7 ways to make sure your email gets read - and acted on

An increasing number of businesses and freelancers rely on email marketing to generate leads. But how do you make sure that your email gets read?

It is likely that your unsolicited message will be competing with hundreds of others in the inbox of your recipient. So we have compiled a list of top tips to help make sure that your email stands out from the crowd.

1. Write a great subject line

The subject line is perhaps the single most important factor in determining whether or not your message is read.

There is an art to writing a great subject line. It is extraordinary how many people do not use a subject line at all. This is a fatal mistake that will frequently mean your email is deleted without having been seen – so you should make sure you use this important field.

Subject lines are like headlines. They need to grab the reader’s interest. In order to do this, you need to think about their needs. Your subject line should explain why the email is useful to the recipient, why it is relevant to them, and why they need to look at it right this minute. Don’t talk about yourself – talk about them.

2. Avoid ‘red flag’ phrases

Spam filters, while a godsend for recipients, are a perpetual problem for those who send unsolicited email. Unsolicited email isn’t necessarily spam, but automated filters often treat it as such. You need to learn how to avoid being caught by those filters.

There is a range of ‘red flag’ phrases that will, if contained in your email, often mean that it heads straight for the spam folder. These phrases change all the time, but include things like ‘lottery’, ‘pharmacy’, ‘guarantee’ and (somewhat annoyingly) ‘urgent’.

If you are sending unsolicited email it is vital that you avoid these phrases in order to maximise your chances of having your message reach a human recipient.

3. Frontload your messages

People are bombarded with hundreds of emails every day, and your potential clients have neither the time nor the inclination to read through each message in its entirety.

So, you need to frontload your messages. This means that you get the juicy, interest-grabbing bits in at the beginning. So, if you are offering a deal or something for free – tell them right at the start. Make sure that the recipient knows exactly what the purpose of the message is from the first paragraph. If they are interested, they will read on. If they’re not – then they were never going to reply anyway.

4. Request an action

Simply having a message read is normally not enough. Instead, you want to encourage an interaction. You might want the recipient to click on a link, or reply to the email. You need to make this explicit in the body of your message.

Whatever action you choose, you should make sure that you are encouraging the recipient to do something. If they are interested, and your proposition is exciting enough, they will respond to your call to action – and this is the first step towards making a sale.

5. Target recipients

Your choice of recipients is important. Why waste resources sending emails to people you know won’t be interested? This wastes your time and money – and, at worst, can mean that you are blacklisted for spamming by filters.

Of course, working out who to email can be difficult. Some firms choose to buy data sets from marketing companies, while others build up their own lists organically. However you choose to determine your recipients, you should be wary of looking like you are spamming. This is a significant danger for those engaging in email marketing, and can cripple your prospects of success.

6. DO NOT over-use CC

The CC function might be your friend in some cases – but in email marketing it is your sworn, mortal enemy. Do not use CC to send the same email to multiple recipients. I repeat: do not do it.

Instead, if you must send multiple emails at once, send the message to yourself and use the BCC function. This will obscure the other recipients’ addresses. Even better, send personalised emails one by one, or invest in mailing software that will do this for you.

7. Double-check before hitting send

Finally, make sure that you check and double-check your emails before sending. The worst crime? Getting the recipient’s name wrong. This makes your message look like it has been copied and pasted from your Sent folder (which might well be the case) – and is the quickest way to destroy trust in the eyes of the recipient.

Email marketing is a dark art. The key is to concentrate on the needs and interests of the recipient. Remember that you are entering their inbox unbidden – so you’d better give them a good reason to click on your message.

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