3 Steps to ensure your emails get read everytime!

No one likes to be ignored. Try these tips and find your communications being read more times than the morning paper!

Dear Friend.

I bet you remember this as being one of the most overused beginnings in the spam which began to flood our inboxes in the early 2000s.

If you were too young to remember this then don’t worry – you weren’t missing much! However what your real worry should be is how far do you want to be promoted – as through ongoing experimentation with these tips you just might find yourself reaching key decision makers more often, making more product sales or perhaps increasing user engagement to never before seen heights.

Before I reveal these three points, we first of all need to explore why taking steps to increase your email open rates is so important in the age in which we live.

Where does email fit in today’s society?


Before phones and the internet there were a number of methods we as humans used to communicate. Smoke signals, yodelling,  the ever dependable two cans on a string method. A personal favourite of mine was the carrier pigeon – fast, reliable – especially when well-fed but ultimately vulnerable to high winds, enemy arrows and hungry French citizens.

In modern society, postal mail outshone all other forms of communication until the development of the telegram by Samuel Morse (of the famous Morse Code) in the early 1800s, with the development of the radio and the telephone approximately fifty years later. It wasn’t until the post-war period that forms of instantaneous communication became more affordable in the family home – with the eighties finally seeing an emergence of new hand-held technologies which revolutionised the way we as humans share ideas.

The reason I have shared the above is that being able to reach individuals instantly via technology is only something that has existed in the mainstream since slightly before the new millennium. Therefore the way in which to communicate most effectively is not written in stone but is an evolving science – which makes this article even more relevant! Similarly, given that we are able to reach people anywhere, at any time it is a privilege that is not to be taken lightly – with misuse of that opportunity resulting in one thing – loss of a reader.

In fact,  given the frequency of communications, as highlighted by Telefonica Research, we only have limited opportunities to get it right. The average mobile phone user receives 63.5 notifications per day – a mixture of SMS messages, push notifications and email messages. Of these emails are the most preferred method of communication behind SMS and with more and more being sent and received year on year, the chances of your communication slipping through are growing higher and higher. In fact – if you take the chance to look at your Iphone or Android inbox – chances are you will have over 100 unread emails, if not you might not be working hard enough J

With this in mind, in order to be stand out in a sea of communications with a multitude of different tones, the steps below can really make a difference in trying to help you break through and assist you in making sure your emails continue to get read!

Terminology Guide


Just to make sure we are on the same page here are a few helpful words and phrases to do with sending emails:

Auto-responder – An email which is sent automatically by the system as a result of something a user does i.e. visits your sales page

Open rate- Refers to what percentage of your emails actually get opened

Opt-in – When a person asks to receive on-going communication from you or your organisation, usually by completing a form or ticking a box

Subscriber base – Refers to how many people have elected to receive your emails

Step 1 – Make your First Email Count

Too often we receive mediocre responses that kill our reputation of our brand or enthusiasm for a product or service. Similarly, if the person sending them email seems boring, the likelihood of us wanting to talk to them again severely diminishes.

The number one place where companies ruin this is by using a generic auto-responder when someone completes an opt-in or signs up for a good or service by thanking them with a default template!

For an individual it usually goes wrong when you send something to the effect of the below – bland, boring and generic –

Example 1– “Hi Jim, my name is Dailius from Company X. I saw you on Linkedin and wanted to talk to you about using your solution at Company Y. When is a good time to chat?”

Here are some ways to leave a lasting impact and to really allow your message to reach the person you want to speak too:

Understand your technology – If you are using a platform to organise and deliver your email sends like aWeber, Mailchimp or Marketo – take a moment to understand the features and limitations of what you are using! Also take a look at the default settings – as there may be modifications you can make to deliver more of a unique experience.

Position over Profit – In your first response, try clearly positioning your values and present yourself as an individual or company which has an active interest in the specific situation of the reader rather than pushing your own agenda. Mentioning money or things to buy can put you on the back foot so I have found offering an invitation to friendship is something that is especially effective. You may find that if a reader immediately finds your communication sincere and relatable – they are more likely to absorb and engage with your message. For instance :

Example 2 – “Jim I really wanted to find more about the potential problems you are facing with your customers as something I really believe in is making customer/business relationships as smooth as possible! Even if we don’t find the solution straight away I would love to perhaps maintain an ongoing friendship as I’m sure there is a lot we can learn from each other!”

Giving over Taking – To immediately win favour with your audience – offer your time or a bonus gift to improve their current situation and win their trust from the outset. I often find that offering 30 minutes to go through common industry questions or a free e-book are two easy ways to create a reason for further communication.

Leave an Impact – Your first communication is the first and perhaps only chance to impress your audience, therefore make sure you are remembered. I find that most people are expecting generic responses so by doing the exact opposite you can influence your audience enough to warrant further attention in the future. I find humour, striking testimonials or creative graphics are all three easy ways to take your first communication to the next level! An easy way  to test if this is the case is to send your test email to someone outside your industry without any pre-questions and then ask them a week later about the subject material!

Short, Sweet & Simple – Ideally you don’t want to overload your new audience with too much information – so by keeping your email on the shorter side you may reduce this risk substantially! Also, if a reader initially finds your communications on the longer side – the chance of them reopening further communications faces may be reduced. I was always told that if I gave the email to a 10 year old child and they didn’t understand the content then I was making a mistake – try this for yourself!

If you are going to Automise, then Customise! – If you are faced with a situation where you don’t have the resources or are overloaded with the amount of emails requiring attention – then automisation may be a necessary evil. However this doesn’t have to be a bad thing – evil may become Evil Knievel, groundbreaking and amazing! If you take the time to ensure that your first email incorporates as many variables about a person as you can (most programs call these Custom Fields or Merge Tags) you can almost get away with seeming like a real person!  Also don’t be afraid to remove styling completely and replace the footer with the words Sent from my Iphone – a secret trick of me which gets maximum results!


Step 2: Experiment with the Subject Line


The next point is to try and use the subject line to your advantage! This is the first thing the reader sees in their inbox and if you grab their attention straight away almost all of the work is already done. With this in mind I have a few points which may help you create a winning subject line!

Personalise – The most successful subject lines I have seen often include information that you already know about the reader, most commonly their first name. People like the sound of their own name and a subject line like this stands out compared to the standard titles present in their inbox.

Example 3: Subject Line – Jim, how would you like to see your profits increase 3x vs See Your Profits increase 3x

Think About Length:  Roughly 3 in 5 people are now checking their email first on a mobile device, where lengthy subject lines are not as viewable. As I result, I like to design my email subject lines assuming that a mobile device is being used. According to Mass Transmit, the Iphone 5 currently only allows a subject line length of 38 characters in portrait mode (holding it normally) – so keep this in mind when crafting your masterpiece.

If you are automating, then say so – A breakthrough I discovered in crafting my own sends is that my customers often respect me more if I am transparent in relation to which emails are hand-written versus automated.  In my first emails – I now make a habit of declaring which emails readers should expect in the future based on their interpretation of the subject line! I explain the following simply in my first message and use the following format in the first characters of the subject line in all future mails –

[HAND] – Present for all hand-written emails written by me

[READ] – Present for automated emails I think the reader should make the time to read

[AUTO] – Present for less important automated emails i.e. payment receipt, reminders e.t.c

Example 4: Subject Line – [HAND] How, Jim I want to help with Sales

Use my Secrets – Try adding these to the front of the subject line to generate a bit more interest. Attn: , Urgent: , and especially RE: can be very effective. In particular RE: comes across as if a reader has already sent you an email at some point in the past

Consider emoji – It has been increasingly common for people to include emoji in their email to break through the boring world that is the email inbox. Tread with caution as some browsers and email clients struggle to display these – for more information this post from is extremely helpful!

Step 3: Test and keep testing


The final point I have to offer is that experimenting with all of the suggestions above is going to generate hundreds of different combinations for your first email send to a new contact. Rather than rolling out all of these changes in one go,  you can see for yourself how much each of the above suggestions contribute individually to an improvement by rolling out some of the points above sequentially and measuring results.

To do this, I recommend using programs like InfusionSoft or Mailchimp even for regular sends – just to refine your approach. Track your open rate, click through rate and other facts by running A/B tests for things you want to change (sends two versions of an email to groups of equal size)

If you have any other feedback – please get in touch with me via the comments below as we would love to hear any tips and tricks you have!

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube

  • Dominic Rohde

    Have been reading your blogs, while not in sales or marketing myself your insights are very clever and I could definitely see the value of using many of your tips. I can follow your personal experiences while reading the article – its like you’re bringing me along, really great stuff!

    • Wolf of York Street

      Thank you so much Dom – never saw this until now!