I just deleted an email without reading it (like you do). The subject line was “Not your typical Monday email.” I deleted it because I knew without a doubt that it would definitely be a typical email. (I just fished it out of the trash. It was a sales offer. Pretty typical. No?)
I’m told by so many people that email marketing is dead or that they have low open rates or that no one cares about email any more. I’m also told that no one reads email any more.
None of this is true. But there’s a massive catch. You have to actually earn your place in the inbox.
Earn Your Place in the Inbox
What gets someone to open your mail?
First, we have to discount the types of mail you really want to receive. If you LOVE fly fishing and “Fly Fishing Weekly” shows up in the inbox, of course you’ll open it. We can’t talk much about that. There’s no lesson learned by trying to copy something beloved.
But what makes you choose to open those letters that aren’t your top passion?
To earn your place in the inbox, your efforts have to touch on at least a few of these important details and points:
A Great Subject Line Helps
I subscribe to the Lefsetz letter about the music industry and culture in general. What makes me open his emails? The subject line. We are a world of browsing-swipe-right-Netflix people now. If the subject line doesn’t catch us, who’s going to open the letter?
The key to a great subject line is the act of promising something of value will be contained within. OR, if you’re clever and tricky, sometimes a clever subject line will get people in. Here are a few samples of recent subject lines I’ve sent out:
- Connectivity Drives Repeat Business
- The Simple Mechanism of Marketing
- What I Told the Rockstar
- What to Do When Everything Sucks
- People Want a Guide
None of the subject lines are especially amazing. They’re all kind of “working class.” That’s an aesthetic I really love and push here. You’re welcome to be a bit more fabulous if you want. But the point is the same. Make sure the subject line earns your way in. Boring subject lines equal easy deletes.
What comes next?
Teach me Something
Whether or not you’re selling something, make sure you teach me something. I asked my fiance Jac what makes her choose which newsletters to open and read and she had three main points: newsletters that give her steps to follow, useful takeaways, or some deep research. Those are her top three reasons to read a newsletter. This makes sense when you see the quality of her Maria & Jane newsletter, covering women in the cannabis business world.
Education in a newsletter is a powerful tool.
Make It Human
For years and years, this has been my battle cry. So many people write newsletters as if they’re sending out a web page. They heavily HTML format the newsletter so that it’s very graphically appealing, and there’s barely a touch of humanity in the letter itself. It feels written by slaves chained to desks in a sweatshop. Here’s a hint: if you hate sending it out, no one’s going to love receiving it.
The best way to make a newsletter human is to write as if you have something to tell to a person who matters a great deal to you. Write the letter to be helpful, informative, and dare I risk it, entertaining.
It’s amazing how many newsletters and emails are sent with not much of a sense of what you want the reader to do afterwards. They’ve read the letter. Now what? For my personal newsletter, I just invite people to hit reply. Unless I’m selling something. Then I invite them to click the purchase link OR hit reply.
But letters that end quickly, abruptly, and with no sense of a next step are a wasted opportunity. Give people a chance to go further with you. It makes a world of difference.
Summary: Earn Your Spot
The inbox is still a very powerful place to earn customers. Much better than any specific social media, that’s for sure. People still do go to their inbox. They do still open, click, reply and the like. But only if you make your work worth it to them. Hopefully this helps a bit.
(And if you want to sample my newsletter, sign up here and check out the process for yourself!)