How many emails do you get in a day? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? Marketers sent over 838 billion emails in 2013…and that’s not counting the messages you get from work and friends.

With so much demand for your attention, how do you decide which emails are worth your time? There’s a split second, almost instantaneous reaction in your brain that helps you decide. You may not even know it’s happening.

Your subscribers have the same split second reaction when deciding what to do with the messages you send them. How do you make sure they’re reading instead of deleting?

First, you need to understand the different types of email users on your list. Most of us fall into one of these five types, or some combination:

  1. The Delete-a-nator
  2. The Prioritizer
  3. The Over-Opener
  4. Super Slacker
  5. Mister Mobile

Each type wants something different out of their email experience, so you have to make sure you’re meeting all of their various needs in every (yes, every!) email you send. Let’s meet these folks and learn how to hack your emails accordingly.

Type #1: The Delete-a-nator

Who are they?

Sounds like someone didn’t tell the Delete-a-nator how important email marketing is, because they’ve got an itchy trigger finger that’s ready to delete your email for the smallest reason – or no reason at all. Whether they’re paranoid, they “hate advertising,” or they think your email is spam, they’re an impenetrable fortress of email exclusivity, and you’ll have to fight your way in.

Fast facts:

  • Across 5 million users, MailChimp’s average open rate is about 20%. This means about 80% of marketers’ emails are ignored: bounced, unopened, archived or deleted. 80%! There’s a sea of Delete-a-nators out there for you to contend with…so get ready.

Optimize:

Defeating the Delete-a-nator is all about catching their attention and proving that you’re worth their attention.

According to Salesforce, 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone, and Delete-a-nators are no exception. You need a killer subject line, every time, to entice them.

You subject line should:

  • Clearly explain the content of the email or spotlight its value
  • Be between 6-10 words or less than 50 characters
  • Include the reader’s first name to increase the open rate by around 22%
  • Use a strong verb
  • Include digits (“5 types of people who read your emails”)
  • When pertinent, use these words:
    • Daily
    • Weekly
    • Sale
    • How to

Your subject line should NOT::

  • Be vague or mysterious
  • USE ALL CAPS or cr@zy $ymbol$ or exclamation points!!!
  • Use these words:
    • Free
    • Save
    • Buy
    • Help
    • Reminder
    • Monthly

These are guidelines for you to start with based on other companies’ research, but you should do your own testing to see how your audience responds. Always send an email with at least two subject lines so you can see which performs better and learn from the results.

Type #2: The Prioritizer

Who are they?

The Prioritizer is an efficiency machine. Read, archive, save for later, forward, reply, delete: whatever their response, they love to take action. The Prioritizer has lots of folders for keeping things neat and organized, and they celebrate when their is inbox empty (although it rarely is, because they have so many emails in play). Hacks and apps help them maximize their day. They thrive on getting things done, and see every new email as something to conquer.

Fast facts:

  • It’s super important for Prioritizers to be able to control their email.
  • Gmail’s Priority Inbox automatically separates personal, social, and promotional emails, and has resulted in a noticeable decline of opened marketing emails among its users.
  • 70% of Outlook customers said that it was important that ads don’t interfere with their email experience, and 69% said it was important that their email service offer advanced spam filters.

Optimize:

With so many emails to organize, the Prioritizer only has time for the best of the best. It’s vital that your emails deliver consistently, so you can build long-term trust that will move you slowly from their mental category of “archive” to the category of “open, read, take action.”

A few ways to accomplish this:

Adjust the sender name on your email list from your company to your personal name, first and last. Prioritizers value emails with human names attached more than company names. It will also help you stand out from the crowd if your email has been automatically assigned to a promotions/marketing folder amidst other businesses.

Show value in the subject line. No tricks, no click-baiting: those are red flags to the Prioritizer. Be straightforward and engaging about the content of the email so they’ll understand how it will benefit them and they can be assured you won’t waste their time.

Hook them with your pre-header. This little line of copy that sometimes appears when you preview an email is the most overlooked and underappreciated email marketing real estate. Think of it as a second chance at a first impression. If your Prioritizer didn’t get pulled in by the subject line, they might be pulled in by your pre-header. One way to really make it sing: use their first name.

Once the Prioritizer clicks to read more, make sure your email delivers. If it doesn’t, you’ve lost their trust – maybe forever.

Type #3: The Over-Opener

Who are they?

The Over-Opener has the opposite problem as the Delete-a-nator and the Prioritizer. They open everything without discrimination, either because they have “fear of missing out” or they don’t know any better. They’re the kind of person who forwards you crazy emails or shares ridiculous posts on Facebook. They may not know how to say “no,” and easily become overwhelmed. Although the over-opener is a rare breed and great for your open rate, you’ll have to be extremely clear about what you want them to do next.

Fast facts:

  • Yup, there are people out there who open everything, even unwanted or unsolicited stuff. Surprisingly, 46% of email users in a 2010 survey admitted to opening spam, and 11% had actually clicked on a link within a spam email.

Optimize:

What’s inside your email? You know the Over-opener is going to read it, so you have to make the content count.

First, write the kind of email you’d want to get. Make it engaging. Make it friendly. Make it sound like it’s coming from a human being and not the Marketing-Bot 5000™. It helps to write as if you’re talking to one person, not “the list.” Grab a mental image of someone cool you know and start typing.

Prioritize the information from most to least important. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many marketers love a good, cinematic build up to the most important point at the very end of their emails.

All of the content in your email should be helpful, interesting, brief and clear. If it’s not one of those things, delete it or rework it. Otherwise, you’ll lose your captive reader.

CTAs are everything! Make sure your call to action is big, bold and colorful. Use language that makes sense. Your Over-opener desperately wants to be told what to do next: don’t leave them hanging!

Type #4: Super Slacker

Who are they?

The Super Slacker opted in to your list, or maybe even purchased a product, but isn’t interested anymore. And they’re too lazy to do anything about it! They’re a little slow on the technology uptake. They’ve never taken the time to unsubscribe from anything, the last time they updated their Internet Explorer was in 2009, and they’re still rocking that AOL email address with pride. Their inbox is perpetually overflowing, full of messages that sit unopened for months…even years. Someday, they’ll get their act together!

Fast facts:

  • Super Slackers are everywhere. There are more than you’d think…
  • Almost half of subscribers are inactive on an any given email list.
  • Open rates diminish the longer someone sits on your list, decreasing between 35-45% in the two years after a subscriber signs up.

Optimize:

You’ll really have to work to get your Super Slackers back on track.

Once or twice a year, audit your email list and identify users who haven’t opened an email from you in over a year. Pull them out of your regular list and put them on an Inactive list.

Then, send your Inactive list three emails:

#1 – Motivate them with an offer or engaging content just for them. Use their first name! If they open the email, put them back on your regular list.

#2 – Try to find out why they aren’t engaging anymore. Be upfront in the subject line – maybe something like: “You haven’t opened an email from us in over a year. We’d love to know why.” Then link them to a short survey to find out their opinions. Take their survey results into account before deciding whether to put them back on the regular list. You may find they’re still very interested, or not interested at all.

#3 – Let them know you’ll be taking them off your list soon. Use their first name again, and give them one last chance to let you know if they’d like to remain on the list.

Then, if your Super Slackers really as lazy as they seem, take them off the list and focus on your more active customers.

Type #5: Mister Mobile

Who are they?

Mister Mobile is always on the go. In addition to his desktop and laptop computers, he has a smartphone, a tablet, and (sometimes) an e-reader. He loves the flexibility of technology and hates being out of the loop, even at night and on weekends. He uses each device for different things, so you may find him reading work emails on his phone but not responding to them until he’s at his desk. He’s super savvy, sometimes even a know-it-all, which means he can be a difficult customer to please.

Fun facts:

  • As technology becomes more pervasive and accessible wherever you go, you’ll meet more and more Mister Mobiles. He’s the wave of the future.
  • 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices. And that number continues to climb.
  • 75% of mobile users are highly likely to delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile.

Optimize:

Your emails MUST be mobile optimized. There’s just no excuse these days!

Select a responsive email template that will automatically adjust to your reader’s screen size. Services like MailChimp or Aweber already offer responsive templates, all you need to do is pick your favorite.

If you’re designing your own template, design with mobile in mind.

  • Use a single-column layout.
  • Include images, but reduce the file size so that your email is around 60KB.
  • Always use a readable font size.
  • Your CTA buttons should be easily clickable no matter what device Mister Mobile is on.

So, which email type are you?

Are you a paranoid Delete-a-nator, an uber-organized Prioritizer, an overwhelmed Over-Opener, a lazy Super Slacker, or an on-the-go Mister Mobile?

Every email list is populated by all five types, so it’s important you know them, understand them, and love them all. Optimize your emails to accommodate each of their quirks, and you’ll see your open rates and email engagement skyrocket. Way to email!

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