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  • Writer's pictureTony

What is the prime factor in influencing the success of an email?

Since email marketing first began in earnest some 20 years ago, there has been much emphasis on the quality of email lists (are the addresses of named people or just organisational addresses?) and technical trickery (such as addressing the recipient by name?)

It took many years for research to be undertaken into whether such factors were indeed the prime influencers on response rates. In the case of the former, the answer was yes – addressing named people was always better than sending emails to organisations.

But in terms of the latter, evidence was rarely forthcoming, and indeed some digital trickery such as addressing the individual by name in the text of the email, could quite often actually reduce response rates.

Meanwhile one area was found to have a tremendous impact on the response rate that could be attained. In fact a far bigger response than any other factor. And this was the way the email was written, and laid out.

It is a complicated subject and not something we can deal with on one page (indeed one of our directors has recently published a whole book on the subject) . But here is a starting point.

In essence there are five main ways of presenting an email:

1. By announcing the product or service for sale from the start.

2. By mentioning a discount or special offer immediately.

3. By talking about the benefits of the product.

4. By asking an interesting, open question.

5. By being deliberately quirky or “odd”.

What makes that list so interesting is that from 1 to 5 it shows the most common approaches to email writing, in descending order. By far the most common approach is telling the reader what one is selling (“announcing the product or service”). By far the least common approach is being deliberately quirky or odd.

But at the same time this list also shows the ways of approaching an email, in the order of success. Except the most successful approach is the quirky (point 5) and the least successful is “By announcing the product or service”.

Thus the most common approach is the least successful – and vice versa!

This is why places such an emphasis on the way emails are written. And it is why we offer a free consultation on this subject. Just send in a copy of your email and we will produce, free of charge, a report outlining any ways in which we would suggest changing it in order to obtain higher response rates. To find out more just call 01604 880 927 or email

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