Never Be the Last Gift Opened Again

How to Get Your Email Campaign Opened

I attended a large wedding shower a few months ago. To be honest, I really didn’t want to go and had a customer deadline looming. I didn’t have four free hours to spend but I went anyway.

I rushed out that morning to buy a last-minute gift from the registry. Thank goodness for the gift-wrap station in the store. I made a passable bow, taped on the card, and off I went.

It wasn’t lost on me that the gift table was brimming with gifts from the same store in the same generic wrapping paper with the same limp bow.

Still thinking strategically, I placed my gift closest to the bride. Surely she’d open it first and I could duck out and get back to my project. That was the plan – but it didn’t work out that way.

My gift sat on the table and got moved from one side to another. Present, after beautiful present, was opened to oohs and ahhs. “Please open mine. I have to get going. You’ll really like it,” kept going through my mind. I was getting antsy.

Finally, my gift was in the hands of the bride. The last gift to be opened. I think only the two of us were paying attention. She beamed at me as she held up the gravy boat I bought. I winked at her and bolted for the door.

So, What Does This Have to Do With Email?

It occurred to me that this experience is just like some of the email campaigns in my inbox. How many of you send out routine, ho-hum email blast with a boring subject line and generic content?

They land in my inbox saying “Open me.” Unless they are relevant and grab my attention, to the back of the line they go at best, and into the trash unread at  worst.

Let’s Do It Differently

I am pleased to say that I have a new strategy for giving gifts and surprisingly it works well for my email campaigns also.

Have a plan and be intentional
Stop writing last-minute content. Just stop. Instead, keep a notepad handy and write topics, outlines, and key phrases noting down the appropriate audience segment. Plan your content publication dates on the calendar.

I don’t shop last minute for showers or weddings anymore either. As soon as I get an invitation, I shop online and have the gift shipped to me. I get the best selection because everyone else is waiting till the last minute.

Give them a reason
Subject lines matter. It is critical to get it right and affects your open rates dramatically. Take advantage of your email provider’s tools that use algorithms to judge the effectiveness of subject lines. Test several subject lines on a small segment.  Use the winning subject line for your full database.

My shower gifts now give the bride a reason to open them first.

I bypass the generic wrapping paper and head for the outrageous. For a couple that had recently rescued a puppy, I wrapped their shower gift in puppy paper complete with dog tags and bones for a bow.

The paper had nothing to do with the gift inside or the occasion, but it was unique, memorable, and stood out from the sea of silver and white swirly wrapping paper with purple bows.

Know your audience and respect their time
Think about your recipients and their schedule. Narrow your focus down to one audience and one message specifically for them. Give them real value in the information you provide. Offer an Opt-In freebie such as a checklist or job aid.

Mail programs will often tell you that Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. is the best time to arrive in an inbox. However, if your target audience is a payroll clerk trying to get time cards calculated, Tuesday morning is the worst time.

With just a slight attitude adjustment, I have a renewed respect for the bride (the audience) and the occasion (their planning and effort). Wedding showers and parties are no longer an obligation; they are joyous occasions to celebrate. I clear my calendar. I rearrange activities to allow plenty of time. Sometimes I even buy a new outfit to celebrate right along with the bride.

Review and improve
I am a big fan of picking your measurement system BEFORE you execute. To me, it is too easy to play Monday morning quarterback and attribute results to something that just isn’t valid. Metrics can be overwhelming so I suggest choosing three to start. Start with Open Rate. Over time, your Open Rate should go up. The Click-Thru rate should also go up. The Opt-Out rate should go down.

What Are the Results?

The results from my gift-giving research are in and it is statistically significant. I’ve attended at least six gift-giving occasions since that fateful shower. I began being intentional, having a plan, thinking about the recipient, and giving them a reason. And guess what – my gift was opened first every single time.

I’d like to see this method work for your email campaigns as well. Try it and let me know.