My wife has 37,701 unread marketing emails on her iPhone - this is one she clicked

No Photoshop tricks here, this is what the email on my wife’s iPhone looks like (although there are probably a few hundred more since I took this photo):

Picture: Tom Etherington

Two things you should know:

  • Unlike most of us, she often ticks the box that authorises companies to send her marketing material.
  • She does read and answer all personal emails (I was asked to point that out).

While it brings me out in a cold sweat to look her phone – I can’t stand one shouty red number on my email – it underlines just how hard it is for businesses to get people to open their emails, let alone read the contents and take action.

Advertising an upcoming sale, offering a 10% discount, or a free trial just doesn’t cut it anymore, if it ever did.

One of the best ways, of course, is to invest some time (and maybe money) in researching your target market. You’ll get far better results if you know your customer inside out and what really interests them, what really drives them and what really makes them tick. Not just guessing what they might be into.

Armed with that knowledge you can provide content or make offers that they will truly value.

You’ll see from the example below (taken from inside my wife’s email, with permission) that Westfield Eastgardens earned one of her rare clicks:

Picture: Tom Etherington

Westfield knows how to engage busy mums with an eye for a bargain who are in panic mode as the school holidays approach. They nailed the perfect four-word combination that will get opens.

In other words, it’s all about the subject line.

Get the subject line right and you’re halfway to winning the battle because it doesn’t matter how good your email content is on the inside, how great your offer, nobody is going to click if you haven’t captured their interest.

Which brings me to my favourite client of the month. We’re working on an email marketing campaign for a company that wants to connect with existing customers about a new service on offer.

Previous campaigns have been a bit of a washout, so this is what the customer relations manager said to me:

“[Our industry] is boring as bat shit, so anything to liven things up will help engage our customer base. I’m happy for you to be really out there.”

Music to my ears. We’ve given the emails a bit of personality (in line with their brand values) and gone with a combination of randomness and humour for the subject lines.

Time will tell if it pays off but their campaign is definitely going to stand out in a sea of bland, generic emails all vying for attention.

Their industry might be “boring as bat shit” but it doesn’t mean their email marketing has to be.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Tom Etherington is Creative Director at Connect Content

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