Did you know that an estimated 206.6 billion emails are sent & received every day? 206.6 BILLION. EVERY DAY. Think about how many emails you get on a daily basis. Which ones get your attention? Which ones fall into a black hole, only to be lost, ignored, or deleted before the sender even has a chance to woo you with their charm?

In my case, there are 5,892 unread emails in my personal Yahoo account. Yes, you could call my email a black hole. But I suspect I’m not alone. Those 5,892 unread emails didn’t do it for me. They had no woo, no charm, and just didn’t speak to me. That’s 5,892 missed opportunities for the marketers trying to connect with me.

But why do certain emails get ignored, while others are clicked on right away? Since I seem to be a poster-child for letting my email build into a mess of unread messages, maybe I can offer some insight. As a consumer and as an email marketer, I’ve come to the conclusion that it boils down to three simple rules:

  1. Timing and Consistency – I know that every week I will find an email from Funjet Vacations in my inbox. Without fail, I will open it. I’m one of those people who always wants to be on a beach (or at Disney World, or in the mountains). But since I can’t be there, I enjoy getting the weekly dose of possibilities delivered right to my inbox. It’s just the right amount of dreaming and planning, every Friday.

    Like a lot of things in life, timing is everything. Personally, I don’t want two or three emails a day from the same company (unless they have a really, really good message, or an offer I can’t pass up). I could do without two or three a week from most of them. But I still get emails that seem over-delivered. That doesn’t mean frequent emails aren’t right for your audience, but it does mean that you need to carefully evaluate your email schedule. You need to find the sweet spot between too few and too many for your readers.

  1. Subject Line Relevance – Bath and Body Works does a great job at keeping their subject lines relevant and timely. Check out one that I recently received (and opened) from them, “TODAY only (this will brighten your day!).” Wait, what? What will brighten my day? And it’s only today! Of course, I want to know more.

    Did you know that 47% of people open emails based solely on the subject line. Your subject line is just as important as your email’s copy. With mobile email, your message needs to get seen in light of busy schedules. Emails get checked in between meetings, while grabbing a quick lunch, or while in line at the grocery store. You have seconds to connect with your reader. Seconds. Don’t waste them. The goal of your subject line is to connect with something that your reader wants or needs right now. Make it personal, create a sense of urgency, and keep it short. Otherwise, you will be swiped to the left or scrolled past – never to be seen again.

  1. Relationship – Unfortunately for my husband, I have a relationship with Target. I know that Target’s emails will deliver information that I want (but don’t necessarily need). I trust that they won’t be wasting my time and so, whether I need something or not, I will open their emails.

    Have you built a relationship with your readers? Like Target, there are companies that have built my trust. I know that their emails will be relevant to what I need right now; nobody has time to waste on emails that aren’t. With every email, you have the opportunity to be relevant and build your brand in front of people who want to know more or take action with you.

So, why do so many marketing emails get ignored? In the end, email marketing is about building and maintaining a relationship with your audience, providing them with what they want, when they want it, and making what you have to offer crystal clear. That relationship must be summed up in the two seconds that it takes to click, swipe left of scroll past you. It’s not easy to tailor your email message, and it can be even trickier to fit it into one quick glance, but it can be done with the right strategy and the right team.

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web developer / interactive marketer / bringer of infectious joy