Of the nearly 200 billion emails sent every day worldwide, 84% are considered spam.

That’s 168 billion emails . . . disregarded. You might be tempted to think that just applies to marketing emails. But you’d be wrong. A full 55% of all email users admit that they don’t open and read messages regularly–whether business or personal.  Email interactions are shifting entirely.

In fact, according to a recent GetResponse study, 41% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device. Even more shocking, according to that same study, 42% of users delete emails that don’t display correctly their mobile phones.

That’s nearly half of your emails . . . getting dumped directly into the trash. So how do you make sure the sales emails you send aren’t part of those? Here we’ve put together 26 simple steps to make sure people don’t just read your emails, but actually respond to them.

1. A Personal Tone

Forget memos, company-wide lists, and (worst of all) “To whom it may concern”, personalizing your emails is a proven strategy to boost your click-through-rate. Impersonal email intros come off as old fashioned – Ultimately, it sends the wrong message. Before you even start an email, make sure you do your research and have a good idea of who the recipient is.

This is an amazing example from crazy egg

Send emails directly to the people who you need action from. Always address your emails to a real person . . . and always make it from a real person, you!

2. Use a Person’s Real Name

Send your email from a real person, not your company. When you send email from a real person, your email open rate increases. Plain and simple. This is because recipients are typically more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one.

Credit: Yesware

People are so inundated with spam nowadays, they often hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders. They’re also more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one.

So, Francis, from IrokoTV is better than From IrokoTV.

3. Be concise and direct

The percentage of emails that get opened on mobile varies widely by industry, but it’s at least a third of emails across the board (source). Keep your emails as short and to the point as possible to increase the chances that your prospect reads the whole thing. The average adult has an attention span of 8.25 seconds — keep that in mind while you write your sales emails.

Another reason to keep your emails short? Too much copy is actually a red flag for spam filters, too.

To keep your emails short and compelling, write your email like you were talking to someone in real life. If your email has to be on the long side, break it up into multiple paragraphs to provide visual breaks. This’ll make skimming it much easier on your reader.

4. Spell check

There’s no faster way to look unprofessional than to make a silly spelling error. Choose an email app that checks your spelling automatically, no matter what language you’re writing in.

5. Send at the right time

Messages should go out when you want them to be read, not when you’re done writing. An email app with send later features built in let you write whenever it’s convenient, then schedule messages to send when your prospects are most likely to open them.

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Here’s how Mailchimp works..

Peak open hours are 10am-12pm on weekdays, with the highest open rates occurring Monday through Wednesday (source).

6. Take it easy on the formatting

Highly designed emails look like marketing spam to many recipients. Go easy on the buttons, images, and multi-column layout to increase the chances that your message gets read in its entirety.

This image from Econsultancy doesn’t look too good

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7. A signature

Include a phone number, social links, and your company’s URL — but not your email address (it’s redundant).

Consider adding a single line of text with 2–3 links to your best case studies (and make sure you track links so you can see which prospects are clicking through!).

8. Urgency in your subject line

Your goal is to motivate the prospect to take action immediately — but be careful that you don’t imply that the message has an expiration date. If the recipient thinks an email is outdated, they’ll delete it without opening.

9. Avoid spam flag words

Using words like free, limited time offer, and hurry in your subject line increases the likelihood that your message will get tagged as spam.

If your open rates aren’t as high as you’d like, double check that your subject lines aren’t preventing you from getting to the inbox in the first place.

10. Clear and clickable subject lines

Your marketing emails have a lot to compete with in recipients’ inboxes. The best way to stand out is to write compelling, “can’t-help-but-click-on-this” subject lines.

To entice readers to click, be sure your subject lines:

  • Are super clear and understandable.
  • Are fewer than 50 characters so they don’t get cut off, particularly by mobile devices.
  • Use language and messaging that your target buyer persona is familiar with and excited about.
  • Use verbs and action-oriented language to create a sense of urgency and excitement.
  • Include an exclusive value proposition (like a 20% off deal or a free ebook) so people know what they’re getting.
  • Include their first names sometimes (it could increase clickthrough rates), or even add something about their specific location. (You’ll want to do this sparingly, like for your most important offers, rather than over-doing it and being repetitive or intrusive).

11. Short Subject line

Make sure your subject lines top out around 50 characters. Any longer than that and they’ll likely get cut off in the inbox preview.

12. Preview text

Email clients like the iPhone Mail app, Gmail, and Outlook will display the first few lines of text from the body of your email alongside the subject line.

In other words, it’s a text preview of the content inside the email. The exact amount of text shown depends on the email client and user settings. Use it to provide a short, to-the-point synopsis of what you’re offering – and keep it to 50 characters or less.

When you don’t set the preview text, the client will automatically pull from the body of your email, which not only looks messy, but is also a wasted opportunity to engage your audience.

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13. Open with something about them, not something about you

Try congratulating your prospect on their company’s recent announcement, mentioning a mutual friend who suggested you get in touch, or complimenting a recent blog post they wrote.

14. Make sure the body of your message matches the promise of the subject line

If prospects open your message expecting one thing and you deliver something else, you’ve missed an opportunity to build trust. Offer value in your subject line, but don’t overpromise.

15. Empathy/Be Helpful

Yes, you’re trying to sell your company’s product or service — but that doesn’t mean much to a prospect who’s never met you and is about to have their day interrupted by your email.

Put yourself in his or her shoes. How can you help them? What problems can you solve for them? Lead with that. Share a tool or a blog post that might help them solve a problem. If you provide value, the prospect will remember you when they’re ready to buy your product.

16. Social proof

No one wants to be the first to try something, no matter how promising it sounds. Mention other customers who have gotten good results with your product to put your prospect’s mind at ease.

17. A simple, specific, low-effort call to action

Don’t make prospects work to figure out what the next step should be. For example, if your goal is to schedule a meeting, your should propose a few specific times to talk rather than asking the prospect to find an opening in their calendar.

Have a clear call-to-action button that’s easy to spot for even the quickest of email scanners. Without a CTA button, you won’t be calling on your recipients to take any action that actually benefits them – and the growth of your business. See this sample from Vision6.

You’ll want to place your CTA in a location where it’s easily visible and where it makes sense for someone to click on it. For example, you might put a CTA to download a free ebook in an email that describes new strategies for using your product.

18. Call-to-action buttons with alt text

Many email clients block images — including your CTA buttons — by default. That means a good chunk of your audience may not see your beautiful, optimized CTA. When you set an image’s alt text, though, you let recipients who can’t view images in their email know exactly where to click to complete the action.

You can either edit the alt text in your email tool’s rich text editor (just right-click the image and edit away), or you can manually enter it in the HTML editor of your email tool.

19. Linked images

Your ultimate goal in email marketing is to get people to click through to a web page. One way to increase the click through without littering the copy with links is to add a link to your images in the email.

You can simply click on the image and then use your email tool’s “Insert/Edit Link” option.

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20. Text links

In general, it’s a good idea to link to your featured offer in multiple places in addition to the clear and focused call-to-action button. In addition to your main CTAs and images, consider including a noticeable text link (or two) when applicable because having more links increases the opportunity for engagement.

One analysis found that linking a phrase with about 7-10 words is best for boosting clickthrough rate.

21. Alt text on all of your images

Again, a lot of email clients out there block images by default. In those cases, images won’t load unless the recipient clicks a button to show them or change their default settings. Adding alt text to your email images helps recipients understand your message — even if they can’t see the images right away.

22. No background images

Avoid background images, especially if your target buyers tend to use Outlook as an email client. Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, period. Given that Outlook is the sixth most-used email client with 7% of the market share — and that’s in total; your industry might have a lot more – it’s best to avoid using background images altogether.

23. Social sharing buttons

Increasing the number of people who see your link will increase the number of people who click on it. So, be sure to extend the life of your email by adding social sharing buttons.

Many email tools will come with templates that have built-in social sharing buttons that make it easy – just fill in the destination URL and you’re good to go. Please note that if you want to increase clicks, you should add sharing buttons, not follow buttons. The former will allow your email recipients to pass along the offer URL in your email to their followers. The latter will prompt them to Like, follow, or add your company social media channels. Choose accordingly.

24. A cleaned up plain-text version

Not every recipient is going to see the beautiful, HTML, rich-text version of your email. Some clients don’t support HTML-rich emails, while other times, a person may simply choose to only view messages in plain text. When you don’t optimize the plain-text version of your email, it will look like a warzone.

25. Unsubscribe option

You may not be aware of it, but there are laws regarding email marketing. CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) is an act that was passed in 2003. Essentially, it’s a law that establishes the rules for commercial email and commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them, and outlines the penalties incurred for those who violate the law.

The CAN-SPAM Act says your email must include a way for customers to opt out. You can go about this in a couple of ways. You can put the word “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of the email that is linked to an unsubscribe option so customers can click on it and remove their names from your list. Or your readers can hit reply and include Unsubscribe in the subject line.