Inboxes Swelling to 140 Emails a Day—How on Earth Can You Stand Out?

Blog90_EMailNotDead-1Your email inbox is a war zone. Every day 120 emails assault the space, one every four minutes, with the hope that you read through, click through and act on the message. Harris Interactive claims we can only handle 50 a day. Yet the number keeps rising, up to 140 day by 2018, cites Radicati Group’s Email Statistics Report.

You’re only weapon against the deluge: Delete and Unsubscribe. Okay, very effective for you, but a lethal blow to business-to business (B2B) marketers.

And here’s the rub. Email remains the predominant form of communication in the business space.  So how do we call a truce and show respect for email’s fragile target—the prospect?

While many email messages contain great content, it takes more than a powerful message to get your prospect to open your e-mail, read it and respond. If you don’t execute your campaigns correctly, you will not only alienate prospects, but be cut off indefinitely through their spam filters.

Now, I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. I’m just warning you that the work is going to get harder as your inbox overflows at 140 messages a day. And as marketers, we face a constant challenge.

Let’s step back and dust off our email programs. It’s the right time now that we know prospects face three times more emails than they can handle.

Blog90_EMailNotDead-2Five Key Questions

Before sending any email, we’ve got to answer the five critical questions our prospects ask when they’re deciding whether to open an email:

  1. What is it?

  2. Why do I need it now?

  3. What makes it different from other things?

  4. Who else thinks it’s good

  5. Is this worth my time?

Every marketing message inherently seeks to persuade or sell, and whether you’re selling a product or service, the whole process starts from “Is this worth my time?”  When we answer these questions truthfully and consistently, we’ve got a real shot at our prospect’s attention. Now let’s turn to the basics.

Core Mechanics

Here are some key points to address when doing your email campaigns:

  • Make your subject line stand out; be as creative as you can; 6 – 10 words

  • Use your recipient’s first name (open rates jump 3%)

  • Be human (share your point of view, use natural language, think I, you and we)

  • Keep your copy short & relevant (get to the point, use punch/panache, don’t talk above the audience)

  • Use subheads to guide reader

  • Use compelling images (do better than stock photos; use video, and bold design)

  • Try using a post script because it’s always read

  • Make sure your call-to-action is strong and effective

  • Include feedback and forward mechanisms (via share, simple reply, key links)

  • Double-check all your links (email to yourself first to review and repair)

Now I’d like to focus on three areas that deserve extra attention. The call to action. List segmentation. And timing.

Use List Segmentation to Stand Out

According to Ascend2 and Research Partners’ recent Email Marketing Trends Survey, forty seven percent (47%) of those survey said targeted list segmentation was the most effective way to improve email click-through rates.

But list segmentation is the most difficult method to increase click-through rates because it requires a data-driven marketing approach, and the use of clean, complete and high quality information on prospects and customers.  You can spend a fortune and barely scratch the surface depending upon the size of your market space.

You still need to do it. And, besides, email marketing is beautifully customizable. Segment your lead list into  different, like-minded groups and customize your messaging to each. You will see higher click-through rates. And your prospects will be more engaged and open to a relationship.

CTAs—The Heavy Lifter

Blog90_EMailNotDead-3Also according to Ascend2 and Research Partners’ recent Email Marketing Trends Survey, creating a meaningful call-to-action is the most effective method for overcoming the most challenging obstacle to email marketing success—low click rates.

Sixty five percent (65%) of those surveyed said the most effective method used for increasing click-through rates is a meaningful call-to-action offer. CTAs are the weight-lifters of your email campaigns.

Just don’t make people sift through a lot of information only to find the CTA at the bottom of your email. Put it at the top. Make it clear and friendly. Whether you objective is to click a link, share a report or offer a consultation, let your readers find what interests them quickly.

The 2.7-second rule applies before the reader opts out, claims email provider ExactTarget.

Frequency and Timing—It’s Everything

Along with a segmented list, powerful and relevant message, and strong CTA, timing ultimately makes the connection. There’s plenty of debate on when is the best time to send an email. Most reports cite Tuesday and Wednesday as the best days with Sunday as the worst. It’s more important that you find out what works for you. Do a simple A/B split test and you’ll quickly see how the responses sort out. See the chart below:


(source: Experian)

“Tuesday’s emails have an overall open rate of about 18 percent, the highest open rate compared to the other weekdays. Interestingly, Saturday has the highest open rate overall, at 18.3 percent. But we need to take into account Saturday’s low volume of email. This makes Tuesday the winner for most emails opened, compared to any other day of the week,” shows Experian.  Other points to consider from Experian:

  • Send out educational emails earlier in the week

  • Actionable emails should go out later in the week

  • If you want people to open, send in the afternoon

  • If you want people to reply, send in the evening

A study by GetResponse shows that emails have the best chance of being opened within an hour after they arrive in your prospect’s inbox. Any later and the open rate drops to less than 5 percent after four hours. In 24 hours, that drops to less than 1 percent. So send emails closest to the time your subscribers can read them.

Timing is also tied to when and where a prospect opens the email. Today more and more emails are open on mobile devices. Which is why you need to make your message clear, concise and compelling, and your email design mobile-friendly.

Research from Lionbridge Global Email predicts that the number of mobile email users will grow 23 percent in 2015, suggesting the time is now to start investigating responsive design—the practice of optimizing content for use and engagement on both mobile and other devices.

The Golden Nugget Strategy

Blog90_EMailNotDead-5Let me share what I’ve found as a great way to improve open rates and responses. I call it the golden nugget strategy. I offer “something” of value with a strong call-to-action.

For example, in chapter 7 in my book MERGE—Simplify the Complex Sale in Five Surefire Steps I discuss a campaign I conducted that resulted in a very high response rate. We conducted a timely industry survey of peers and offered the results in a confidential study if a respondent would participate. Out of 50 companies I e-mailed, 98 percent responded positively. I noticed 30 percent checked out my Linked In profile and 60 percent visited our website.

Recently, for another company for which I am a managing director, we sent out a white paper on the topic of phantom stock; we got 700 downloads the first day and 300 the second day. Always communicate something of value to the recipient, something useful, relevant and interesting and your prospect will take action.

Direct Response Emails

Recently, I adopted Hubspot’s direct response email program. It’s an automatic and personalized email response to site visitors, based on their search queries. Unlike many direct marketing emails, the direct response email is often viewed as a positive by your prospects, like my golden nugget emails.

Direct response emails get more opens, clicks, and conversions because they are based upon browsing habits, buyer behavior and more. They offer additional information or value based on the prospect’s search.

As another example, a prospect downloads a national trends study from my site. I can offer him an opportunity also to download a part of the study that’s more industry specific for him, or I may offer a tool to benchmark performance of his own organization against the results of the study. I’m providing value. I’m providing information that he may not otherwise have access to. Best of all, I’m doing the right thing by my prospect.

The key to B2B selling is to meet prospects under favorable conditions. The good news is that you can be the one to create the favorable conditions through the climate you set for your emails.  Make ‘em smart. Penetrating. Informative. Entertaining. And don’t ever waste your prospect’s time.  If you follow some of the suggestions I’ve offered here, you’ll be delighted and rewarded with the results.

See you on the upside, Bill

For more information on how to simplify the complex sales, go to

Or call Bill in San Diego at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700


News Alert

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And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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