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3 Ways to Get People to Read Your Emails

February 28, 2018

Prospecting by email is challenging – and often unrewarding. After all, 112.4 billion (yeah, with a B) business emails are exchanged every day. That’s 122 emails per person per day. And that’s an average; you can bet the president of my company receives far more emails than this lowly editor – so you won’t be surprised about how carefully you need to craft your emails.

Here are some tips for writing emails that recipients will open, read, and respond to.

A super subject lineConcept of sending e-mails from your computer

The subject line is the gateway to an email; the wrong words will land you in the trash folder. (Or worse, the spam folder.) It doesn’t matter what the content is – you could be giving away free money – if your subject line sucks, you might as well have sent a blank email.

You don’t have much room to grab your prospect’s attention, so avoid the following in your email subject lines and save space for the words that really count.   

Useless jargon like “reaching out,” “connecting,” and “touching base”

Emails are obviously reaching out/connecting/touching base – that’s the definition of ‘email.’

Your company name (XYZ, Inc.)

If the recipient hasn’t heard of XYZ, Inc., it reinforces that it’s a sales email – why else would a business they've never heard of email them?

Time-related phrases like “15 minutes” or “quick”

Aka a salesperson asking for a meeting – look for a faster way to appear pushy and you’ll fail.


Incorrect grammar, punctuation, spelling, typos, etc. make you look unprofessional and disorganized.

Compelling content

Congratulations! You passed the subject line test and the recipient opened your email. Here’s what they should find in it.

A non-salesperson persona

Use personalization tokens – ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ are too formal; you won’t sound genuine.

Ease of use

Make it easy for them to figure out why you sent the email – no more than 5 sentences, bullet points to emphasize the important parts, a blindingly obvious offer, and the desired response/action.

Good manners

Short is good, but abrupt is rude, so include a greeting (but not sir or madam), use “please” and “thank you,” and don’t write in all caps.

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Skip the spam

As email automation has improved, businesses have increased their email campaigns. Unfortunately, so have spammers. In fact, it’s estimated that 84% of all emails are spam.

So how do you make sure your emails don’t bypass the inbox and head straight for the spam folder?

Get permission (and make it revocable)

Don’t email anyone who hasn’t explicitly requested your emails ("implicit" permission from the fine print of your privacy policy isn’t permission, btw). Also, each message must offer an “unsubscribe” option – that you honor.

Don’t be deceptive

Your “from,” “to,” “reply-to,” and routing information must be accurate and identify the message’s origin, and the subject line and the email’s content need to match (aka no clickbait).

Use the right words

Just say no to words like “medical,” “financial,” and “free.”

In addition to losing readers because your emails land in their spam folders, you can lose money, too – companies that violate the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 can be fined up to $40,654 for each non-compliant email. (You can read more about the CAN-SPAM Act here.)

The best rule of thumb

Head spinning yet? Consider the cliché “treat others how you’d like to be treated” and apply it to email – ask yourself, “If I received this email, would I open it, read it, and respond to it?” If the answer is no, start over. If yes, send away!

Still not sure you’re using email marketing effectively? We can help – drop us a line or give us a call.
Courtney Stallings
Written by Courtney Stallings

Courtney writes and edits content for Leading Results and their clients. She has been described as a Grammar Nazi and enjoys crafting writing with excellent spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

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