You’ve got an email list. You’re pumping out emails that you think are awesome. But no one’s reading them. What gives? It’ll take some testing, tweaking and hard work to find out, but with a little care, your email campaign can become one of your most powerful marketing tools.  Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Your subject line is too long. Email clients may only display 25 characters of your subject line. To put that in perspective, that last sentence was 66 characters. You don’t have room to mess around. You’ve got to get directly to the meat of your subject line without any frippery. Don’t waste characters with your company’s name–they can see that in the “from” line. To make sure your subject line isn’t getting cut off, use a free utility like this Subject Line Tester to see how it will appear in different email clients.

2. Your subject line isn’t topical. Every day, I get an email from Etsy. They aren’t complicated emails; they’re just roundups of different products for sale all arranged around a central theme. But those themes are always incredibly topical. For instance, in the first week of every month, they’ll have an email about that month’s birthstone, or zodiac sign. During Thanksgiving, they sent emails themed to turkeys and Pilgrims and Native Americans and harvest and every other idea you could tie to the holiday. Everything they do is topical. If no one’s opening your emails, ask yourself if you’re promoting the wrong product at the wrong time.

3. You’re sending at the wrong time. There are tons of studies out there crowing about the perfect time to send emails. While they can offer some guidance, the only time you need to worry about is when your clients are opening their emails. At Roundpeg, we send our email newsletter early in the morning, when small business owners are waking up and checking their messages for the first time. For a client who sells products focused on moms, we send in the late evening, when moms are done with dinner and winding down for the day. The only way to know for sure when your magic window is is through testing. Divide your list into smaller subsections, sending the same content to different groups throughout the day and see what gets the most response. Continue to refine until you’ve found the golden hour.

4. Your list sucks. The single biggest predictor of email marketing success is the quality of that list. If you’ve purchased a massive list and are blasting your messages to thousands of uninterested people who have never even heard of you, not only is your open rate going to be low, you’re going to be swimming in SPAM reports. You need a permission-based list of people who have put up their hand and indicated they want to hear from you. Further, you need a list that’s subdivided into targeted groups. This will allow you to create messages that are relevant, instead of casting a wide net and hoping someone gets caught. Go narrow. Go deep.

Looking for more subject line ideas?  Check out our Subject Line Guide

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