A frighteningly simple way to get your emails read

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Email may seem like a marketing dream. It’s free, it’s quick, and you can instantly send your message to thousands of potential customers with just a few clicks.

But email is a victim of its own success. So many emails flood our inboxes each day that only a choice few are actually read, with most deleted after a cursory glance at the subject line. (Incidentally, this is why direct mail is still one of the best ways to reach potential customers. An envelope with a stamp and your name on is hard to ignore and will almost always be opened)

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So how do you make your emails cut through the tide of spam and ensure they are actually opened?

The most important factor in email open rates is who the message is from, as recipients are far more likely to open messages from people they know. Not much you can do about that – you either know someone or you don’t.

However, the second most important factor is the subject line – the little bit of information that pops up in your inbox and lets you know what’s in the email. What you say here is very important. It needs to be interesting and offer something enticing to the recipient, so you need to think carefully about what you write.

But there is one extremely simple thing you can do here to ensure people read your emails. And it doesn’t involve the slightest bit of thought:

You just have to add the recipient’s name.

To demonstrate why this works, imagine you are walking down the street. What is the one thing guaranteed to get your attention?

Someone calling your name.

No matter what you’re doing, or how busy you are, if you hear your name called, you look to see who is speaking to you. You want to know who it is and what they want.

The same goes for emails. If someone uses your name, your interest is piqued and you want to know more, so you open the email.

To give an example from my own inbox, here’s a subject line that caught my eye from this morning’s deluge:

It read ‘Martin, are you missing out on potential profits?’

Obviously a sales email, but the use of my name made it very hard to ignore. If it had said simply ‘Are you missing out on potential profits?’, I don’t think I’d have opened it.

But very few companies use this technique, as a quick scan of your inbox will tell you. Bad news for them but, if you follow this advice, good news for you.


Author: Martin Sayers

Martin Sayers is a UK copywriter and owner of copywriting agency MSCopy. You can get free marketing advice from Martin direct to your inbox by signing up to the MSCopy monthly marketing tips.