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How to get immediate response to your e-mails

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Question: How do I get more people to respond "right now" to the e-mail campaigns I send?

Answer: There's nothing like the cha-ching of clicks, orders and activity on your latest campaign. But how do you inspire your readers to act now instead of relegating your e-mail to the dreaded When-I-Get-Around-to-It bin? Here are four quick tips:

Send when they're ready. It's 9 p.m. and your big campaign is finally ready. But are your readers in a position to respond if you send now? Think carefully about your timing and aim for a window when recipients are likely to be ready, willing and, well, awake.

Give them a sense of urgency. Subject lines are king these days, so craft one that gives your readers a deadline. Do I need to respond today? Is this my last chance? Will someone turn into a pumpkin at midnight? Let e-mail procrastinators know the buck (or at least the offer) stops here.

Tell them what you want them to do. Senders sometimes lament the fact that no one clicked but, looking at the e-mail, it's not clear they ever wanted anyone to click. Whatever your goal is—pushing people to the site, encouraging event sign-ups or selling your latest tropical-themed sweater collection—make sure your e-mail makes its intentions clear to everyone who reads it.

Let them do it near the top. In newspaper circles, they call it burying the lead. In e-mail circles, let's call it burying the link. If there's something you want your readers to do, have them do it near the top of your e-mail. Wait until the end of the story to invite them over and you may end up being the only one at the party. Please don't drink all the punch.

Clint Smith is a co-founder of Emma (www.myemma.com), a Web-based e-mail marketing and communications service.

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