People Aren’t Reading Your Email – Here’s Why

Whether you have a marketing e-blast, an e-newsletter, or a pitch to a potential investor, emails are a big deal when it comes to marketing and creating a compelling email is a make-or-break skill. The problem is that smart marketing and publicity professionals make mistakes – and sometimes these mistakes discourage recipients from opening their emails.

You have only a couple of seconds to catch someone’s eye with your email marketing efforts. And if you have any of these five issues with your email campaign, your efforts are going straight to the trash folder. Before you hit the send button, make sure that you have done all that you possibly can to ensure that your message will be not only opened, but read.

The Subject Line Stinks

Subject Lines are the place that tells your reader (or non-reader) what the email is all about. If your subject line isn’t compelling, why would they open it? There’s a few ways to create a compelling email subject line, such as considering the different formats.

Laptops, Desktops, Tablets, Smartphones, and Smart Watches are some of the ways people check their emails, but guess what, each one has different characters that show the subject line. Your Outlook or Apple Mail on your desktop will show many more characters for your subject line than a smart phone or watch. How can you beat this? Put the most important piece of your email subject line first.

Another way that people get annoyed is because you’re deceptive in your subject line. If you have “Quick Question” or “Your Opinion Matters” but you’ve never corresponded or spoken to the potential reader, it’s very unlikely that they will open your email, let alone read it. Which leads us to my next point…

There’s No Personal Connection

Occasionally we will receive emails from total strangers, like the Nigerian Prince that needs our help retrieving a large sum of money, but for the most part our emails come from people and companies we know or have opted into. If you have spoken to this person, they have reached out to you, or you’ve been following their blog or press accounts, you have a personal connection. If you have this connection, be sure to mention it early on in your subject line such as “Met At [Event]” or “Referred by [Person].”

There’s No Curiosity

If your subject line incites curiosity, it will compel readers to click your email open and read it. If your subject line has something that everyone already knows, why would they click on your email? There are a few subject line strategies that have worked for people, including: The question, the how-to, the scarcity, the announcement, the number, the surprise, the personalized and the curiosity gap subject line. So what is the curiosity gap? It’s the gap between what we know and what we want to know. An example of this could be “9 out of 10 American’s can’t get this answer,” or “This basic question stumped the smartest politicians.” Anything that conveys some initial knowledge and a small curiosity.

You’re Using Spam Words

Spam is unsolicited, irrelevant email, sent in bulk to a list of people. Your email may be relevant, but if one person selects your email as spam, it can have a negative impact on your deliverability rates. So what should you avoid to keep your emails out of the Spam folder? Stay away from attention-grabbing words such as “Amazing Stuff,” or “Dig up Dirt on Friends.” Using too many capital letters or exclamation points can also be considered “spammy.”

Copying and Pasting content from a word document adds code to the email which could cause it to be routed to the Spam folder as well as not having a text-only version of your message. Be sure that your email list is up-to-date with no bad email addresses and include no bad links or link-shortners. And always, always, always include an unsubscribe link as it is the law.

Your Timing Is Off

No one actually sits at their desk and reads their emails at all these days. The reality is that most people start their workday grabbing their coffee or on their commute. Most people start and end their day by emailing in bed. With that being said, is there really a universally perfect time for you to send your email? No. But there is a perfect time for your specific email to your recipients. The best way to find this time is through experimentation. Think about who your receivers are, what they do for work, what their lifestyle may be. The best way to test is to send out at different times of the day and adjust your strategy accordingly for your next email campaign. Timing is everything as to whether or not your email is opened and read – so don’t just ignore it.


You can never guarantee that every recipient is going to open and read your email campaign, but you can do everything possible to make it more appealing for them. By paying attention to your subject line, making your email personable, creating a curiosity through your subject line, staying away from things that may get you into the spam folder, and focusing on your timing for delivery, you can ensure yourself that you have done all you could to create the best email possible for your potential readers.

Read our previous blog on Getting the most out of Twitter.

Why You Should Be Using an Autoresponder

We are of the era where we want instant gratification. You want an answer? Don’t discuss it with your friends, type it into Google. Are you hungry? Pop in those pre-cooked meals in the microwave or hop into the nearest drive-through. Our need for instant gratification transfers over to the online marketing realm. On average, people won’t wait more than 7 seconds for a website to load. That means businesses have one chance, a 7 second chance, to gain customer interest before it’s on to the next business… Usually a competitor. It’s gotten so serious; people have been known to call 911 when Facebook is down.

So to market properly in the time of “I want it, and I want it now”, we look to options that can fulfill this desire. Cue autoresponders.  Everyone in the business world uses them when you are away from the office, and in marketing it is no different. An autoresponder allows you to acknowledge the customer or prospect’s presence and begin developing that relationship that is needed. I’m not talking about just one automated message saying “thanks for the inquiry” or “We are happy to add you to our mailing list”, those are no brainers. I’m talking about making an ongoing marketing campaign that is triggered with an action. Here’s why:


1. It saves you time in the long run.

I’m not going to lie to you; an autoresponder marketing campaign is time intensive to set up. However, once it’s set up, it takes little effort to maintain.  Instead of spending time weekly (or daily) to decide what content to send to people it can be set up ahead of time and sent appropriately when triggered by an action. Every time a new visitor shows interest the campaign automatically begins for them and takes them through the marketing messages. The responsibility is no longer on a single person (or team of people) that may be extra busy one day and not have the time to begin the campaign manually. Remember, 7 second attention span.


2. It makes sure recipients are getting the information they want, when they want it.

Autoresponder marketing campaigns can be as complicated as you want them. Generally the more complex and tailored the campaign is, the better the results.

A simple campaign may look something like: An interested prospect signs up for your email list that promises to send industry information, blog post and special offers. Your autoresponder campaign sends them a welcome email and then will send them pre-determined, static content (that all email list recipients receive) once a week until the end of time.

A complicated campaign looks something like this: An interest prospect signs up for your email list that promises to send industry information, blog post and special offers. Your autoresponder campaign sends them a welcome email and then sends them a post of recent blog topics. They open the email, and click on an article about social media marketing. This triggers an email that will be sent two days later that offers more information about social media trends. The recipient does not open that email, so they are placed back on the segment to receive random blog entries one week at a time.


3. It engages your audience.

You want your brand to be top of mind with consumers, and that’s not always the case. It’s unrealistic to think that you will have the time to engage your customers every time you should in an effort to drive business. And we all know the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”.  Autoresponders prevent this lag in communication from happening. You communicate with your customers while becoming a consultant. I recommend only sending one sales message per five emails. When you are regularly engaging with your consumers, not every message needs to be about you.


Autoresponders are a great way to easy some of the marketing burden off of the team, when there is already a lot to do. Be sure to take advantage of these whenever possible in addition to your other email marketing techniques!

Do you use autoresponders in your marketing arsenal? We want to hear your stories!

How to Personalize Your Marketing

So last week a few of our team members spent the week in New York City for the Advertising Specialty Institute trade show as exhibitors. Our booth showcased wrapping paper that can be branded with anything you could imagine, photos, logos, even individual names. Our blog discussed some great ideas for personalized promotional gifts and we saw many of those things (and more!) at the trade show. So it begs the question… Is branded wrapping paper, mugs, shoes or lollipops enough? Of course not.

It’s no longer a question if a company’s marketing efforts are going to be tailored to the recipient, from those great gifts to a company’s direct mail campaign… It’s all going to feature a form of personalization. We’ve come to expect it. I challenge you to look at the next ten emails or direct mail pieces you receive. Do they mostly feature your name? I bet they do. In fact, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, 81% of consumers say they receive more marketing materials that include their name than they did five years ago. Likewise, if you look in your cupboard or on your desk, there is probably at least one branded coffee mug or pen.

With the advances in technology, such as variable data printing or automated emails, it’s no longer a chore to place an individual’s name on something. Most companies make this a staple in their marketing efforts. So how do we take this to the next level?


1. Make suggestions.

As companies, we collect information about a customer without even realizing it. We see what they buy, when they buy it, and if you are an eCommerce store, when they are looking at it and how many times. This data can all be measured and used to properly reach out to these customers with recommendations or coupons for a specific item. Customers are 56% more likely to return to an online store if the store recommends products.


2. Capitalize on add on services.

The car industry is a great example of this. Advances in variable data printing have significantly decreased the cost of being able to tailor each direct mail piece to a specific customer. If you purchase from a dealership, you may start receiving regular correspondent postcards featuring a picture of your exact make and model car as well as the service that needs to be rendered on it. If I am a Honda Civic driver, I don’t want a postcard with a Honda Ridgeline on it, simple as that.


3. Interact on the customer’s terms.

Personalization does not necessarily only revolve around printing or placing the correct variables. It’s also tailoring marketing efforts. You may start off a target market with a defined communication channel, such as direct mail, but later learn some individuals prefer email. Switching up your communication channel to fit the needs and wants of the client further cements your brand in the minds of the consumer.

Check out our last blog on 5 cool promotional products.

These are only a few examples of how to capitalize on one-on-one marketing. How does your business handle personalization of marketing?


Happy Marketing!

5 Strategies to Drastically Improve your Email Marketing Campaigns: Part 2

Second part of ten important strategies and tactics that can instantly, and more often than not, drastically improve your email marketing results.


Our first part of this series can be found here: This article will cover remaining advice on how to improve email campaigns. Have stories on how these strategies work for you or ones we missed? We want to hear from you! 

1. Detailed Analytics

The only way to optimize your email campaigns is to know what has and hasn’t worked in the past. The only way to know what has and hasn’t worked in the past is to measure! Most email services make measuring response a very simple task. Go beyond open rates, bounce rates, click through rates, etc. – these are the bare minimum and while helpful, don’t provide the full picture. Here’s a scary stat – 61% of B2B marketing professionals judge a successful email campaign by open rates alone. Yikes! You also need to be measuring who acted (segments), when they converted, how they converted and  of course, what made them convert. A mixture of multiple data sources are often needed in order to fully answer these questions. Make sure all links include tracking URLs, and that you are measuring what happens post-click through.


2. Get to the Point

Email marketing works best when you have a clear goal in mind for your messaging, Try to stick to one (two max) goal and position the rest of your copy and imagery around that main call to action. Provide simple answers to clear questions. How much does it cost? How do I purchase? How long does the promotion run? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and provide only the necessary messaging needed to inspire action. Too much copy and you’ll bore your audience, too little and you’ll lose trust.


3. Retargeting

Retargeting is a relatively new tool that marketers in all industries have welcomed whole-heartedly. While there are numerous retargeting vendors out there, most retargeting campaigns can be run directly through the Google Adwords “remarketing” feature. Retargeting works by placing a cookie on a visitor’s computer after an action is taken (visited page, opened email, etc.) and allows you to target these specific groups with display advertisements throughout popular ad networks. There are three main types of email retargeting – targeting visitors who click through your email and land on your site, targeting visitors who opened your email and targeting visitors based on email address alone. We will be covering retargeting in more depth in a later blog post, so if you have additional questions stay tuned.


4. Encourage Response

Don’t be afraid to ask for response! Customers are used to the concept – 7 out of 10 survey responders say they have made use of a coupon or discount they received by email…within the last week! Make sure your audience knows why they should act, what’s in it for them and how/when to respond. Responses can vary – from sharing your content, purchasing a product, signing up for a webinar or something totally different – it doesn’t matter as long as you make the desired action clear and easy to accomplish. You’d be amazed by how many clients we’ve seen ignore this simple tactic.


5. Get Creative!

Like other forms of marketing, email marketing works best when creativity is applied. While covering your bases and following best practices is important, standing out from the crowd is also encouraged to make sure your messages are not only delivered, but noticed and acted upon. Some examples of creativity in email marketing include symbols in subject lines (popular examples include – ♥ ★ ☼ ♫ ☀ ✿ ☆ ♡ ⇒ ☺ ❤ ✈ ✞ → ☂) as well as dynamic imagery (think countdown timers for an email promoting a sale event).  Studies have shown something as simple as adding a symbol to an email subject line can increase response rates by 10-15%! This proves how important creativity can be to the success of your email marketing efforts.


This recaps ten important strategies and tactics that can instantly, and more often than not, drastically improve your email marketing results.

Until next time…happy marketing.

5 Strategies to Drastically Improve your Email Marketing Campaigns: Part 1

Are your email marketing campaigns under-performing? Whether your core focus is ecommerce, software as a service (SaaS) or online lead generation, email marketing has become an incredibly effective and necessary tactic to include in your marketing mix.


Are your email marketing campaigns under-performing? Whether your core focus is ecommerce, software as a service or online lead generation, email marketing has become an incredibly effective and necessary tactic to include in your marketing mix. One stat that proves this – for every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. That ROI is too hard to ignore. With that in mind, in part one of this two part series we will review some of the most important factors to ensure your email campaigns are optimized and delivering the results they should be.


1. Responsive Emails

So you’ve heard of responsive websites, but why would you ever need responsive emails? Well for starters, an incredible 66% of Gmail opens occur on mobile devices. That number is only going to increase as more and more consumers embrace the mobile revolution. It simply doesn’t make sense sending a static email that doesn’t display properly on all screen sizes. There are a number of responsive email templates available online for those who don’t have an in-house designer/developer. Additionally, more and more email service providers (Mail Chimp for example) are offering a growing number of responsive email templates that can be customized to your specifications. So there’s really no excuse not to have a mobile-friendly email!


2. Optimize Deliverability

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s rather difficult to execute a successful email marketing campaign if a significant portion of your customer list never receives the email. Make sure your email body and subject line limit the use of keywords that can trigger spam filters – free, limited time, etc. are all often found in SPAM. You can search online for other examples. Remember to keep a high text to image ratio and include all contact and opt-out information. Always add image alts and plain text version of your email as well. Don’t forget to setup your MX record, as this will verify your sending IP address and improve deliverability. Lastly, make sure to monitor your bounce, unsubscribe and complaint rates. These will all have a negative impact on your sender score/reputation (which should be checked regularly) and deliverability.


3. A/B Testing

The easiest way to guarantee that your email campaigns get progressively better is to test every time! It’s no surprise that email subject lines are the most common elements to test – 33% of email opens are based on subject lines alone. From names, delivery times, imagery, layouts and more are all important as well. Just make sure you aren’t testing too many things at once, otherwise you will skew your data and won’t be able to accurately interpret the results.


4. Segmentation and Personalization

Not only knowing your audience, but also speaking directly to that audience is the key to achieving success in email marketing. Break your mailing lists down into different groups/segments of contacts with similar attributes. These attributes could be demographic related (age and sex), geographic or activity related (what they purchased). Once your list is segmented, try personalizing your copy and messaging to better suit the needs of each segment. An example would be an ecommerce site showing examples of product that were recently viewed by that customer, or popular products with other customers in that segment. For B2B it may be focusing on the benefits of your product or service as they relate to that customer’s position (marketing, sales, financial, etc.) or industry. The more relevant your communications are, the more your campaigns will achieve.


5. Timing

We’ve all heard the saying, “timing is everything”, and with email marketing it is no different. On average, part of knowing your audience is knowing the right days of the week and times of the day that your audience will be most receptive to your messaging. There are numerous studies published online claiming X hour on X day is the best time to send an email, and that simply isn’t true. It always varies by audience, and the only way to truly know is to test. Keep in mind, timing is relative to what your main goal is. Make sure you measure and optimize timing by a number of data points including: open rates, click through rates and most importantly, conversion rates.


Stay tuned until for the next part of the series! Have guess what we might be discussing or your own strategies? Share below!