It’s sad, but true. Customers are deleting emails at a rapid rate and (worse) simply ignoring many brands’ attempts to engage them. How do I know? Because I’m one of them and, if we’re being honest with each other, you probably are, too. But what makes us open some emails and not others? Today we’ll explore that question as we take a trip into my inbox. First, we’ve got a serious problem to discuss.

It’s Worse Than We Thought

The attention span of the average consumer is getting shorter by the year. According to a recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span dropped by a whopping 4 seconds since 2000. At the current average of 8 seconds, consumers are only slightly less attentive than goldfish (who clock in at 9 seconds, for the record).


What does this mean for email marketers? It means you need to be on your game and use all available resources to make the cut. Let’s go over the plan.

Create Conversions in 3 Steps

Statistics indicate that approximately two-thirds of US consumers over the age of 15 are motivated to follow through with a purchase after reading a brand’s email message. Holy potential sales! That is, if your email is opened in the first place. As we take a journey through my inbox, we’ll look at a couple examples of good and not-so-good email marketing choices.

Step 1: Open

  • Use data wisely – Data is growing, technology is moving and we’re able to analyze more information than ever before. Regardless of the knowledge available at our fingertips, we make the same mistake time and time again – we just don’t use our data enough. Many marketers fail to use data segmentation to their advantage. If you know why your customers are opening and responding your emails, you can adjust your strategy to do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
  • Timing is everything – Whether you realize it or not, timing absolutely is everything when sending emails to customers. The general consensus is that best open rates are in the late evening, sometime after dinner and before midnight. But timing isn’t general, is it? It’s exact, by its very nature. In order to increase conversions for your specific brand, the key will be to determine when your audience responds best to emails and aim for delivery during those hours.
  • Subject titles matter – Believe it or not, titles can make or break your email’s chance of getting opened. As someone who receives at least 40 emails a day, I can confirm it’s the truth. If titles are too long, too promotional or just plain boring, your email is destined for deletion. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Spend a little more time considering your subject line before the big send-out. While a length of 50 characters is recommended, sometimes much less than that will do the trick. Check out how Andrew Warner of got my attention with just 15 characters.

Email 1

Step 2: Read

  • Where’s the reward? – Your email subscribers are your most valuable resource. Are you making them feel special with your messages? If not, it’s time to start. With every brand vying for a customer’s attention, the little things you do to make your subscribers feel appreciated will go a long way. According to Salesforce, 70% of subscribers always open an email from a company on their list of favorites. In order to make the rank, use emails to offer exclusive deals or free items to your customers.
  • Mobile is the future – Even if your reader wants to know what you have to say, an email that doesn’t play well with mobile devices is bound for the trash bin. In fact, a recent report by Return Path stated, “63% of US consumers delete emails immediately if they are not optimized for mobile.” If these estimates are accurate, an email that cannot be viewed on a mobile device costs businesses nearly two-thirds of their potential sales.
  • Advertisements galore – Before getting started, let me be clear that this section does not refer to the hardworking marketers promoting the occasional sale or announcing a new product. Many brands, however, feel that simply emailing customers a sales page is enough to earn and keep their attention for the long-term. Unfortunately for those brands, that’s not the case. Here’s another example from my inbox that, until now, remained comfortably forgotten.


Step 3: Take Action

  • Interaction – As we already know, building and maintaining a list of email subscribers is about more than sales – it’s about connection. So why is that so many email marketers fail to add a call to action to their email? Your guess is as good as mine. The easier we make it for customers to like, share and comment directly after reading an email, the more likely they will follow through with our request. Just remember: An engaged customer is a loyal customer.
  • Re-engagement – Okay, so we’ve got engagement down, but what if they’ve just stopped listening altogether? Too often, marketers write off these lost customers – who haven’t read or opened an email in months – without making any effort to get them back. Sometimes, the number of “inactive” subscribers can be as much as 30% of your list. This is where a re-engagement campaign comes into play. By making attempts to re-engage customers, you’re letting customers know that they are valued and missed.


The Road Ahead

These three steps give email marketers a blueprint from which to work, but neglecting to factor in the small, but important, details increases the chance that your company’s emails will end up in the trash. By implementing these techniques and getting a little more creative with your emails, you might just be able to scratch your brand’s name off the “dunce” list after all.

What other obstacles have you faced with your email marketing campaign?