A Surefire Way to Get Your 2016 Emails Opened

Dan Richards

In past years, I have sent clients a year-end email with the subject line “Holiday Wishes.” In that email, I told people that instead of gifts and cards, I had made a contribution to the Salvation Army. I think we’d all agree this was a nice sentiment.

Despite that, I never got much of a response. So last year, I mixed it up and sent people an animated e-card from Blue Mountain, one of the leaders in online cards. The card looked great. The only problem, similar to my usual email with holiday wishes, was that it got zero response, either at the time or afterwards.

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It was as if the emails had never happened.

This year, I took an entirely different route. For my last article of 2015, I want to share two changes that led to a dramatic boost in the impact of my holiday emails.

Why your emails aren’t opened

We shouldn’t take it personally when people don’t respond to our messages. Many people are swamped by the volume of online communication and respond only to urgent issues where they absolutely must. That’s why getting not only prospects but even clients to open your emails is challenging. As for getting people to respond to you, in today’s time-pressed world that’s harder still.

Even in the best of times, many people feel like they’re drowning in emails. Now think about the holiday season, when people are distracted, and all the Christmas emails are flying around. At this time of year, getting people to open and respond to your emails is even tougher.

What did I do to dramatically increase the response to my holiday emails? I changed the subject line, and I changed the body of the message.

Getting past ho hum

Getting emails opened begins with your subject line. The first key is keeping your subject line short. My article, How to Get Clients to Open Your Emails, outlined research showing that once your subject line is more than three words, your open rate drops by 60%. But being short isn’t enough.

You also have to be different. “Holiday Wishes” and “Seasons Greetings” are short, but they are also ho hum. You need to say something in your subject line that stands out and intrigues recipients enough to get them to click open. That’s why the subject line for my email was “Holiday Smile.” The goal was to pique a person’s curiosity sufficiently to get him or her to click open. And it worked; the open rate was way higher than in the past.

Engage readers

Of course, getting your emails opened is only the starting point. To get clients to read your email, you have to deliver a message that stands out and that has an emotional impact. One way to do that is by including links to videos – we e all know the power of short videos in making us smile.

As it happens, earlier in December I attended a presentation of award-winning commercials from around the world. I picked two that stood out in terms of entertainment value and made them the focal point of my email. A key driver in my selection was to feature commercials that clients were unlikely to have seen. As cute as some Super Bowl commercials may be, there’s little point to sending clients something they’ve seen before.