In these days of increasing inbox crowdedness, competition for eyeballs is at an all-time high. Take your own inbox for example. Think of all of the emails you get in a single day. Your time to read these messages is limited. You have to pick and choose which ones you want to look at and read. This is true for your target audience too, and is a compelling reason to make sure your content is valuable to them.

Of course, you can have the greatest, most relevant content in your emails, but if no one opens them, then it all goes to waste. So what are some ways to ensure that your emails will be opened and read by your customers? Here are five of them.

1: Segment your mailing list and send more targeted emails

How big is your mailing list? When it comes to email marketing, quality is definitely more important than quantity. Larger lists tend to have lower open rates because it becomes difficult to please everybody, and those who aren’t interested just won’t open your messages. The better you know your target audience and their interests — and the more your emails cater to them — the higher your open rates will be.

Think about your mailing list. Are there ways you can break it up into smaller, more targeted lists? For example, if you own a sporting goods store, you can send separate messages to those who are interested in baseball, soccer, football, tennis, running, and so on. Or, if it’s appropriate, you can send separate messages to men and to women, or to single people and families.

When you get an email about something you are truly interested in and that is relevant to you, you are more likely to open it.

2: Improve your subject lines

To put it most simply, a good subject line will get an email opened. Lead with a benefit that lets the receiver know what’s in it for him or her. Make it interesting, and try to pique the reader’s curiosity. You want the reader to feel compelled to find out more.

Remember, your audience is extremely busy, and will likely make the decision to open or ignore your email within two seconds. You want them to feel like if they don’t open your message then they will be missing out. Convey urgency and timeliness but remember: avoid all caps, exclamation points, and words like “free” and “sale” (they’ll get your email caught by the spam filter).

3: Test your sending times

One way to boost your open rate is to look at when people who do open your emails are doing so. Is it in the morning, midday, or at night? Try splitting your list in half. Send to half the people at your normal time, and to the other half on a different day or at a different time of day to see if one results in a higher open rate.

Similarly, sometimes you can find the ideal time to send your emails simply by looking at the addresses on your list. Are they predominately work email addresses or ones that go to a personal inbox, like Gmail or AOL? Those who get emails sent to them at work are more likely to read them during the day, and those who get them at a personal account will likely read them at night. Change your send time accordingly.

4: Check your “from” name

Most emails that are quickly ignored or deleted are those with an unrecognizable “from” name or address. Is your “from” name easily recognizable? Does your target audience know who they are receiving an email from? Put a name that your receivers are most familiar with in your “from” line. In most cases, this is not your own name (or the name of the person in your office who sends out your email campaigns), but you would know best if your readers would recognize a specific person’s name versus your business or organization’s name.

5: Evaluate how often (and what) you send

Sometimes the reason why people don’t open emails is because they simply get too many of them. Or, on the flip side, maybe you’re not sending often enough and recipients are losing interest in between the times when they do hear from you. Consider asking those on your mailing list how often they want to hear from you. For example, give them the option to sign up for weekly or monthly emails.

Another way to change your frequency is to adjust your content. Are you sending weekly messages that contain both informational newsletter content and promotions in the same emails? Why not send separate newsletter and promotional mailings, one on one week and the other on the next? That way, you’ll be able to see which messages your audience responds to more, and you can alter your send times accordingly.

Related Topics: Email Marketing