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How to Make Sure Your Email Message Gets Opened

Email is now one of the key tools in selling B2B. However, email is useless as a sales tool if the prospect or customer never opens the message. This problem was recently surfaced by a Sales Machine reader:
I w...ould like to know about some e-mail techniques focusing on the subject line from you. There have been a several of the times that the mail sent by me to a lead got deleted without even being read/opened.
Well, MY emails almost always get opened, so I'm reveal my own secret rules as a place to start:
  • Rule #1: Personalize your email address. Have an email address that identifies you clearly. Mine has my full name in it, so whomever gets my email knows right away its from me. If they know who I am, they're more likely to open it.
  • Rule #2: Personalize the subject line. If possible, include the name of somebody who you are CERTAIN the recipient will know. (e.g. "[recipient's boss]: Conversation on Software Needs"] This is appropriate when you've been referred to the recipient.
  • Rule #3: Refer to a competitor. If you don't have a referral to use with Rule #2, use the name of the recipient's biggest competitor. That's going to break through the "noise" in all the email messages, because it will be relevant but unusual.
  • Rule #4: Be specific about the benefits. Pick the two or three words that will get them to sit up and take notice. Something like "Productivity gains at [competitor]" looks like SPAM; by contrast "How [competitor] saved 20% in inventory costs" is more likely to get opened.
  • Rule #5: Keep it short. The subject line should be no more than 50 characters, since that's what typically gets displayed on the email system when it's displayed with a list of messages. If you want to see how this is done, check out how newspapers write headlines.
  • Rule #6: Test, Measure, Test. The only way to find out what's going to get opened is by tracking it. Some phrases will work better than others. If you don't track and measure, you'll never be sure whether you're getting the best results.
Here are some external links that might also be helpful: