How to Get Your Prospects to Read Your Email Promotions (and decrease the chances they’ll hit the “DELETE” key!)

Delete Key
Imagine your prospect opens his email box and in flows the never-ending piles of emails that he hasn’t checked since last night. What do you think his next move is?

Just like you, he probably does a quick scan to see what catches his eye and then pushes the “delete” key on what doesn’t—and just like you, he doesn’t have time to read everything that comes his way.

You can spend time all the time in the world crafting that perfect email marketing message, but unless your email subject line can get your prospect to open the message and read it—the rest of your hard work on that message is fruitless.

Now, add into the equation the “spam” filters—this decreases chances even more that your hard work will pay off.

In spite of all of this, there are some small but important things that you can do to increase the likelihood that your message will get delivered, opened, read, and ultimately move your prospect to take the action you want him to take.

Stay Clear of These Words or Symbols in Your Promotional Emails

If your email doesn’t reach your prospect’s inbox in the first place, he won’t open it.

Callidus Software posted a list of the words and symbols to stay away from when writing both your email subject lines and copy in a blog post titled, Top 100 Spam Trigger Words and Phrases to Avoid …they trigger spam filters that toss your messages into the spam folder.

Watch the Character Length of Your Email Subject Lines

There has been discussion back and forth on the proper character length of email subject lines, but on average you should keep them at about 40 to 50 characters in length (approximately 5 to 8 words) for desktop users since many email providers may trim your email subject lines if they exceed 60 characters.

For mobile devices, character length is even shorter (approximately 33 to 44 characters) according to an infographic published in a blog post called, Mobile Email Subject Line Displays by

Keeping this short character length in mind, many resources suggest front-loading your most important words first in your email subject lines, those with the most impact, in case they get cut off. These would be the words that describe the “benefit” the prospect will get if he clicks to read more.

Write an Email Subject Line that Talks to Your Prospect and Addresses His Problem

When you send out an email to your prospect, your email subject line is your headline so you need to get his attention immediately or he’ll never open your email to see what you’ve got to say.

According to a webinar conducted by Marketing Experiments titled, Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an email, you can improve email open and click-through rates if you, “connect to an internal event” that your prospect can identify with…also known as his problem.

Here are the results of a test that they conducted on an email subject line to improve the open and click-through rates:

(Original subject line)

Looking for a Lower Rate Mortgage? You’re Not Alone.

 (Treatment subject line)

 Own Your Home Sooner with Free Bi-Weekly Payments!


(Winning subject line)
 Own Your Home Sooner with Free Bi-Weekly Payments!

— Open rates increased 16%; Click-through rates increased 11.3%

–Why did the new email subject line perform better?

#1: It addressed the prospect individually, talking to him, “Your”


#2: Added the benefits of “owning a home sooner” rather than later, with free bi-weekly payments

The original headline was too vague and told the prospect he wasn’t alone…how does that pull him in? Be clear in your email subject lines; vagueness may keep your prospect from opening your message. Your subject line should talk to him directly and offer a benefit—the solution to his problem.

As the host of the webinar, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, so eloquently put it, “Customers aren’t trying to open your emails, they’re trying to eliminate them. To prevent elimination, the marketer must ensure an immediate connection to the customer.

Five Steps to Writing an Effective Call-to-Action

Effective Call to Action
The reason you spend so much time on headlines, subheadlines, and body copy is to ultimately convince your prospect to take a specific action, right?

Whether you want him to sign up for a newsletter, become a subscriber, request more information, accept a free trial, download a demo, or buy a product…you need to tell him what to do next even if you think it is obvious.

If you don’t tell your prospect what action you want him to take next, you could lose him altogether.

An effective call-to-action not only tells your prospect what step to take next, but also motivates him to take that step NOW.

Below are five steps that show you how to create an effective call-to-action:

Example:  Effective Call-to-Action (CTA)

Are you tired of receiving phone calls from bill collectors? Please fill out the online form below NOW to claim your FREE report (valued at $39.95) and you can be on the road to financial recovery within minutes.  Learn how to clean up your credit report quickly and easily—you don’t have to be afraid to answer your phone anymore! Download your FREE report today…this offer is due to expire on March 30th!

STEP 1) Define in your mind what “specific” action you want your prospect to take next
and then instruct your prospect on exactly what to do next—be specific.
CTA: Please fill out the online form below NOW to claim your FREE report

Include a big benefit in your call to action.

Big benefits:
– Learn how to clean up your credit report quickly and easily
– you don’t have to be afraid to answer your phone anymore
– getting a FREE report (valued at $39.95)

Tell the prospect what he will get by taking the action NOW; create a sense of urgency.
– You can be on the road to financial recovery within minutes
Download your FREE report today…this offer is due to expire on March 30th!

STEP 4) Use “active” language rather than “passive” language in your call-to-action.
– fill out the online form below NOW
– claim your FREE report
download your FREE report today

STEP 5) TEST, TEST and RE-TEST your call-to-action. Find out what words and phrases
perform better than others.

Your call-to-action will vary based on what specific action you are trying to persuade your prospect to take and the length and type of the advertising medium you use to deliver your message…but keeping these steps in mind can help you get your prospect to—
“Take Action NOW!”

This One Word Decreased Website Form Sign-Ups by Almost 19%

privacy policy statement
Privacy policy statements are those brief little
one-liners that are usually found at the bottom of an online form that your prospects normally don’t even notice…or do they?

In a test performed by Michael Lykke Aagaard,
CRO Consultant and Copywriter of
, results showed that using the word SPAM in a privacy statement actually decreased conversions by 18.70% when run against a form that had no privacy statement at all.

When Michael set out to improve the number of sign-ups on a form that had no privacy statement by using the following…

“100% privacy – we will never spam you.”

The conversions dropped… by 18.70%.

Then in another test, he changed the privacy statement to…

“We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.”

Sign-ups increased by 19.47%!

Michael’s hypothesis after the test, “…although the message revolves around assuring prospects that they won’t be spammed—the word SPAM itself gives rise to anxiety in the minds of the prospects. Therefore, the word should be avoided in close proximity to the form.”

Give your prospects a more “secure” feeling about giving their PERSONAL information to you by placing a short privacy statement that sounds credible near the end of any form to raise confidence.

If you make the privacy policy too long and involved or use the wrong word or words, it could hurt your sign-ups by raising red flags that cause them to abandon the idea of signing up altogether.

Copy Tests Showed Longer Headlines Improved Response as Much as 300%

Long Headlines vs. Short Headlines, Does It Really Matter?Does it really matter how long the headline is when it comes to your sales copy converting prospects to customers?

According to an article published by Creative Direct Marketing Group titled, Multiply Your Ad’s Results with Benefit-Oriented Headlines and Long Copy, “Believe it or not, long headlines are more effective than short ones. Why? They’re more specific and promise more benefits.”

The article goes on to show that winning headlines tended to be longer and in some cases improved response by as much as 300%.

Business owners, online marketers, and copywriters may go back on forth on this subject, but the point is the perfect length for a headline is probably as long as it takes to state the biggest benefit directly to your prospect and many times this does result in longer headlines.

In a recent blogpost I featured a copy test where these two headlines competed:

“If you’re a retailer in need of fresh ideas and proven growth strategies, this book is for you!”


New Book Reveals Rescue Remedies for Retailers

The first headline improved conversion by 307%.  Why? Yes it is longer, but the reason I believe it won is that it spoke directly to the prospect and followed with a promise of benefits. The second headline although shorter and catchy with all of its “R” words—didn’t win even with its cleverness.

The winning headlines tested in the Creative Direct Marketing Group article spoke directly to the prospect and gave specific benefits.

Whether long or short or somewhere in the middle, your headlines need to answer your prospects question, “Why should I read on any further?”