I get a lot of email and am not able to read or open every message, especially during the holiday season. And I think it’s safe to say I am not alone.

The emails I do open are ones that effectively catch my attention amid all the holiday clutter, and entice me.

More email means more competition for your small business or nonprofit, which means it is more important than ever to stand out and have a compelling reason for your audience to take the time to open and engage with your email.

If you want me, or anybody else, to open your email messages during the inbox battle of 2019, make sure you to avoid these 3 too common mistakes:

1. Discount only. 

Yes, subject lines with a discount offer typically achieve a higher open rate, and because of that many people promote that in their subject lines. But even if you’re able to offer the highest discount, it will still get lost in the masses of percent-off and free shipping offers. Now, I am not saying don’t offer a discount. What I am saying is don’t only offer a discount. Be creative! Instead of saying “70% off,” try “A generous offer from…” That way you are piquing your audience’s curiosity and enticing them to open the email to see what the generous offer is.

Another creative way to incorporate a discount is by playing up the other benefits of your email. Try “Top 10 Last-Minute Gifts, plus free shipping.” That way you are differentiating yourself from the masses by adding value to your email.

2. It’s all about you.

This might be hard to hear, but email marketing is not all about you. It’s about the person you are sending to. When I am scrolling through the inbox, my first thought isn’t you or your organization. It’s me. Too often I see, “Please take our survey.” No! Why should I? Why should I waste my time filling out a survey for you? But, just a few changes can go along way. I’d be much more inclined to respond to a survey that said, “Please share your feedback to improve your experience.” Taking the time to see from your audience’s perspective will set you apart during the holidays, and year-round.

3. Too long.

Your subject line needs to be less than 50 characters or it will get cut off, and it needs to be even shorter if you actually want your customers to read it. I know it’s difficult to keep subject lines succinct, but it’s necessary. Shorter subject lines outperform longer subject lines because people just don’t have the time to indulge your wordiness.

And let’s not forget our friends using smartphones. Smartphone inboxes rarely display more than 15 characters. Subject lines with only 4 to 15 characters generate the highest open rate. So when you are writing your next subject line, keep crammed inboxes and smartphone users in mind, and keep it short!

The Point.

Getting your emails opened is an important first step in engaging your customers and maintaining a loyal customer base. Make sure to keep these three factors in mind and you’ll see great success!

Editor’s Note: Originally posted in 2011 this article was updated for relevance and accuracy on November 15, 2019.

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