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By Louis Chatoff

Unlike cold calls and direct mail, which are frequently viewed as intrusive or unwelcome, email marketing messages give recipients the freedom to read and review correspondence on their own time when it’s most convenient. Less distracted by the day’s deadlines and tasks, recipients are better able to retain the information they’re given.

But, unlike calls and direct mail, there are a myriad of unpredictable obstacles your email message must travel through before the customer even has the chance to decide if they want to open it. It must make it from the sender, through the Internet Service Provider (ISP), spam filters and ultimately to the inbox. If your message gets through, it then must face the reader’s own screening process, during which the user typically scans decides whether or not to open a message in just a manner of seconds.

Studies show that nearly 95 percent of marketing emails are successfully delivered to their intended recipient. Of those, approximately 20 to 30 percent are opened.

Several factors influence open rate and escort email messages through various filters and obstacles along their path. The first area marketers should concentrate on is the manner in which messages are viewed by automated ISP blocks along the delivery path. Senders can easily maximize delivery by eliminating spam phrases such as money-back guarantees, expressions of urgency or lines like “click here!”, “Why pay more?”, “Free!” or “Buy now!” Email marketers should also avoid the use of caps lock and excessive exclamation points.

The subject line is arguably the most important part of your email, as it determines whether or not a message is opened. In your recipient’s inbox competing with hundreds of emails, you have approximately three seconds to grab a reader’s attention and entice that person to open your message. Strong subject lines are short, approximately 35 to 45 characters, and they convey relevance, urgency and value.

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