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Making opening that email seem like a good deal

As we scan down the list of new arrivals in our email inbox, what decision are we making in each case? I’d argue that it’s simply: “Is it likely that the contents of this email are going to be worth me opening it and reading it?” Given how little effort is involved in opening and reading an email, it’s a sad indictment of the quality and relevance of many emails that we don’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

For me, the most important field is “From:”. If it’s an email from a customer, or an important colleague, or my mother, I’m straight in there without even looking at the subject line. It’s unlikely that any of our company names will generate that sort of ‘must read’ enthusiasm from our customers (although – if used very sparingly – an email from a named sales contact can be an interesting approach).

So it’s down to the good old subject line. How do we use this alone to make opening the email seem like a good bet? Of course, it needs to indicate contents which will be of benefit to the recipient. But this has to be done in a subservient way – nobody wants to think the sender is in charge here. Solving a problem is a tried and tested technique, but there are many other ways to pique interest.

If you’ve just written a subject line for a marketing email, sit back and ask yourself if you would open that email if it arrived in your inbox.