How to Get Clients to Open Your Emails

November 11, 2014

by Dan Richards

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It’s imperative that your clients and prospective clients open and read your emails. But with escalating volumes, people are drowning in email, leading to steep declines in open rates and readerships.

I recently gave a presentation on how to make email communication more effective. I began by asking advisors to think of the one factor more than any other that convinces others to click on an email and read it.

Who the email is from matters. Is it a familiar, trusted name or an impersonal company? Time of day is another factor. Research shows that emails sent between 10 and 11 am are most likely to be opened. But there was universal agreement that the subject line, more than anything else, drives open rates. Indeed, a recent Wall Street Journal article on The New Science of Email Subject Lines discussed how strangers convinced Jeff Bezos and Mark Cuban to respond to their emails in part because of the subject lines.

In light of that, I asked each advisor to bring five emails they’d sent in the past week and discuss the subject lines with a colleague. After the advisors exchanged opinions on effective subject lines, I shared results from a recent analysis.

An analysis of 30 million emails

I examined research by Mail Chimp, a leader in the business of mass email campaigns, which analyzed 30 million emails to identify patterns in those that were opened. I shared 10 subject lines that Mail Chimp had tested and that advisors might use in an email to a client. I asked advisors to circle five out of those 10 that they thought would make business owners open the email.

Take 15 seconds to go through this exercise yourself. Identify the five subject lines on the list below that you think are most effective:

  1. Solving team management headaches in one hour
  2. Five strategies to accelerate business results
  3. Follow-up
  4. Update
  5. Results are in
  6. How to protect your business from lawsuits
  7. Introduction
  8. 10 tips for getting customer referrals
  9. Checking in
  10. Blank subject line

After canvassing advisors for their responses, I shared the best subject lines, all with open rates above 85%:

92% Blank subject line

90% Follow-up

89% Update

88% Introduction

87% Checking in

And here are the worst performing subject lines, all with open rates below 10%

  • Solving team management headaches in one hour
  • Five strategies to accelerate business results
  • Results are in
  • How to protect your business from lawsuits
  • 10 tips for getting customer referrals

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