Increase Your Open Rates: Creating The Perfect Email

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Increase Your Open Rates: Creating The Perfect Email

Even with the introduction of GDPR, email marketing remains a powerful way to engage existing and potential customers.

In the UK alone, 84% of adults use the internet for email, making it the most popular online activity.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that competition is fierce. Hundreds, if not thousands of companies, big and small, are battling it out for a recipient’s attention on a daily basis.

We’re not going to show you how to win each battle. We’re going to show you how to win the war.

Follow these tried and tested methods and watch your email open and click through rates soar.

The Anatomy of an Email

Since its inception in 1969, email has become a hugely popular medium for communication.

Fast, secure, environmentally-friendly and extremely versatile, an estimated 200 billion emails are sent each day.

Despite claims that “it’s dead” or “on its way out”, there is no real evidence to support this theory. If anything, the stats that are available prove the contrary, that email usage is actually thriving.

For this guide, we’re going to break the email down into two main parts: the subject line and body.

Things like the “to”, “CC/BCC” and “from” inputs are completely irrelevant. As is the platform you use to send the email (GMAIL, Outlook etc). Generally though, I’d suggest personalising the email as much as humanly possible.

So, put solely their email in the “to” box, rather than the “CC/BCC” with hundreds more (you can get email marketing automation software has this capability). Also, in the “from” box, use a personal address (even if work) rather than a generic “info@...” account.  

The subject line is like the SEO of the email world. You have to think of a title that sets your email apart from all the rest.

This process is called “rubbernecking”. That’s right, the same thing that takes place following a car collision or accident.

Humans, by nature, are curious creatures. We are attracted to mystery, the unusual and the downright weird. You need to feed this. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so you need something truly special!

The body of an email is the actual message or wording.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need fancy images or a video for an email to work. A powerful plain text message will work just as well. It’s what you put in it that counts.

The Rubbernecking Effect

If the perfect subject line were a math equation, it would be:

[Competitor/Competition VS You/Your Company]

As simple as that!

You don’t even have to mention you or your company. The important thing here is that the “vs Competitor/Competition” aspect remains intact.

You need to use creative, engaging sentences that will villainize your competitor, and heroize you or your company.

Avoid using straightforward, boring titles such as “why my company is better than their company”. Instead, use more niche titles, or something that relates to your wider industry.

Here are some good examples:

“Don’t fall victim to the [Competitor/Competition] trap/scam”
“The real reason people are leaving [Competitor/Competition]”
“[Competitor/Competition] is losing you money and you don’t even realise it”
“Customers are looking to [You/Your Company] to correct issued caused by Competitor/Competition]”

The more creative you are, the better the rubbernecking effect.

Remember: basic email best practice rules still apply to the subject line. So check grammar, spelling and ensure that it’s a suitable length.

If you are using email marketing automation software, split your email contacts or mailing list into several groups and send the same email - but with different titles - to each. This is called A/B testing, and it will enable you to work out the combination that is most effective.

A Body That Delivers

So, you have a rubberneck-ready subject line, but need the content to go with it.

Even with a great title, you will instantly lose the recipient if the email message is boring or unimaginative. It also needs to have that human touch.

Email marketing campaigns with images and a video may look pretty, but the recipient can suss them a mile off, increasing the likelihood they won’t read it.

Similar to the subject line, if we had an equation for the perfect message, it would look something like this:

[Make it Personal] + [Empower The Recipient] + [Reinforce Your Ability/Authority] + [Add Curiosity] + [Create an Aura of Solidarity] + [Increase Exposure]

It seems like a lot, but it really isn’t. Let’s take a look at a live example:


You’re well aware that Pickle Plant LTD have recently unveiled a new production facility to be opened in Columbia.

My company and I, Pickles “R” Us, have been warning customers that this new facility will exploit local workers for over 12 months.

If you think things can’t get any worse, they just did. Check out this statement from the CEO yesterday (insert hyperlink).

We cannot allow this to go any further. We have a duty to stop these bad practices, as they have no place in modern business.

Please share with your friends, family and colleagues.

As with the subject line, this wording is not set in stone. You can mix and match as much as you like, as long as the parts of the equation are within the text.

This type of structure is influenced by something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP.

In NLP, the conscious mind is seen as the goal setter, and the unconscious mind, the goal getter. It’s basically a scientific way to get the recipient to read through and act on your email, without them even realising it.

Similar to the subject line, best practice still applies here. Make sure you have thoroughly checked grammar and spelling. Make sure any links are working.

Keeping the content short and sweet, is key here. Even with all the “NLP” in the world, a recipient will not stick with it if it’s too long. “Walls of text” as I call them, are a huge nope.

Imagine there’s the outline of a triangle or pyramid sitting just behind the body text. Flip this upside down, so you have a larger base at the top and the point at the bottom.

Think of this as the recipient’s “reading tolerance” level. Although interested initially, it gradually dissipates the more they read.

If your email body is regularly exceeding the point of this imaginary upside-down pyramid, you need to reduce your word count!

And there you have it, how to create the perfect email. Just remember… by using creative, imaginative content and the structure above, you’re catching the recipient’s attention even if they don’t realise it.

Be careful with your new found power!

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