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In challenging economic conditions, companies seek out the fastest, most affordable ways to reach customers. This time around, many of them are turning to the newest kid on the block to get the job done: e-mail. But as inboxes become more and more cluttered with marketing messages, how can you ensure that your digital mail is noticed, opened, and acted upon?
Here are six ways to help your e-mail messages stand out from the pack:
Focus on the headline. The subject line is the most significant part of the e-mail, and its contents should make it easy for people to scan and understand quickly what you are doing. “The subject line in an e-mail is critically important because it determines if the recipient even opens it,” says Curt Clinkinbeard, executive director of the FAMEE Foundation (Foundation for the Advancement of Marketing Excellence and Entrepreneurs) in Topeka, Kansas.
One way to get those messages opened is by using a subject line that speaks directly to the customer, and that helps to solve his or her problems. “Instead of talking about what your company has to offer,” suggests Clinkinbeard. “Touch your customers’ heartstrings by addressing their challenges [such as acne, weight gain, or financial distress] right in the subject line,” he adds.
Create an effective pre-header. The next most important element of an e-mail marketing message is the pre-header, or those few words in the body of the message. This content is important, says Jordan Ayan, founder and CEO at Lisle, Illinois-based SubscriberMail, because it will often pop up on the recipient’s cell phone, for example, immediately following the subject line. “It gives you some additional real estate to communicate more information in,” says Ayan, who advises using specific, descriptive, customer-oriented pre-headers. A store that carries housewares, for example, would do better with a pre-header that says, “The best way to boil an egg,” versus a more general header, such as “Kitchen News.”
Properly position your call to action. Instead of putting your call to action (the CTA, or the “Buy now!” message within your e-mail) at the bottom of your message, Ayan tells clients to use the space “above the fold” in the actual e-mail message. In other words, make sure recipients can view the call to action on the first page, without having to scroll down. “Before you hit the send button, make sure that you preview (in various different e-mail clients, such as Outlook and Gmail) the message to make sure your CTA appears above the fold,” he adds.