Off-Hour Sends, Numbers, Welcomes and Empathy Can Help Get Emails Noticed

Adjust your subject line to how your audience opens your emails. If it’s on their phone, go short; on desktop you can go longer. According to a study from Marketo, 41 characters, or 7 words, seems to be a sweet spot for email subject line length. Other advice? Be direct and reflect what’s in the email. That will also build trust.

“Catch up quickly on DMV news every morning,” an email subject line from The Washington Post read last week. The email promotes a new newsletter from the Post called The 7 DMV [DC, Maryland, Virginia for those out-of-towners]. “We’re launching The 7 DMV, a super-scannable briefing newsletter, written with your busy morning in mind.”

For some, we’ve reached the point where “quickly,” “busy” and “super-scannable” are words of choice for promoting content. (Also interesting that they’ve put a number in their newsletter title.) For others, like Morning Brew, short and sweet still reigns. “Something old, something new” was Friday’s subject line. They believe in their brand to the point of simply relying on their coffee icon in the subject line.

In their Email Engagement Report – Q2 2022, Omeda tested their results that short subject lines get more opens and clicks—on their own newsletter mailing. “In the end, our winning subject line was ‘Omeda Newsletter’—beating out every phrase and all the top subject line keywords we tested,” they wrote. “After testing longer and shorter phrases on other types of emails, what we found is simple: subject lines that are short, concise and specific are most successful.”

Here are 9 other ways to get more attention for your emails:

Focus on the content creators. When it came to hiring writers for Morning Brew, managing editor Neal Freyman said that he had focused on hiring people with a comedic streak, rather than traditional journalists. “We’re super bullish on the fact that people are really loyal to particular individuals. We do think that brands are important, which is why it’s Morning Brew not Neal Freyman that sends you an email. That works—it’s not extinct.”

Take a number please. Email open and reply rates go up when there’s a number in the subject line. “Numbers and data get your emails noticed,” a report said last year. “Demonstrate a clear and straightforward message about your offer, and set the right expectations for your readers, helping draw them in.”

Make it a welcome message. I recall a study that said welcome messages get opened more than any others. We like to be invited in. More than 30% of onsite digital subscriptions originate from welcome messages that provide an introduction to new readers and “warn” messages that serve as reminders as the reader approaches the paywall meter limit. Also use your welcome email or series to ask questions of your subscribers so you can segment better later.

Compare and test. Compare when people opened your email to the day/time you actually sent it. Then send your next email at that time when your readers are telling you they are most likely to open email.” Also test different send lines—a person compared to an organization; a mobile responsive design; and a strong call to action—is it telling people exactly the action they should take?

Monitor your sender reputation. According to Demand Metric, “a surprising percentage of study participants do not monitor their sender reputation or were unsure if it is being monitored. Marketers who are not actively monitoring their sender reputation should strongly consider leveraging Sender Score, Google Postmaster Tools, Microsoft SNDS, or other similar tools.”

Give thought to the preheader text. Preheaders summarize the content in your email for added explanation and enticement. Your readers get an opportunity to preview the email, even while it sits unopened in their inbox. I just started doing this for another newsletter, and the open rate has increased. When done right, the subject line and the preheader complement each other. One example: “Innovative event ideas – Coffee mugs for speakers, drive-in meetings and year-round platforms highlight new twists for the virtual age.”

Send at off times. “As found in our report, 70% of all email traffic occurs within the first 10 minutes of every hour,” writes Greg Kimball, SVP for Validity. “It’s easy for email marketers to schedule their bulk sends for round numbers like 12 and 1 p.m., but if every marketer thinks this way, that means your recipients are getting dozens of impersonal, automated emails in the same chunks of time throughout the day. Shifting your sends by just 10 to 15 minutes means your emails won’t get lost in the hourly influx of messages.”

Seek customer feedback. “To ensure high email relevancy, implement ongoing feedback mechanisms,” Validity reports. “Functionality like ‘rate this email’ provides a quick way to gain visibility into what subscribers want. It’s also a good idea to routinely schedule re-engagement campaigns to maintain list hygiene.

Be empathetic. “The COVID-19 pandemic taught senders important lessons about achieving the right balance of commercialism and empathy in email,” writes Validity. “…Senders need to find ways to give their emails a human element and sell with sensitivity.” Added Morning Brew’s Freyman: “We’re empathetic, we’re not condescending, and we’re not super cheesy. And then under that umbrella, feel free to go crazy.”

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