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The ability to move, motivate, and entice consumers within the confines of their inbox is not an easy task. Too often, marketers overlook the tools available to attract and draw customers to open their messages.

The inbox is a competitive arena in which you must fight for your open. The battle can be won by effectively utilizing and optimizing four straightforward email marketing elements. I find myself continually surprised by how many large online retailers still do not incorporate these simple elements into their email marketing efforts.

Take advantage of the opportunities to optimize your existing email marketing campaigns. The results surprise even the most seasoned email marketer.

From Name

Why does the from name matter? Your consumers determine whether to open, delete, or mark a message as spam based on your from name. Your brand name recognition and loyalty are captured in the from name.

Use a consistent from name that your consumers will immediately recognize as your company's brand name among the sea of messages in their inbox. Consider the from name as your company's inbox logo.

Continually changing or adding cute and tricky from names will actually create a lack of consumer confidence your message's authenticity—nothing can damage your response rate more than an unrecognizable from name.

I immediately think of one major online retail shop-at-home company that uses many from names to distinguish among specific types of messages. Its name speaks for itself, and yet it diminishes its brand's influence and power by adding tags such as Weekly, Specials, Home Solutions, Health & Fitness...

Subject Lines

The second and equally important factor for determining whether a consumer opens a message is the subject line. Essentially, it should be a concise call to action that must elicit a reaction from the consumer.

Too often, the subject line is created at the last minute, as an afterthought. This crucial element needs more attention paid to it. Email marketing plans should not only outline a creative design process but also several brainstorming sessions to develop smart and effective subject lines.

I often say, "If you spend five minutes creating your subject line, go back and spend at least ten more minutes to get it right." The key is to create a short, clear, and enticing call to action that speaks to your consumer.

Apply the laws of attraction to your subject lines by appealing to your customer's interests, senses, and desires.

Don't assume that by including "free shipping" or "% off" in the subject line you'll convince consumers to gravitate to the message. My inbox is filled daily with these turnkey promotional Subject Lines that do not move me nor motivate me to dig any into the message.

One of the largest toy retailers in the country continues to send emails with uninspired subject lines like "Shop This Week's Ad Plus Free Shipping on Select Brands!" The company sells the essence of fun and yet is unable to capture any sense of joy or ability to entertain via that tired call to action.

In contrast, a female-apparel company recently sent me a subject line that would cause any woman to pause, wonder, and click: "Believe It: The Best-Fitting Jeans On Earth, 2 for $17 each!" This subject line is a great declaration that draws consumers in and makes them want to know more about the product and the offer.


Extend and propel the subject line's call to action into the preview pane by using a text pre-header at the top of the message, above the standard line, "Having trouble viewing this message? Click here."

Don't underestimate the power of a well-crafted text link that can be viewed in every web-based email service or email client. Strategically positioned text links hold more power to persuade than any image that's turned off.

Take advantage of this extremely effective tool by calling attention to an additional call to action that links to a specific promotion or product in what I deem the prime real estate within any email template.

Without having to download any images, consumers will find immediate gratification by clicking on a pre-header's link to begin shopping. One footwear giant implements this simple yet strategic tool with every message: "Over 100 New Arrivals in Originals and Over 300 New Arrivals in Sport Performance."

Preview Pane

When designers are given the task of building a new email template, they often overlook how a consumer views a message via the preview pane. But consumers who choose to filter their messages through a preview pane not merely notice but are drawn to emails that capitalize on this prime property.

Grab your customers' attention with an optimal design that seamlessly integrates your company's logo, navigation bar, and promotion—whether images are set to on or off. Ensuring that the preview pane renders those elements as text is imperative.

By not employing any alternative text links or standalone text to provoke immediate interest, one high-tech online retailer continually misses the opportunity to capture shoppers' interest via the preview pane. Even when images are turned on in the preview pane, the template falls short by not effectively utilizing the space. The offer is well below the fold. Hence, the call to action is completely lost along with the ability to persuade the consumer to drill any deeper.

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Consumers want to be moved, motivated, and enticed by smart email marketing, which either begins or ends in the inbox.

Give your messages a fighting chance by aggressively using these four key elements to drive your consumer to open your messages time and time again.

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Kimberly Snyder is an account manager with Bronto ( and works with clients to optimize their email marketing efforts.