Do customers want your emails?

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The delete option is the most used key on my computer. If an email subject line is not something I’m looking for or it doesn’t grab me in a second, voila, delete!

These days, our inboxes are literally inundated. So are our customers’ inboxes. Yet, for marine dealers the use of email is an important tool for promoting products and staying in front of customers. So what does it take to make recipients urgently want to open an email?

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an exclusive organization of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. He recently surveyed some council members about their ideas on how to get more customers to open emails. Here are a few useful examples:

Use funny titles: One member reported a 30-40 percent increase in open rates when using funny titles for the emails. It causes people to want to see what the email contains.

No “marketing fluff”: For important updates and information, don’t be generic. Use clear and concise messaging in the subject line and elsewhere. Avoid using marketing fluff (like all capital letters or too many exclamation points). Customers can tell the difference between a marketing and transactional email.

Create trust: Nothing is more annoying than when an email says, “IMPORTANT!” and it isn’t, warns Adam Stillman of SparkReel. Customers will feel conned and will likely delete or opt out altogether from future emails. Pick content and timing very carefully before titling any email IMPORTANT. Those will always get opened so long as the recipient hasn’t been tricked in the past. “Don’t be the boy who cried wolf!”

Set a deadline: Put the deadline in the subject line. People take deadlines seriously and they will be much more likely to open the email if they feel like they will miss out if they don’t take action, suggests Charlie Graham of Shop It To Me Inc. Another approach is to add “For a Limited Time” It sounds cheesy because it is, says Rob Fulton of Exponential Black, but it’s damn effective. When a customer hears, “For a Limited Time,” they get a move on.

Send it from you, not the company: Really need customers to open an email? Make it from a real person. Advises Aaron Schwartz of Modify Watches: “It sounds silly, but seeing ‘Aaron’ instead of ‘Modify Watches’ makes a big difference. When you really need something from your fans, you should connect personally.”

Something more: To get more customers to open emails related to important information, present them in such a way that they are attractive to the recipient, suggests Priori Legal’s Basha Rubin. Today’s users are very good at ignoring content. Give them something to look forward to on the subject line and in the email.

The A/B test: Try using a variety of different subject lines to see which ones get the highest open rate. Over the long run, the best ones that deliver high open rates will become obvious.

Emails can be effective information and sales tools for dealers to use, provided they’re created with careful planning and thought. In the New Year, make a resolution to have a staff member devote time to studying the most effective techniques for successful email programs.

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