Brands that want to reach customers in their inboxes can't be strangers - they need to produce relevant resources for users who want content, whether they realize it or not.

Of all the materials content marketers create, the margins of success might be narrowest when it comes to email. Unlike web content or social posts, which stay online and can be repurposed and promoted over and over again, emails are either opened, deleted or forgotten. So it’s important to manage the many factors that affect the likelihood of email opens and clicks – but what are they?

Campaigner conducted a poll of the reasons that caused prospects to either read inbox messages or ignore them. It turns out emails are like blog posts, news stories and social media: They have to be relevant.

 For 40 percent of respondents, personal relevance was the single biggest factor that determined if an email was read. It doesn’t matter how good the design or copy of an email is – if it doesn’t apply to prospects, they’ll delete it. Other reasons for ignoring mail include incompatibility with mobile devices (17 percent) and too much text that isn’t easy to ready (22 percent).

Familiar companies get email opens

At this point, marketers might be thinking they ONLY send relevant emails – so what are they supposed to do? If that’s the case, there are some best practices to consider.

For example, Campaigner also looked at the positive factors correlated with emails that were read. One of the most important is familiarity. According to 42 percent of customers, if they recognize the brand that’s sending a promotional message, they’re a lot more likely to look at it.  

Companies also tend to see higher open rates when they craft subject lines clearly communicating value or deals and messages prospects actually read. This is backed up by a recent Brafton article that talked about the importance of language used on web forms.

When visitors sign up for email correspondence that has a clear value – more content, free expertise or even savings on products or services – they’re more likely to establish a relationship. Content marketing is akin to giving away free samples, and this philosophy needs to be applied in every step along the way, from web copy that acts as a resource to form requests to email messages.

Want to learn more about email marketing? Check out these related Brafton resources:

Email marketing is the best way to reach affluent buyers online
For best ROI, brands should invest in email marketing [research]
Users bounce between devices to follow content [study]


Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.