Don’t Get Deleted: 3 Tips To Help Engage Audiences With Email

Most people have tons of email in their inbox. Currently, I have 3,702 messages in my personal email. Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed. There are coupons, newsletters, reminders, event invitations, funny messages from friends and family, and so on. There’s a lot to comb through even without opening anything. But most of those emails will never see the light of day and will automatically end up in the trash folder. And that’s a marketing deathtrap, because if your audience isn’t opening your emails, it’s impossible for them to take action like visiting your website or making a purchase.

While I’ve clearly signed up for too many email alerts, there are certain ones I open more often and even look forward to. Why? Because:

1) the subject line tells me what I can expect and doesn’t make promises it can’t keep

2) the content offers value—whether it’s monetary or intellectual, it’s something I can’t resist, and

3) if I’m lucky, the content will entertain me.

Write a Compelling Subject Line

There’s an art to writing a good email subject line. It’s the most important part of the email as it can boost your email open rate. Mail Chimp, an online email marketing service, says the key is to keep it short, descriptive and give the reader a reason to explore the message. That means:

  • Keep your subject line under 50 characters.
  • Make it clear what’s in it for the readers. Tell them what’s inside; don’t sell them what’s inside.
  • Nearly 50% of emails are read on mobile phones, so put the most important words at the beginning because you can’t be sure how much of the subject line will be seen.
  • Avoid repetitive subject lines. If your readers see the same message every time, they’ll get bored and your email will be deleted repeatedly, followed by them unsubscribing.

Offer Value

If you knew that opening an email would offer the solution to something you desire to fix or know, you’d click it. Readers want the promise of whatever is in your subject line and you should deliver it. Entrepreneur Magazine says that there are a few primary ways to get readers to open emails on a regular basis:

Solve a Problem

Hubspot recently took a look at some of the best email marketing campaigns out there, including one from Warby Parker, which had a clever way of enticing customers to shop for glasses. With the subject line, “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring,” readers were reminded to renew their prescription and offered a link to conveniently pick out new glasses to go along with their new prescription. Now that’s smart.

Save Me Money

Everybody loves a good deal. What’s better than a good deal? A good deal that’s created just for you. Shopify thinks you should steal Banana Republic’s exclusivity email concept, which sends readers “an invitation to secret savings.” I do too. Personalizing the email with language like “a private perk for you” and highlighting its scarcity with reminders like “ends tomorrow,” gives readers a tingly feeling because they feel special and they’re saving cash.

Make Me Smarter (or at Least Feel Smarter)

“3 Vending Machines, 1 Nutritionist: What She Ate From Each.” That’s the subject line that I recently read from Women’s Health magazine’s e-newsletter. What happened next? I clicked, opened and visited the website. I had to know what a nutritionist knows. That email gave me the sense that I was going to be more informed and empowered to make smarter eating choices. Informed readers will not only look to your brand for tools to empower them, they’ll come to trust that there’s a purposeful message in your email.



When it comes to creating a fun email that people want to read, consider sharing information that complements what your business offers. For example, Nordstrom wanted customers to shop their site for spring trends, so an email blast titled “Spring Trends to Try Now” showcased some of their hottest merchandise, with each piece coupled to a style tip. Consider using behind-the-scenes images or videos, sneak peeks of an upcoming event, previews of future projects or offerings, polls or surveys, flaunt freebies and ask for user-generated content like submitted photos for a contest.


In April, the Campaign Monitor interviewed Dan Oshinsky, director of newsletters at BuzzFeed, about their email marketing. He said the most effective email-marketing tactic they have is focusing on making their email content really great. And it really is that simple: By focusing on making each email that you send compelling, you’ll keep your readers engaged and happy, and in turn they’ll not only read, trust and share your content, they’ll look forward to seeing it in their inbox.

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