How to ensure consumers think your email is useful


Pam McHugh, General Manager, U.S. Operations and Research, Mintel International said this morning at the MarketingSherpa eMail Summit in Miami that 1000 consumers recently surveyed by Mintel found only 26% of personal business email “relevant or useful.”

McHugh presented the importance of each of the following in determining whether or not someone will open your email, thinking it’s useful:

Opportunity to opt-in.

Give respondents every opportunity to opt-in to emails from your company, because 90% of “opt-inners” (opters-in?) said they were somewhat or very likely to open the email.

Make it clear who you are.

83% of Mintel’s respondents said that knowing the sender is very or extremely important and 79% said when they know the sender, subject line is extremely important.

Clearly state the offer in the subject line.

McHugh used an example of a subject line from a credit card email. The original subject line said “enews update”, but according to Hughes, “‘earn up to $500 in statement credits’ would be much better… My son is going to open that email.” The email also contained no less than five Calls-To-Action to refer a friend to the program.

Mind your frequency.

When it came to frequency, Mintel received some “really astounding numbers” according to McHugh. If they know the sender, recipients will “tolerate” 9 emails per month from companies with which they do personal business. “They are not saying they are going to open it all, but they will tolerate it from marketers they are familiar with,” said McHugh.

If consumers do not perceive they have a relationship with you, their tolerance is significantly lower, tolerating only three emails per month.

Target age-segment opportunities.

Those 65+ open less of their personal business email “even if they opted into it” according to McHugh. But once opened, they are fairly likely to respond, responding to 2.5 PB emails in the past week. Knowing the sender is extremely important for 79% of these respondents.

It was extremely important for only 38% of 18-44 year-olds.

Target affluents.

Those with household income above $100k were most likely to follow through with the purchase of a product or service if they opened the email. They also check their email about five times a day.

Best practices according to Mintel:

1. The more targeted the better. Build demographic information on your contacts over time to improve targeting.

2. Opt-in options. Allow your customers and prospects to opt-in to select types of communications.

3. Clear, concise, subject lines including your company name and offer. “Make that subject line speak to me, if you do, I just might open it,” concluded McHugh.

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  1. Jeff Gwynne says


    A big thanks for sharing these insights. We are just getting into newsletters (albeit B2B and on a much smaller scale) and these tips are extremely helpful.

  2. Zilvinas Juraska says

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome blog!

    1. Daniel Burstein says

      Thanks for the positive comments Zilvinas.

      We don’t have guest writers, per se, like other blogs do. We’ve found those “guest writers” tend to just be shopping the same story around everywhere.

      But what we do every few weeks is ask a question to our audience and then publish the most helpful tips on our blog. The latest question is about Value Proposition and you can answer it here —

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