Here’s my morning ritual, I’m wondering if you can identify with it…

When I get to the computer and push the power button, it requires a few minutes to completely boot up-  usually gives me just enough time to refill my coffee mug.  Upon returning to my desk with a hot cup of Jo, I click the envelope icon that launches me into my email server.  I patiently wait for my inbox to refresh and wonder what might be in store for me.  I’ve got my “to do” list glaring at me next to my mouse pad, but first I want to filter through the list of messages to find out which ones might require my immediate attention.

Today was a slow day, only 43 new messages since I shut down last night at 8:00pm.  Sometimes it’s as many as 80.  Not sure who’s out there writing emails at 2:00am but apparently that is someone’s job.  I quickly delete anything that looks like a solicitation along with anything sent to me by someone I don’t know.  If the subject line grabs my attention I might open it or save it, otherwise it’s delete, delete, delete, and so on…  If it takes more than 5-6 seconds to open due to complicated graphics–  delete.  If it’s one of those eNewsletters sent out to hundreds (if not thousands) of people, the top headline better grab my attention otherwise–  delete.  Even if it comes from someone I know, if it’s more than just a few sentences I’ll rarely read it.  More likely I’ll save it and read it later.  I’m trying to get my work day started and my brain is on filter mode, filtering out anything that isn’t vitally important.

We all seem to have our own “spam protection devices” built in to our brains, so with that in mind (no pun intended) is email marketing even worth the hassle or is email marketing dead?  MailChimp (one of the world’s top email servers) reports that on average, only about 20{c55e560418ce770390e014a82a8daba02ae2bc5167395c1376161ff6ec3b989b} of marketing emails ever get opened, even fewer actually get read.  But if you want to improve your shot at having your emails reach your target audience, here’s a few rules to follow.

Be Brief

Marketing emails should be no longer than a few sentences- even better if the reader never has to scroll down.  Think of how you feel when you get one of those long email marketing newsletters.  How often do you read it versus deleting it?

Be Informative

Wait, how can you be brief and informative at the same time?  Put the important information on your blog or website, then hit the highlights in your email with 3-4 sentences and include a link back to your blog.  This will drive more traffic to your site, which is always good, and give you a way to keep your online content fresh, which keeps the search engines happy.

Avoid Fancy Graphics

Fancy graphics may look great, but they scream solicitation.  The minute you get an email loaded with graphics, your brain starts to think “someone is trying to sell me something”.  This sets you on a course for the delete button.  Plus, the majority of emails today are opened on a smartphone over a 3G connection.  Emails packed with html graphics can take 30-60 seconds or longer to fully download.  A download time of anything more than about five seconds will result in quick deletion.

Be Strategic About the Time

I tend to send emails mid-morning.  My favorite time is 9:00am.  By then, people have already deleted all of the spam of the previous evening yet their brains are still fresh.  Don’t send an important email at 4:00 in the afternoon.  Doing so means it will either be seen by tired eyes or get lumped in with the next morning’s pile.

Be Personal

There’s an art to doing this well.  You know you’ve written an excellent email if you can send it out to 1000 people and get responses from recipients who think that you only sent it to them.  This starts with the subject line and carries on down through the entire email.  Write your email as if you are talking to one person, not the 1000.  It may take a bit of practice, but doing it well will skyrocket your open rate and click-through rate.

Track Your Results

Using a contact management system such as GetResponse or Aweber gives you detailed statistics on how many people open your emails, how many were undeliverable, and other useful marketing information that can give you feedback regarding your effectiveness.  If you are not already using this type of program, it is well worth the small cost.

Email marketing is far from dead, but if you want to avoid the graveyard and the delete button, make sure you examine your current practice and make changes as needed.