Helping small business owners develop extraordinary businesses that really work for their customers, their employees, themselves and their families

Getting an email opened

Getting an email opened is the first challenge to getting your message through to a reader, like getting an envelope opened for direct mail promotions.

What does a reader look at when deciding whether to open an email?

Most might say the “subject”, but that usually comes in a distant second (although still critically important.)

The first consideration when deciding to open an email is the “from” line!


These days many of us receive dozens, sometimes hundreds(!) of emails. We just don’t have time to read them all or even open them all.

So we have to decide which emails are likely to include information that is important or interesting to us.

The first screening mechanism is deciding whether the email is coming from someone that we know and trust. Marketing guru Dan Kennedy calls these trusted sources “welcome guests”.

If you see an email from Grandma, your boss, or a client that represents a lot of business, you’re going to open it.

You also have trusted relationships with certain vendors and associates, so you are likely to open their emails.

The “subject” can be a secondary screening consideration. Is the message about something that needs immediate attention? Again, this is especially important to a reader when time is tight.

The “from” screen is an important consideration when renting or buying an email list for a “cold” email blast. The recipient doesn’t know you. He or she will probably consider your message to be spam — an unwanted commercial message. DELETE!!

When you send an email, you want to be seen as a “welcome guest”, not an “unwelcome pest”!

Avoid sending messages to people who haven’t given their consent first.

One way to do this is with an opt-in to some sort of a paid (advertised) or unpaid offer.

Another is to have someone else send your message with their endorsement. That’s the value of affiliates and influencers. Depending on the lifetime value of a customer, it can be worth paying up to the initial selling price of an item to an affiliate or influencer who endorses your product or service. Sometimes these affiliate arrangements can be done on a mutual exchange basis, with no out-of-pocket cost.

When sending an email to members of a professional association, aren’t members more likely to open the email if its from the association than from someone they don’t know who rented their list? Maybe you can make a mutually-beneficial arrangement with the association. (Don’t insurance companies do this all of the time?)

Customers who have recently bought something from you are also likely to be receptive to receiving an email from you — provided what you sell is good. They should be open to learning what else you can offer to them.

When sending emails, be thoughtful about whether the recipients are likely to accept you as a “welcome guest”. When they see the “from” line, are they likely to give it a mental “okay” and open your email message?

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Helping small business owners develop extraordinary businesses that really work for their customers, their employees, themselves and their families