works.
  7. Make sure you have links in the email so they can learn more, take action, or share your stuff. (Internet transactions are largely about leveraging impulse, so if they get a wild hair, make sure it has an outlet.)
  8. If you don’t receive a reply from a specific request, send a follow up email about 3-4 days later to see if they received it or if it went to the spam folder. (Don’t be afraid of this because the chances of them having missed the first are relatively high and this tactic’s effectiveness has been proven.)

Dos and don’ts which happen to be enforced by law (CAN-SPAM Act)

  • Don’t use false or misleading header Information
  • Don’t have a deceptive subject line (use a subject line that accurately reflects the content)
  • Include your Postal Address
  • Identify the message as an ad somehow
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you (include a working “unsubscribe” link in every mail you send)

Whew. And that’s it! You now have a filtered, organized, and even embellished understanding of e-mail marketing from the following articles we had to cover:

as well as a few points from this other random one:

and some other one I lost track of.

And now for….

#Protips on using SM comments to get high-quality email contacts

If you have over 3000 followers (a rough number I just made up but =/- 0.5 of exact) most listeners will REALLY appreciate your validation. Respond to EVERY meaningful or thoughtful comment directed at you and try to respond to most feedback, even if it’s with a simple “<3”. I hate to say it, but this goes for messages too. Their finding of a response to a comment they left is like finding a $1 bill they didn’t know was lost, and getting a response to a message is like finding the $10 bill they’d been looking for. Do this just past the point of pain. This little step turns someone who might go to a show into someone who will go and who might bring a bunch of people, and it’s the same effect with sharing your content. Should you choose NOT to do this, you will be punished doubly by missed opportunity and making fans bitter.*

When someone, spammer or not, comments with “reposted @___” or “blogged @____”, respond with a “damn thanks, homie! Give me your email and I’ll send you (insert name of not usually free content/song) for free!” Obviously this gets them on your email list, makes them like you more, and incentivizes everyone else to share your content.


2 thoughts on “How to get your emails opened consistently

  1. As a follow up to my comment about simply listing tips I see you’ve simply listed more tips. How does email marketing relate to previous topics, A/B testing, content management, copy writing, and strategy? How do you acquire good emails? What about CTR? Bounce rates? What does it all mean for the firm? You should be showing that you understand how all the pieces fit together.


    1. As far as what I should be showing, since we’re given no direction on the blogs, I talked to Mark and he said it’s totally legit to try to show my audience how to use what I’m reading about, and that we should try to avoid writing for you guys (showing you such and such).
      As far as lists go, again I’m trying to make this as beneficial to my readers as possible, meaning as straight to the point as I can get, with as little repetition as possible. As far as “simply” goes, I’d like to make 2 defenses. 1, I’m not listing things just randomly; I give added explanations where I think they’ll be valuable. 2, if you’ll notice, these lists contain every point from all the readings and videos (which have a LOT of points and excessive overlap) that legitimate readers could benefit from and which haven’t been addressed in a previous post, which takes a LOT of thought, re-arranging, and consolidating…. as opposed to scanning a few points and writing some paragraphs that re-hash old material.
      But if you have any advice on how to more effectively do what I’m trying to do I’m all ears and would greatly appreciate your critiques.


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