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The 4 Email Messages Your Customers Will Open
by Jeff B. Copeland
June 23, 2023
Handsome businessman checking email on his phone.

How do you cut through the clutter of over-stuffed email inboxes and make sure your messages get read?  Step one is to write great subject lines that persuade your email audience to open your messages because they’re right on target to meet customer needs.

But here’s another tip: Some types of email messages are more likely in general to get read. 

You should know these four types of Most Likely to Be Opened messages and use them to your maximum advantage.

1. The Welcome Message

You’ll probably never get as much attention from a customer as when you send your first message after signup for your email program. Welcome emails get twice the opens and three times the clicks of standard messages, according to one recent study.

Don’t miss out on this major opportunity to set a favorable image in the client’s mind. Certainly don’t send a plain, form thank you message with no other content.

Some tactics to try:

  • If you promised a special offer in exchange for an email address, then fulfill that deal right away in your welcome message with directions on where to go to get the coupon or other offer.
  • Reinforce that the customer made the right decision to join your mailing list by outlining the benefits that participating customers enjoy. 
  • Enhance your brand by telling the backstory of your company or your founder. A nice touch would be a personal, signed statement from the company leader.

2. The Happy Birthday Message

Many customers will give you their birth date on registration for your list, on the promise of some special treat because – well, birthdays make everyone feel like a kid again, even if they’re trying to forget their actual age. Birthday emails have 179% higher click rates than the usual promotional emails, one study found.

Setting up a birthday message is easy in email programs. You can schedule the message to send automatically on the birth date, and set the subject line to pull in the first name of the recipient for bit of warm personalization.

Depending on your business, your message might be a simple greeting. Or you can deliver a gift too, in the form of a discount or other deal. It may help to mention the offer in the subject line, in case the birthday boy/girl’s inbox is overflowing with wishes from other marketers.

3.  The Sale or Deal Message

Let’s face it, the bottom line reason most customers sign up for your messages is not for love of your company but in hopes of getting an alert to an upcoming sale or the immediate gratification of a coupon or other instant offer. So you have a willing audience—now, don’t turn them off with the wrong kind of subject line.

  • Use ALL CAPS, “!!!” and “% off” sparingly. Too much hyperactive, sales-y language could trigger the spam filters of email providers. Just as important, they could trigger suspicions from readers that they’re about to get hyped.
  • You can play it straight with a subject line like “Enjoy This Special Offer at Our New Location”…or sound urgent, like “Last chance to get 50% off!”  Just be sure to send test messages to see which subject lines play better before you send to your whole list. Your email program most should offer comparison (or “A/B”) testing—use it.

4. The Transactional Message

We’re talking emailed purchase receipts, shipping confirmations, and return-of-purchase confirmations—your point of sale system can generate these messages. Customers open them at rates around 100%, making them a great opportunity to present branding or marketing messages.

But mind these cautions:

  • To comply with the federal CAN-SPAM law on deceptive emailing, the subject line and the preponderance of the message must be about the transaction. In other words, you can’t collect an email address to send a receipt and instead send what’s mostly a marketing message.
  • Ask permission twice to use an email address: Once if the customer would like a receipt emailed, and a second time if the customer would also like to be added to your mailing list. You want to build an email list of recipients who truly want to read your messages and won’t send them to their spam folders.
About the author
Jeff B. Copeland
Jeff B. Copeland is the senior product manager for content at Dex Media, the digital marketing experts for local businesses. Read more of his writing on the Dex Media Blog.
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