Email marketing: thoughts on getting people to open your emails and permission

The title of this post might seem a bit silly but with an increasing amount of emails sent, ever more email clients (remember Facebook’s plans), the need to focus on relevant content to avoid unsubscribes (and get your emails delivered) and lots of email clients blocking images, it is certainly a topic email marketers are concerned with.

On top of that, with the changing policies of ISPs regarding deliverability (where content, interaction and open rates become increasingly important), you can’t talk about it enough.

Many emails from businesses, even highly targeted marketing emails, do not even get opened. They get binned, marked as spam (often unnecessarily), or archived right from the get-go, and never see the light of day.

Many recipients just do not have the time to browse through all their emails and there are other interaction channels, remember.

So I thought it might be a good idea to try to start a series of posts with lots of answers to a basic, yet crucial and often challenging, question: ‘how do I get my emails opened’.

Here is the first one.

Let me start with some basics and let’s pump up the volume as we go. I will not tackle email deliverability in this post, talked about it often before.

However, it’s obvious that in order to get people opening and scanning your emails, your emails have to reach the inbox first.

Let me start with something I have been saying earlier: the days of broadcasting are over, we should look at email marketing as a dialogue between people: us, the marketers and businesses, and the recipients, those real people behind the email addresses in our lists.

You have to earn permission every day

Think recipient-centric and always keep your subscribers in mind. It’s the absolute rule number one.

Before you start marketing, promoting, selling and what not: first establish a connection and a relationship with your recipients.

Just like you are more likely to trust a good friend when offered a cheap price on a car, you’re much more likely to believe a marketer that has connected with you in the past and built a two-way relationship.

In the end that’s what Seth Godin called “permission marketing,” and it is certainly an accurate term.

Give your subscribers reasons to open your emails such as favors, a two-way bond, or merely shared value before you start working on the details like providing good content, offering catchy subject lines and so on.

Permission is not just “I give you my email address”, it’s “I might trust you, here are my data, now, what do I get in return because I want to get value out of this relationship”?

Permission is not a one-time thing, you have to earn it every day by treating your recipients properly.

Stay tuned for more.

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