Don’t Just Ho-Ho-Hope Your Emails Get Opened: 3 Tips for Click-Worthy Communications This Holiday Season
This time of year, everything is at a premium—especially time.
Consumers are doing a cost-benefit analysis on a minute-by-minute basis—even if they don't know it. They're weighing the pros and cons of making one last trip to the mall, despite the traffic. They're debating whether to pay the extra shipping costs to make sure that one last package arrives in time for the big day. They're even gauging the benefits of opening all those emails cluttering their inbox.
This presents a major challenge to marketers: How do you create a click-worthy message that gets opened during these critical last two weeks of the year?
In a typical inbox, people only have three pieces of information to consider when deciding whether or not to open an email: "From" name, subject line and preheader text. That's not much. And during the busy holiday season when people have less time, shrinking attention spans and itchy delete fingers, it's crucial that you get it right.
1. Go With a "From" Name They Know and Trust
What's the quickest way to get someone to ignore or outright delete your email? Make the "from" name something they don't recognize. The sender's name is the first thing people see when browsing their unread mail, so it's the first test your email has to pass on its way to Open Land.
Most brands simply use the name of the organization. Or, if you want to add a personal touch, select a person at your organization to pair with your company name. For example, Emma's newsletter comes from our Director of Content Emily Konouchi—but we also include the Emma brand name so our subscribers don't wonder, "Who is this Emily Konouchi, and why is she emailing me? Delete."
In short, don't overthink it. You want subscribers to know exactly where, and who, the email is coming from.
2. Forget About the Formula for the Perfect Subject Line
There isn't one. (Trust me: We've checked.) Every audience is different, so experiment and split-test different messaging to find out what resonates most with your subscribers. With that said, here are a few pointers:
- Make it short and sweet. There are two numbers to keep in mind. The first is 32: the number of characters iPhones allow before cutting off the subject line. Another important number is 50: Exceeding 50 characters can sometimes lead to your email ending up in the dreaded spam folder. If you have more to say, continue your thought in the preheader text.
- Be clear, but compelling. Busy subscribers are only scanning their inboxes, so don't get too clever with your subject line. It might be hilarious, but you run the risk of them missing the joke—and skipping your message altogether. Instead, provide a clear and specific preview of the content they can expect to see when they open. By all means, be creative, but don't bury the lead. Use the subject line to tease the content so that your audience can't resist clicking and opening.
- Find inspiration in your own inbox. Southern lifestyle magazine and Emma customer Garden & Gun recently sent a mailing with the subject line "A Mississippi Roadside Marvel." This subject line is great because it says you're going to see something awesome, but it doesn't give away all the goods. It forces you to open to see for yourself. (And in case you're wondering, it worked. The mailing went to 60,000 contacts, and the open rate was nearly 40 percent!)
3. Don't Skip the Preheader Text
Preheader text is another opportunity to catch the eye of someone scanning their inbox. And the nice thing about it is that it allows you to add content without extending the subject line beyond the cutoff point.
You can use the preheader to tease the content of your mailing, provide a strong call to action or include a personalized greeting. The allowable length varies by email client, but we recommend keeping it under 75 characters to be safe. And just like subject lines, test out different language to see what works. It just might take your open rate over the top.
The big takeaway: Simple is better. People are bombarded with emails this time of year, so be transparent about where the email is coming from and the content it contains. It's the best (and quickest) way to ensure a click-worthy message this holiday season.