Email Secrets of the Stars, Part  2 of a three-part series

Emails that 1. make it into your readers’ in boxes need to then survive the ruthless pruning that goes on once the email arrives. How do you get a reader to open the email instead of clicking on the “this is spam” button or tossing it into the trash? Here are just a few ideas:

Create a short, compelling subject line. The more quickly you can get your message out to your reader, the better. Since the majority of key decision makers use mobile devices to read their email, your subject line should be 39 characters or less. And, the subject line should entice the reader to take a look inside by presenting a compelling proposition. Avoid vague subjects, such as “November News” or “Special Offer” and instead give a quick look at the content that the reader will find inside.

Personalize the subject line. If your email database has first names, include the recipient’s name in the subject line. Personalized emails can increase open rates by 50-100% more than non-personalized emails.

Make sure the email looks good in the preview pane. The majority of users keep their default settings in their email programs, and the default is to list the emails and see a preview, or portion, of the email in the preview pane. Since this almost always includes the top left corner of the email, make sure you have relevant information in the upper-left area of your email. The user should know what the email is about by seeing only the preview area.

Don’t rely on images. Another default preference is to keep images hidden when previewing or viewing an email message. A user with images hidden won’t see any of the beautiful graphics you’ve created. Make sure each image has an alt tag, which will display on screen even if images are turned off. And, make your headlines (at top left, of course!) be in HTML, not as a graphic.

Go light on the graphics. An email that takes too long to load won’t get read. Keep your file size under 30K for better read rates. If you email on the weekends, you might consider a text-only version, as many users check their email on mobile devices during off hours.

Check your email in as many scenarios as you can. Browsers and email programs each have their own quirks and can vary from machine to machine. Take a look at your email on Windows machines, Macs, Blackberrys, iPhones, and other mobile devices, and in different programs on each device. Make adjustments to your email message until it works well on all platforms.

Don’t mail too often. If you bombard your readers with emails they will begin to consider your messages as spam. If you want to really target your readers, ask them when they subscribe how often they’d like updates from you.

A combination of a great subject line, a meaningful preview, and well-crafted HTML can help boost your email open rate and land your messages in your customers’ minds instead of in their trash bin.

3. Making sure your emails are read is the final step.