Copywriting, Emails, Language, Psychology

5 ways to increase email open rates

Useless unless opened!

It’s very important to spend plenty of time making sure your email copy is as clear, targeted and emotionally triggering as possible before you let it loose on your list, but there is one element of every email that is by far much more important than any other…

The subject line.

If the subject line of your email is not effective enough, all that time and effort spent on the contents of the email is a complete and utter waste.

So what’s the purpose of a subject line and how can we get it to work as well as possible?

Ok, first of all, contrary to popular belief, a subject line is not there to tell readers what the email’s about.

I know this might seem counter-intuitive but let’s think for a second what our overall goal is by emailing our members in the first place: to sell of course.

And in order to sell to our list of members, we need to let them know how great whatever it is we’re selling actually is – that’s where your email comes in. The contents of your email are sales-driven (or at least should be!).

The subject line is the mechanism via which you get the reader to go from skimming his inbox to actually opening your email and learning all about your fab product or service and how it’s so great for him.

In short, your subject line is there to get your email opened.

So how do we do this?

There are a number of ways of increasing email open rates. Here are just 5…

1. Start with the member’s first name – eg. ‘John, this tourney’s for you…’

Why does this work? Well, think about it. Your own name does have a tendency to catch your eye!

This personalisation lets the reader know that you know him, so it’s less likely to be spam and more likely to result in the email being opened.

2. Trigger curiosity – eg. ‘John, have you seen this?’

The vague and teasing nature of a subject line like this triggers an emotional response that can be exceedingly difficult to overcome – curiosity.

If you can work some magic here, your open rates will soar!

3. Boost their ego – eg. ‘John, winners like you will love this…’

Nothing invites a little attention more than an ego massage.

And everyone loves to be complimented, making this approach effective, but ONLY if it’s done right.

4. Add a sense of urgency – eg. ‘John, you’ve got 2 hours left to register…’

No-one wants to miss out on something that might be important, and the ‘time running out’ approach can work rather well when used appropriately.

5. Use symbols – eg. ‘ John, you’re now registered for the tourney!’

(The  is meant to be a club card suit symbol, but it does illustrate an issue you may want to take into acccount, and that’s whether or not the symbol will show in most inboxes!)

Yep, 2012’s big subject line trend saw an increased use of symbols.

They aren’t too common yet (so try them before they’re everywhere and people get desensitised!) and as such are great eye-catchers.

Get these right and keep them appropriate for maximum eye-catching impact!

Remember, subject lines play a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of your email campaign.

Fail at the first hurdle of the subject line and you WILL fall flat on your face.

Dedicate some time to testing what works with your list to make sure your emails at least get opened!

Copywriting, Emails, Language, Psychology

Forget features, it’s benefits that sell!

Write in terms of benefits to reach your readers

Features v Benefits.

It might not sound like much, or like there’s much in it, but really, when it comes to writing effective copy, you have to be absolutely clear on the difference between the two.

For example…

You’ve just released a new version of your online casino software. You think it’s pretty awesome if you do say so yourself. I mean, look at this…

  • HD graphics
  • Digital surround sound
  • Widescreen
  • Custom lobby
  • Multiplay options
  • Tabbed layout

…and so on.

So you send a brief through to your ever-ready marketing team with the instruction to just stick that list in an email and fire it out to the members – they’re gonna love it!

Right? Erm no.

The problem with those bullet points is there is absolutely no benefit referred to whatsoever.

You don’t want your members to have to decipher your marketing messages and translate your intra-company jargon… cos trust me, they won’t!

Write in language your members will get!

Make sure your email is in a language that your members understand and can relate to.

So the above bullet points are the FEATURES of the new casino software release. What you need to do is tell the members what that means for them… ie. turn those features into BENEFITS to the reader.

A more effective way of describing your features might be as follows…

  • Crystal clear gameplay – with top notch HD quality graphics
  • Hear the sounds of a real casino! – with digital surround sound
  • See more of the action – with widescreen
  • Design your own lobby – with customisable options
  • Play them all at once! – with multiplay games
  • Easy to find your favourites – with tabbed layout

These bullets are longer (but the bolding helps break it up) but they will be much more effective than the first set of bullets cos they talk in terms that a member can understand and relate to.

Think about what THEY want out of their casino software, not what YOU THINK they should want.

Take a feature and think about how it benefits the member. Then communicate those benefits to the member.

You’ll reach more of your members and inspire them to love your new casino software as much as you do.

Copywriting, Emails

8 ways to instantly boost online gaming email response rates

Nail your email!

Here are 8 ways you can instantly increase the effectiveness of your online gaming email communications.

1. Use subject lines that get the job done

The sole purpose of the subject line of an email is to get you to open the email. It is not 60-75 characters of free space for you to squeeze in what you think is a clever piece of word play. There are many ways to write subject lines that result in higher open rates: use of a greeting, being a bit vague, cutting off the end of an interesting sentence, promising something inside the mail… etc. Use your imagination. Think of what grabs your attention when you’re scanning the subject lines of emails in your own inbox.

2. Acknowledge your recipient!

What’s in a name? Everything!

Ok so they’ve opened your email. Now what? Make it clear that you acknowledge they’re a real person. Emails are named as such for a reason: electronic mail, like a virtual letter, if you like. If you got a letter in the mail from a friend, you’d be a bit miffed if they didn’t address you by name, wouldn’t you? It’s kinda rude after all. Same thing goes for emails. Greet your member by name or username for best results. Make it clear you are addressing them as an individual. Using no greeting appears rude, impersonal and spammy and is more likely to land you in the dreaded junk mail folder if your member happens to have forgotten who you are or why they’re receiving your mail.

3. Cut to the chase

The next time you’re structuring a member email, remember that you have a time limit of less than 10 seconds (often less than 5) to grab your member’s attention and get them to keep reading your email. And that’s the brutal truth. So don’t beat about the bush unless you’re absolutely 100% confident in your ability to hypnotise your member and have them float through every word of your email in a trance-like state. Try to include a headline that sums up the purpose of your email as soon as possible.

4. Talk about benefits, not features

This is missed so often it’s amazing… When communicating with your members, you have to talk to them in terms they’re going to understand. Always have in mind ‘what’s in it for them?’ when writing your member emails. Why are the features of your new casino software so great for them? So you’ve got widescreen HD graphics on your new slots… so what? What does that mean to me as the member? How does that change my gaming experience? Tell me why I should even bother giving it a chance? Don’t just assume that your members will be able to turn the features of your product or service into benefits for them, just like that, cos they won’t. Why the hell should they have to? You emailed them, they owe you nothing. Give them a reason to check out your great new product or service by telling them what they’ll get out of it when they do.

5. Tell them what to do now

Don’t forget a strong CTA!

Your members will not automatically know what you want them to do after reading your email: you have to tell them. Even if it seems obvious to you, just remember that you may not always have 100% of your reader’s attention. Plus, having a final kick in the right direction could be enough to push them over the edge and into the sale. Giving readers an idea of what to do next is usually done in the form of a CTA, or Call To Action. It’s a short, tight piece of copy that usually contains a big benefit to the reader while telling them exactly what to do now. Ideally it links to where you want them to go when taking this action cos remember, your readers can also be lazy so don’t give them any excuse!

6. You’re a real person too!

People hate to be spoken to like a flock of sheep. They may act like a flock of sheep in their buying habits, but they won’t be flocking anywhere near your products or services if you make them feel like sheep. So keep hold of that personal connection, remind them that you’re a person too in the main copy (use normal people speak, not robot talk!) and also by including a sign-off. You don’t have to put ‘Hugs and kisses, Your snookywookums’ but just make sure you have a real person’s name at the end of the email so your members know it’s a real person who’s written to them.

7. Use a PS

Final kick!

Studies have shown that the two areas of an email that get the most attention in that short space of time between readers opening your email and acting on it are the headline and the PS. So firstly, if you’re not using either, start! How do you use a PS though? In a written letter, a PS (or Post Script) was used to add on an extra important piece of information that the writer had forgotten to add in the main body of the letter. You can benefit from what is still a highly regarded wee piece of copy by putting the important part of your message into it, or including something that’s coming soon that readers should be aware of, or an added benefit that’s somehow related to the content of the email… It’s an extra chance for you to give them another reason to whip out their wallet… Use the PS wisely and that’s exactly what they’ll do.

8. Test, rinse, repeat…

Test, test, test!

Every casino’s member population will be slightly different and react to communicatins and offers in slightly different ways. The best way for you to find out what works is to test your emails against each other. It’s very simple to do as long as you keep a few important things in mind…

Only test one variable at a time: for example, test 2 different headlines or 2 different body copy versions, not both at the same time or it’ll be impossible to interpret the results.

Think about how you’re going to gather the results of your testing: open rates, click thru rates, subsequent actions taken by readers, increase in traffic to a linked LP, increase in deposits related to a certain promo.

Think about how you’re actually going to do the testing itself: the best way is to split your population right down the middle at random, since you don’t want any other variables dirtying your results. Think about what time of day you’re going to send the email (another variable to test in itself), when you’re going to gather the results, if you’re going to recheck the stats at a later date… etc.

How will you interpret the results: this can be tricky if you’re not careful. If you’ve kept all other variables constant, it should be relatively easy to interpret your results. For example, if the only thing you changed between both versions of your email split test is one single word in the CTA, you can be pretty sure any fluctuation in your results can be attributed directly to the use of that word. What you then have to figure out is why. And this is where it helps to know a little bit about the psychological aspect of copywriting.

Keep testing cos your members preferences will change periodically, thus so will the effectiveness of your email communications to them. And as we all know, there’s always room for improvement!

That’s your lot for now. Incorporate all of the above for best results and remember to keep an eye on those stats!