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By On January 31 2020 Email Marketing With 0 Comments Permalink

4 Things We Learned From Clean Out Your Inbox Week

Quick, how many unopened emails do you have in your inbox right now? 100? 1,000? More? Are you only counting unopened work emails, or personal emails too? If you’re anything like the average person, the answer is probably ‘too many’. 

In fact, the average office worker spends a massive 2.5 hours per day reading and responding to emails[1]. According to Forbes, the average worker receives 200 emails per day, of which 144 aren’t even relevant to their job! That equates to 1.8 hours spent on irrelevant emails every day[1]. With numbers like that, there’s a good chance you received a few new emails since you started reading this article.

Luckily, last week was Clean Out Your Inbox Week (yes, really, there’s a week for everything). That means you should be looking at a clean, organised inbox, with a manageable number of unopened emails. 

If you missed the memo about Clean Out Your Inbox Week and are currently staring at hundreds of unopened emails, don’t worry, because you’re definitely not alone! But a full inbox doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A savvy email marketer can learn a lot from their own inbox. 

Here are 4 things we learned from Clean Out Your Inbox Week. 

#1. Sensational Subject Lines

Subject lines are a tricky business. There has been study after study investigating everything from subject line length, to word choice, to capitalisation, punctuation, and emojis. 

While these studies certainly have their place, subject lines aren’t an exact science. Sometimes, the only real answer is to know your audience, go with your gut, and maybe have a peak at what competitors are doing. 

As such, your own inbox can be an extremely valuable resource. Have a look at your inbox now: which subject lines immediately grab your attention and demand a click, and which need to be sent back for a second draft? Are there certain words that catch your eye?  How do you feel about emojis? 

Seeing what works for competitors can be an excellent way to stay current on industry trends, or even ensure your business remains two steps ahead when it comes to killer subject lines.

You can even get a little more scientific with your inbox analysis. For example, among the 50 most recent emails in my inbox, the average subject line length is 7.18 words, with the longest subject line being 22 words, and the shortest being just 2 words. Only 3 out of 50 (6%) subject lines contain an emoji, while zero include fullstops, and just 1 contains an exclamation mark. 

Where possible, you can apply these learnings to your own subject lines. 

If you need more help crafting the perfect email subject line, check out our Ultimate Guide To Email Subject Lines

#2. What’s Hot, What’s Not, & When To Send 

For every email you click on, just remember there’s probably someone, somewhere monitoring that email’s open rate. With that in mind, it’s worth taking note of what, exactly, you click on. Which emails are you eagerly anticipating, and which go directly to the trash without a second thought? 

Ideally, once you’ve clicked on an email, it will offer enough value to maintain your attention. But grabbing that attention in the first place can be tricky, which is why it’s worth perusing your inbox to see what gets your attention. 

Are there particular tactics that consistently work on you, and, if so, can you apply these same tactics to your email marketing efforts?

You should also take note of the emails you never open. What mistakes are they making that you can avoid? Is there a particular theme among these unopened emails? Do the subject lines include ‘spammy’ words or phrases? Is it unclear what the email is actually about? 

Looking through my own deleted emails, the words ‘register’ and ‘webinar’ appear frequently. Obviously, this will vary from audience to audience, so analysing your inbox can provide valuable insights. 

Further, it can be worth paying attention to email send times: when are you most commonly receiving emails, how frequently do you hear from the same senders, and what impact does this have on your willingness to open the email? 

For example, over the last 3 days I have received 75 emails to my personal address (work emails = too many to count) at an average of 25 per day. Of those, 45 (60%) are currently unopened.

Anecdotally, I appear to be more likely to open emails between 9am-2pm. Emails sent outside of these times have a higher chance of being unopened, as I try to speed through unread messages either first thing in the morning or later at night. 

It can be beneficial to perform similar analyses on your own inbox to gain insights for your email sends. 

#3. Have You Heard The News? 

It’s not all about how many emails you’re receiving, but what types of emails you’re receiving. Are you inundated with newsletters? Too many emails from your boss? Or maybe you’re getting lots of emails about the latest sale? Whatever the case, there’s a good chance your subscribers’ inboxes look similar. 

Take particular note of how many marketing newsletters you’re subscribed to. Does it feel like too many? Are these newsletters really adding value to your inbox, or are businesses just sending because they feel like they have to? Chances are, your subscribers feel the same way. According to Outlook, “50% of the email in a typical inbox is newsletters”[2]

Looking at my own inbox, this estimate is nearly spot on – 26 out of the 50 most recent emails I received are newsletters. It would have been a perfect 50% if I hadn’t received a new email while writing this. 

Again, this is an excellent opportunity to get a head start on the competition. What are the newsletters that you enjoy doing to hold your attention? Are they ultra-personalised? Lots of dynamic content? Or maybe they’re just straightforward and to the point?

Likewise, look at the newsletters that you’ve been meaning to unsubscribe from but haven’t gotten around to yet (we all have a few!) and try to pinpoint what turned you off. Was the send frequency too high? Irrelevant content? Boring subject lines? Whatever it was, take this opportunity to learn from their mistakes! 

#4. Don’t Forget the Junk 

You can learn a lot from your inbox, but don’t forget about your junk folder! Your junk folder can tell you a lot about email deliverability – specifically, what to avoid if you want your emails to actually reach subscribers’ inboxes. 

Take a look now and see what you find. Spammy subject lines? Dodgy sender names? Too good to be true offers? Senders you never subscribed to? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. 

While we don’t recommend spending too much time in your junk folder (unless you’re desperately searching for that confirmation link that was erroneously marked as spam) don’t write it off entirely: it can be an excellent reminder of what not to do!

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