The Secret Factor to Getting Your Emails Opened (No, it’s not the Subject Line)

Here’s a something that not many marketers know about. The most important thing that gets your email opened in the long term, is not the subject line. Don’t get me wrong though. Subject lines are still important for sure.

After all, a good subject line will definitely lead to a higher open rate.

But in the long term, the subject line is not the key factor that will get your email opened consistently. Want to know what will?

The thing that will get your emails opened consistently is the sender’s name. Yes, that’s right. The sender’s name is the most important factor in getting your emails opened. Don’t believe me?

Well, think about the emails that you always open. Chances are it’s not because of the subject line. It’s because you saw the sender’s name! You knew that you would get useful information in the email when you saw the sender’s name. That’s why you opened it.

Here’s the fact: Effective email marketing is all about building relationships.

Email subject lines matter more at the start of a relationship (when your prospects just started receiving emails from you), then later into the relationship (if you know what you’re doing from the start).

If you establish a relationship with your prospects when they first sign up to your email list and maintain that relationship, then email subject lines become less important.

The only thing that makes them open your email is YOUR NAME, because they know, like, and trust you. So the goal for all businesses is to achieve this level of relationship with their emails. You want to make people open your emails when they see your name. How do you do that?

There are 2 principles you need to follow:

  1. Email regularly
  2. Provide valuable and interesting content, not just straight product pitches.

1. Email Regularly

This first principle is to email regularly. Now, there is no fixed rule to what “regularly” means, but I would suggest emailing at least 3-4 times a month.

Here’s why.

Unless you already have a brand, if you don’t email regularly, your subscribers will forget about you. Many companies email only when they a promotion to announce or when they have something important to say. This could be anywhere from once in 2 months or 3 months or more.

So stupid.

Imagine signing up for a newsletter and not receiving any emails from that newsletter for 3 months. Then suddenly, you receive an email that sells you something.

Don’t you think your natural reaction would be, “Who is this? A spammer?” Even if you remembered you signed up for that newsletter, what are you chances of buying from that email?

There’s no relationship and no trust. By emailing regularly (assuming you provide useful and interesting content, which we will cover later), you’re constantly reminding people to take note of you worth taking note of, and building a relationship in the process.

But it doesn’t end there. There’s actually another reason to email regularly. The other reason to email regularly is that it causes unsubscribes.

“What? Unsubscribes is good? Are you crazy?”

No I’m not, dear reader. Getting some unsubscribes is good. And don’t you ever call me crazy. (Well, sometimes I am, but always in a good way.) Anyway, getting unsubscribes is good because the people who unsubscribe after constantly reading your emails (or not) are the people who are not your ideal prospects.

Assuming you already provide good content, you don’t want people who are not interested in what you have to say, lingering on your email list. Let the uninterested go. They won’t buy from you.

You save money with your email service provider, and you build a more responsive email list overall. A contrarian tip, I will admit. But very good for your bottom line.

2. Provide valuable and interesting content, not just straight product pitches

The second principle is to provide valuable and interesting content, not just straight sales pitches.

Remember, the aim here is to get prospects to consistently open your emails. You can only do that by providing value to the prospect.

Now think to yourself – do you think your prospect will continuously open your emails if he knows that every email contains some hyped up pitch about a product? If every email you send out are straight product pitches, I guarantee you’ll lose customers.

Your prospects didn’t sign up to your email list to be bombarded with product pitches. They signed up to receive value. You have to deliver some form of value in your emails.

Now, value comes in many forms. Practical and actionable content can be valuable, humorous content can be valuable, an insight you learned from your life can be valuable. The point is that you have to bring some value table, or else there would be no reason for the subscriber to stay.

Think about it – why would you stay on an email list that provides you with nothing but useless or common information? And it doesn’t end there.

Your emails not only have to provide value, but also have to be interesting too. If your emails are boring, you will lose the subscriber, and this time it’s not because they are not your ideal prospect.

It’s because your emails boring. It doesn’t matter if you have something valuable to share. If they are boring, you will lose their attention, and thus potential sales. Never ever be boring. Write interesting content. Now before you think, “Aww! Why are you so scared of selling?

You need to grow a pair maybe.”

I want to clarify: I’m not saying don’t sell in your emails. You must sell. That’s how you make money. There’s nothing wrong with sending out straight sales-pitches.

You just can’t do it all the time.

Your prospects or customers will get tired of it. Eventually, they might even grow immune to it. The solution? Wrap your sales pitch around useful content or interesting stories.

Here’s an example of an email I wrote for a client that pulled in a few sales right off the bat: See how that works? I didn’t just straight sell. I provided some value, and then linked to the sale.

This type of emails works great because the reader doesn’t see the email as a sales pitch. His sales resistance is lowered, and as a result are more inclined to buy.

And here’s the thing. You don’t have to sell in every email! You can mix your emails up by providing free, valuable and interesting content on some days, and sell on the other days.

This creates unpredictability, and makes your customers look forward to your emails. However, I would not consider being unpredictable as a “principle” because I’ve seen marketers do well by selling in every email they send. But one thing’s for sure – in every email in which they sell, they don’t just straight out pitch their product.

They provide valuable and interesting content and link it to the sale, which is the principle we’re talking about now. So! If you follow these 2 principles, the chances of getting your emails opened regularly are higher.

You might even get away with a bad subject line or two. But you didn’t think I’d end here did you? No no, my reader, I shall over deliver, as always. I have another bonus tip I’d like to share to help you establish a relationship with your prospects more effectively right from the start.

Many of you should already know about this, but I’d still like to share it and tell you how I think it should be done.

3. Bonus Tip

Depending on the business you’re in, one thing you can do to increase the chances of building a relationship from the start is set up an autoresponder email sequence that your prospect receives daily when he first signs up to your email list. Why daily?

Because when your prospect first gets in your email list, he doesn’t know you. You want to constantly remind him that you’re there and that you’re worth taking note of. You want to set the stage for him to open your emails regularly.

“But won’t I be sending too many emails? I don’t want to seem like a pest you know!” You won’t.

Not if you follow the second principle of sending out valuable and interesting content. When you write your email sequence, think of the core content – the things that you want to educate your prospects on, tell him about your brand, and demonstrate that you’re an trustworthy business in the market.

Think of how you can “wow” him from the start and win his trust right away, while being interesting at the same time. This will serve as the foundation to build a relationship with your prospect at the start.

I suggest setting up an autoresponder email sequence of 7 to 10 emails (or more), delivered everyday. (In case you’re wondering which email marketing software I recommend for this, I recommend Aweber and GetResponse. They are the only two I’ve ever used and both are excellent.)

The bottom line: Build that relationship with your email list from the start and maintain it over time. Capture their attention from the start, then provide good and interesting content consistently.

Don’t just email your subscribers when you want to pitch your product or announce a promotion. Subject lines are still important, especially when a prospect is new to your newsletter.

But more importantly, subject lines can increase your open rate (although open rate is not the important metric to measure). But the more important thing to do is build a relationship. You do that by emailing regularly and sharing valuable and interesting content.

Soon, you’ll find that people open your emails not because of the subject line anymore, but because they treat you as their guide, their leader, and sometimes even their friend.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our digital marketing consultants today!

Shane Yuen
Co-Founder, Managing Director
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