Trick or Treat – 4 Steps to Open the Door

Dark room, door with light coming through

With all the ominous talk of ad blockers and the growing ways for users to dilute the torrent of emails flooding through each day, you could be generating quality content for nothing – if your audience doesn’t open the door.

So how do you get your email marketing under your audiences’ noses?

To email unwanted, irrelevant content to your users is a quick step towards unsubscribes, low open rates and being marked as spam. Manage your data and plan out who to email as part of each campaign.

Your Mailing List

Generate your list through individuals and companies you have had genuine contact with or have been collated through your lead generation efforts. Keep this list fresh. If you send to old or bought lists you are likely to be marked as spam, which will damage your reputation and affect your email deliverability.

Are there any contacts that have never opened an email? Try a couple of different approaches with them and if you still have no joy, remove them from your list.

Segment your data; define groups to send specific messaging to so the content will be relevant to them.


By understanding your audience you can be predictive with timing. When are your users most likely to think about or need your product or service? Understand the buy-cycles of your audience and plan campaigns accordingly.

Look at best practice for the days and times to send emails, both generally and in your sector. Note when users read your previous campaign and tweak your timings accordingly.

Before you can vie for a users attention you need to get pass email spam filters. Here are a few things spam filters look out for.

AVOID USING ALL CAPITALS IN YOUR SUBJECT LINE – filters look out for this and it is also brash. Other triggers include ****repeating characters****, consecutive numbers 238649, num3er and l3tter mixing and the amount of punctuation!!!!

There are also ‘danger’ words, which will trigger spam filters. ‘Free’ is an example word. The list is always evolving but there are many example word lists out there to give you an idea. Look for alternative phrasing – such as ‘Freebie’ instead of ‘Free’. One of these words won’t necessarily send you to the spam box but it’s about the number/ratio/combination of usage.

You planned your campaign and dodged past the spam filters to land in your users inbox. Now to engage your audience with a clear and concise subject line:

  • Don’t use the same format every time – balance consistency with some spontaneity
  • A/B test – try out different approaches and see how your audience reacts
  • Focus your subject line on what your audience will learn
  • Keep it short – 50 characters or less

Email inboxes are crowded.

To increase the chance of reaching the audience you need to communicate across a wide range of channels. It might feel like you’ve gone back 10 years but direct mail is still worth including as part of your marketing strategy.

Like email marketing, the quality of your list is key especially with the higher costs. Carefully select the recipients of your campaign and make sure you have up-to-date data.

The quality of the print is important too; this is a method for key contacts so spend on quality rather than quantity.

Use your email marketing first to inform your approach. Test out your messaging and offer through email and apply the most successful elements to your direct mail campaign.

Always include a clear offer or call-to-action and integrate with systems to track ROI – number tracking, specific URL’s for the campaign etc.