By Zvi Band
According to Talos, a research division of Cisco, spam emails account for 86% of the world’s email traffic. While leading email providers manage to filter out the lion’s share, modern consumers are quick to click delete on anything else that looks fishy.
This places businesses in a difficult situation. Email remains one of the most effective means of communicating with existing and potential clients but to share their information, they have to get clients to open messages first. 99% of the time, the trick lies in the subject line – one simple sentence which gets straight to the point and draws the client in.
The experts in this field are journalists, the gatekeepers to news publications who receive hundreds of pitch emails every day. They’re known to be prickly when it comes to pitch emails
so, smart businesses and PR teams are extremely careful in the wording, and format of pitch emails they send, knowing that one slip up could send their amazing piece of news straight to the trash.
To avoid your email automatically added to the trash, there are four easy tricks to help you connect with clients and prospects which generally work in getting journalists’ attention:
Get to the point
Journalists and editors receive hundreds of pitches, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to open and reply to all of them. Consequently, any emails that break any ‘pitch etiquette’ rules, or seem spammy will be deleted on sight. Journalists are oblivious to fluff and flair, and there is no better way to turn them off than by filling your subject line with superlatives and exaggerations.
Rather than wasting your time writing about your “AMAZING, revolutionary new product you need to see!”, give them exactly the information they need in a clear, professional manner.
The same goes for communication with existing or potential customers, based on reports from a recent survey 47% of recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.
When you write an email, it is important to think about how the consumer will view it on their computer or more importantly, their smartphone screen. Use the ‘From’ line to let them know WHO is contacting them with the company name rather than your individual name which they might not recognize.
There is an art to crafting an efficient subject line, as ideally it should consist of 50 characters or fewer. The general rule to be followed is that subject lines should be appropriately personalized, explain clearly and concisely what to expect from the email and why it is important for them to read it.
Timing is key
Journalists tend to work through their email backlog on a daily basis, and many start from the last and work through to the first. Consequently it is better to send messages early in the morning from Monday to Friday, so your message has a better chance of being read when they are fresh, before the daily email overload. In addition, it’s best not to send emails late on a Friday, or the day before vacation days, as they will just be swamped by other emails, and will probably go ignored.
Timing is also essential when sending messages to customers. There is no better way to get your email deleted than by waking up consumers with alerts on their phone at night with a promotional message. You want your message to reach a consumer when they have the time to complete the action you want them to do, such as browse your offers, sign up for a newsletter or buy a new product. 3am is not the time for that.
The best time depends on your target consumer group, but generally research shows that the most effective time to send emails is between 6am and 12pm.
Choose your words correctly
It should go without saying, but it is essential to copy-check your emails before you send it off to anyone. Take journalists for example; they work a profession who earn their bread and butter through eloquent use of language and so are very unlikely to be forgiving of spelling or grammatical errors.
But grammar is not your only concern, consumers are bloodhounds for spam and mass-sent emails. There are some words which are more likely to get picked up by anti-spam tools, like FREE or DEALS, but there are other terms, like HELP, % OFF, and REMINDER, which can negatively affect your open rate too. Other ‘call to action’ terms like DONATE, or ASSISTANCE also turn off readers.
A constant flow of sales and promotional emails is draining, so try to grab the reader’s attention with the VALUE you can offer them, rather than the deal itself. Try to avoid using ‘flashy’ promotional catchphrases, CAPITAL LETTERS, and exclamation points which scream ‘promotional’.
Choose your tone carefully
The general rule when sending ‘exclusive’ messages to journalists, is to include their name in the subject line to let them know you have a story which best suits their ‘beat’. For example, “ Exclusive for Peter, XXX launches new Fintech tool for Millennials which can save $XXX per year.”
However research shows that for general consumers, that personalizing emails to include a recipient’s name doesn’t improve the client open rate significantly. If the recipient sees in the ‘from’ line, that the message is from KFC, they are unlikely to think that it is a personal message penned by the colonel himself.
It is important to use an informal but polite tone. Your subject line should add a personal touch, like ‘Hey’, but don’t overdo it. ‘Hey dude,” or “whatsuuup!” makes it sound like the message is from a local fraternity not a serious business.
Also, don’t be tempted to trick the recipient into thinking the email is from an existing personal or professional contact by adding a FWD or RE to the subject line, as experience shows that readers associate these with deception, and spam.
Creating the perfect subject line for your email can make the difference between an important message being opened, or deleted at the click of a finger, which is especially easy in the age of smartphones. That split second decision could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost revenue, so take the extra time to formulate clear, and concise subject lines that speak to consumers in a language they understand.