5 Tips to Outwit the “5-Second Rule” of Email Marketing


5 Tips to Outwit the “5-Second Rule” of Email MarketingThe Direct Marketing Association projected email marketing’s ROI at $39.40 for every dollar spent in 2012. Hot dog! Email is still a very viable form of communication to marketers today.

However, we live in a highly technical and fast-paced world. The evolution of spam control is constantly changing, so you need to be smart to be sure your message makes it to an Inbox.

In the past, the rule of thumb was to simply avoid specific words. That used to be enough to give you a green light into an Inbox. However, major Internet Service Providers (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL) have shifted away from merely scanning the words in an email message to look for spam “trigger words.” Sure, content filtering still happens, but they’ve moved on to other tactics.

Recently, a greater importance has been placed on engagement metrics. Your email is judged based on things like whether your messages were read, then deleted or deleted without being read; whether your messages were replied to; the number of abuse (spam) complaints; the frequency of receiving/reading a message from a source; the number of hard bounces, and so on.

5 Tips to Outwit the “5-Second Rule” of Email MarketingToday, your emails face the ultimate spam filter. This filter is so complex that it changes literally from day to day. No, it isn’t something new from SpamCop or Google.

The most challenging spam filter is the HUMAN MIND.

Statistics show that you’ve got only 5 seconds to either pass or fail the “Spam Test.” So don’t screw things up with a rookie mistake. Below are 5 tips to help ensure your email message can escape the dreaded Delete button:

  1. Provide an interesting “hook” from the Inbox — You must have juicy content and a compelling Subject line paired with preview text to entice someone to open your email.
  2. Keep your copy reader-friendly — Once opened, make sure your content flows well, is scannable, and has a clear call to action for the next step you want the reader to take.
  3. Use your real estate well — Be sure your call to action sits “above the fold” so readers see it even if they don’t read your email all the way to the end.
  4. Make it look good — Your HTML template should follow email design best practices. Here are a few must-do basics:
    • Use tables (not divs) to control placement
    • Use inline styles (instead of an external CSS document)
    • Use ALT TEXT with images
    • Keep your template width around 600 pixels
    • Avoid using background images with HTML copy over the top
    • Encode all special characters (ampersands, trademark/copyright symbols, etc.)
  1. Harley Example CultivateMOST IMPORTANTLY: Don’t show up uninvited. As social media takes over, people are becoming continually protective of their primary email address. Sending to an email address without permission HURTS your brand more than it helps.

Wanna see an example of a company who does great email marketing?

Our local neighbor Harley-Davidson is just the company to keep your eye on. If you’re a motorcycle fanatic like me, sign up for their email list (subscription info in their homepage footer), then watch and learn. They really know how to get their email messages read. And with the 5 email marketing tips above, now YOU will, too.