Why Isn't My E-Mail Being Opened?


You do everything right.  You send a weekly or monthly email newsletter to your clients and customers, When it comes to content, you’re sharing and writing great stuff.   But, your email is still not getting opened.  You feel like all you are doing is banging your head against a virtual wall with no results, and you have no idea why they won’t open it.

Every email you send falls into one of three categories:  Now.  Later.  Never.  (Thank you to Constant Contact for this information).  And for the most part, it is really just Now or LaterNever (thank you to Ellen Williams for this).  And we all want, and need,  is our e-mail to be opened now, since we all know that “laternever” really never happens. 

So how do we get our e-mail to fall into the NOW category?

2 — 2 — 2

A great method for writing better subject lines is to follow the 2 – 2 – 2 principle, which provides that you have 2 seconds before I decide to even pay attention to the e-mail.  You have only 2 words before the receiver decides to even read the rest of the subject line, and finally, you want them to take action today (2-day). 

This means that they are looking at only the first 2 words, and deciding within 2 seconds if they are going to take the required action today.  If it is something I, as the receiver, can put off, I will, and chances are I will never come back to it.

So, how do we get them to open?

Now that we are keeping our subject lines short and to the point, we need people to act.  But they won’t unless we tell them to.  We are always willing to do something when told, but the simple fact is that most businesses forget to tell their customers what they want or need (please share, please comment, please respond).  Without asking for these responses, people will just not respond.  As they always say, “ask, and you shall receive.”

In addition to asking your customers to take action, make sure that they feel that urgency in your voice.  I’m not saying that you should have “Act Now” within your subject line.  Only that your subject line should reflect some sense that the e-mail should be opened sooner rather than later (only 3 seats left for our seminar).

Your customer is also looking to you for more than offers and discounts.  If all you ever send is a coupon code or request to purchase, your customers will become immune to your e-mail, and may very well unsubscribe.  I had just such an experience myself.  I subscribed to the Old Navy Email, where they promise a Welcome Offer and an exclusive treat on my birthday.  However, I found I was getting an email from them almost every day, and every one of them was a discount.  Save XX on this and YY on that.  Nothing more.  They didn’t help me.  They even sent email for women’s clothing (I am very much NOT a woman).  So, after a few weeks, I did the unthinkable.  I unsubscribed.  Don’t let this happen to you. 

Most importantly, make the subject line relate to their needs.  If they want to hear from your company, it is because you are providing a value to them.  You are educating them.  Your subject line should reflect that.

We have just 2 seconds and 2 words to get our email opened today.  How are you going to change your subject lines to accomplish that?  What subject lines have worked for you?

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