Casting the Lure: How to Ensure Your Emails Get Read / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

It takes sheer microseconds for your prospects to decide whether or not to discard an email. In fact, many readers already have their...

If you market online, you know the feeling of triumph or defeat brought by two simple, commonly known, rates: the email open rate and the click-through rate. And, after all the hard work you put into an email marketing campaign - whether it be for a product launch or to sell tickets to your next live event -  there's perhaps nothing more disheartening or frustrating than to see your message go unopened.

It takes sheer microseconds for your prospects to decide whether or not to discard an email. In fact, many readers already have their fingertips on the delete key while sifting through their inbox.

Are you ready to change their minds? Here are 5 ways to ensure your email marketing communications don't go ignored.

Related: View our online marketing resources

Pass the headline test.

The subject line: where battles are won and lost, and the fate of your email is determined at breakneck speeds. This is your reader's first glimpse at what your message has to offer and your first opportunity to pique their curiosity enough to open the email.

As a rule, the "point" of your email is the backbone of your headline. Decide why you are reaching out to your prospects (and the action you want them to take), then trim that statement down to between 35 and 50 total characters, including spaces.

In addition, remember to leverage interesting and timely topics, beginning with your headline, to ensure you grab their interest right from the start. For example, begin your subject line with "How to X," "5 ways to X," or mention "Tips for X," and your prospects can't help but be curious.

Get personal.

As the adage goes, people like doing business with people, not companies. That's why personalization is imperative if you want higher email response rates. Craft messages based on information you know about individual recipients and segments of your list. If you don't know much about your list, send them a poll to get to know them better and to learn what content will interest them.

As a finishing touch for your message, be sure the sender is a person, not a company. People are more likely to open email from a person, rather than from a company or a generic server address.

Related: View our email marketing resources

Don't beat around the bush.

Don't try to trick your prospects into buying; hiding or burying the message's true aim will only undermine your prospects' confidence in your company and likely result in the dreaded spam label.

Instead, foster trust with your list by being straightforward in your messages, starting with the subject line, and continue that trajectory throughout the body of the email. Make sure each message has a direct and clear call to action, and then make that action simple for your readers to take by including appropriate links and contact information.

Make it relevant and interesting.

Relevant and timely messages increase email marketing open rates (and click-through rates) because they build a rapport with your list.

Be sure your emails offer valuable information or educational content to your prospects, and tie in this information with new developments or important events. In turn, your list will trust that, when they see emails from you in the future, they can count on receiving content that is worth their engagement and time.

Be consistent.

Stay in touch with your prospects and maintain a predictable or consistent pattern. Whether you email subscribers once a week or once a month, consistency promotes a greater level of trust and loyalty toward you and your services.

When determining the appropriate amount to reach out to your list, remember that the optimal frequency for receiving email messages is declining across all categories. It's best to err on the side of caution to keep from oversaturating your prospects. To keep your list from getting bored, try mixing up your communications by integrating a direct mail program with your email campaign. This boosts response rates from 5 percent to 15 percent, as measured in click-throughs.

Keep in mind the kind of messages you appreciate in your own inbox, and give your list the same quality you look for in open-worthy email. That way, you'll foster the goodwill necessary to keep your messages far away from the digital dump.

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Michelle Salater is the CEO of Sūmèr, a full-service copywriting firm for overwhelmed businesses that need big-picture strategy, want it executed now, and desire to grow fast. Michelle is an award-winning writer and content expert featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, MyBusiness Magazine, M.O. Online, and Entreprenista, among others. Learn more at, or visit her wildly popular marketing blog, Copy Doodle, at

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