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Analyzing 10,000+ Emails: Reasons Why I Open (& Don't Open) Emails

By SEO Staff Writer

177362799_-_email_marketing.jpgI recently looked back at every marketing email I received in the last year and a half, which amounted to over 10,000 emails.

I didn’t include emails that I was expecting or any type of communication that I had with a company, I only looked at marketing emails.

The reason I did this was because I wanted to see why I opened certain emails and why I don’t open other emails.

Many businesses use email marketing, but without doing further research, you won’t understand why certain emails perform well, while others don’t. I encourage businesses to do the same to see what attracted them to open certain emails. Getting this insight will allow you to see areas where you can improve your own email marketing.


Reasons I Opened an Email:

There were several reasons why I actually opened emails, here’s a rundown on what motivated me to open certain emails:


It Interested Me

Not everyone is going to open your emails, because people are interested in different things. Most of the marketing emails I opened, I found interesting, which is why I opened them. That’s why it’s better to segment email marketing lists. If I show interest in a small business bank loan, that bank should send me content that will make me feel comfortable getting a loan with them. Knowing what a person is interested in, and offering unique and relevant content will help you stand out.


I Knew the Person Sending the Email

If I personally knew someone, and they sent me an email for the first time, I always opened it. Utilizing the people that you have connections with is a good opportunity when it comes to email marketing. However, you can’t just send these people generic marketing emails, where it’s clear that you sent the same email to everyone. I received a lot of these emails, which doesn’t make me want to open any other emails you send. The best way to utilize these connections is to have a real conversation with them and ask for their opinion. Otherwise, you’re not providing a real reason for them to engage with your brand.


They Consistently Offer Great Content

I realized it didn’t matter who was sending me an email, it mattered what they were offering. If you’re offering average content, you can expect to receive average results from your email marketing efforts. Your emails need to offer something so extraordinary that people are willing to take the time to read more into it. I realized that there were only two people that I could consistently expect interesting emails from, but I continually open their emails because I can expect them to offer something useful.


Non-Generic Subject Lines

Below are a few examples of subject lines that sparked my interest:

  • 5,219% ROI from new traffic source
  • A chance to win a car from SEFCU
  • Up to 70% off shoes & accessories – two days left.
  • Want even more free rides from Uber?
  • [FREE Training] The Perfect Sales Sequence
  • Got wanderlust? 9 emerging beautiful travel destinations

These subject lines aren’t something you see in your inbox every day, which is what makes them appealing. While I understand that you can’t always offer 70% off or a chance to win a car, you should want your headlines to be just as eye-catching.



Whether it’s a trend, something newsworthy that recently happened, or a holiday that’s coming up, sending timely emails is another way you can be successful with email marketing. Below are few ways that businesses captured my attention:

  • Starts now: Up to 60% off Labor Day Clearance Event

Holiday sales are always a good way for businesses to increase its profits, but the timing really helped. The company started its Labor Day clearance event two weeks before Labor Day, which gives shoppers plenty of time to look at deals.

  • Pokemon GO: 3 Marketing Mistakes, Millions of Users Lost!

Pokemon GO became a huge deal this past July, but you quickly started to hear about the game less and less. At the beginning of August, I received this email, which I thought was a great example of how a company was able to capitalize on a trend and relate it to their own industry.

  • Ghostbusters is Trending on Facebook

Facebook is always sending out emails about what’s currently trending, which can be a great source of news. At the time, I didn’t even know Ghostbusters was making another movie, so when the trailer was released, it was a great way for me to find out about the new movie. It’s also a way for Facebook to pull people back to their app.


Reasons I Didn’t Open an Email:

I get a lot of emails every day, but I rarely open an email. That’s because a lot of the emails in my inbox are junk or they don’t offer anything I’d be interested in. So I tried to consider a couple other reasons why I didn’t open an email, and here are the reasons I came up with.


Nagging Follow-Up Emails

Everyone’s received these kind of emails. They could be a hotel asking you how your experience was, a free trial that recently ended, or a car salesman asking if you’re still interested. These kind of emails are hardly ever successful because they’re not unique and they don’t help solve a customer’s problem.

When I was looking for a new car, I had given my email to a car salesman, and all he did was email me every day, asking me “still interested?” or “still in the market?”

Yes, I was still looking for a car, but it was far from the best approach he could have used. I would have been much more inclined to open his emails if the subject read “10 Other Cars You Might Be Interested In.” Too often, businesses take a lazy approach to their marketing. The car salesman new my price range that I was looking at and very easily could have gathered a list of emails to send to me. Instead, he didn’t offer anything for me.


Awful Subject Lines

Below are a few examples from only the last few days, of emails that I didn’t open because the subject line wasn’t good.

  • Your vacation
  • Kumbaya
  • Invite: Discover opportunities all around you…
  • You’ve never heard of this?
  • Check Out Our New Store

Emails that have generic and/or confusing subject lines are not unique and they don’t offer a good enough reason for me to want to spend my time reading what you’re offering. If a business isn’t going to spend the time to create an appealing subject line, it’s probably because they’re not offering anything that great.


Want to Improve Your Email Marketing?

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