Finding new ways to continually reach and engage your customers can be a challenge. If your numbers are falling flat, don’t continue to do the same thing and expect different results. There are things you can control to improve communication with your audience. Here are 10 tips that can help energize your opens, click through rates (CTR) and leads.

1. Use personalization

Personalization has been driving growth in opens, CTR, and conversion in recent years. Email marketing providers now include high-level personalization in their services. Contacts are more likely to open your email when they see their name in the subject line or an actual name, rather than a company name or something generic.

2. Message early and often

Email new prospects immediately. Don’t play hard to get—strike while the iron is hot. Immediately messaging will help to gauge their level of interest and set expectations for the future. Message your new contacts within a day of them subscribing, visiting your website, or joining your network.

Engage them while you’re still relevant in their minds. Automated, behaviorally triggered emails can ensure this happens effectively.

3. Remember the alt text

Make sure your images have alt text added. It is often the default setting for email service providers to not enable images, so the image you worked hard to create (or at least put a lot of thought into picking out of the stock images folder) will be wasted. To the recipient, it will appear as some jumbled “alternative text” or just a red x as seen in the example below.

email image

You can add clickable, alternative text to your images that describe what you’re sending them. It’s a relatively painless process that begins by right-clicking on the image in the email, selecting format picture, alt text, then adding the URL and a description or an actionable item like “click here to download picture.”

4. Keep it succinct

How much time do you really spend reading a lengthy email? If a message doesn’t get to the point in the first three sentences, there’s a good chance it ends up in the trash. In order to really engage your readers, keep it short and sweet. Otherwise, it’ll get skimmed over and discarded. Breaking down long paragraphs into a few short sentences helps readers take visual breaks.

5. Get them excited in the subject line

To get the recipient to open the message, make the subject line too good for them not to. I can’t say I’ve ever read a subject line that said “Want a Free Lunch?” and not opened it. Subject lines should be relevant to the receiver and draw them in with action verbs.

When it’s applicable, put the value proposition directly in the subject line and make it timely. Your customers should know about the promotion before they open the email. It should encourage them to act quickly. A great example would be “25% off this Saturday only.”

Proceed with caution. There are spam trigger words that, if used, can hurt the reputation of the sender. Avoid sales pitchy terms like “Act Now,” “Free,” or “100% Guaranteed”

6. Do NOT use all caps

Using all caps is a cheap way to get the prospect’s attention, but it may not be positive attention. Nobody wants to be yelled at. People won’t respond well to all caps.

7. Refrain from overdoing it with the exclamation points

Another easy way to sound spammy is exclamation points.  Like using all caps, it’s unprofessional and annoying to use excessive exclamation points. It’s also a quick way to get flagged as spam. Instead of using all caps or exclamation points, come up with a unique call to action or compelling question. Negative attention is worse than no attention.

8. Keep the email list fresh

In order to get a clear depiction of your measurable results, make sure the email addresses in your distribution list actually active. Another reason to cleanse your email list is the chance of being flagged as spam. Emailing a large proportion of addresses considered inactive will increase your risk of being flagged as a spammer in two ways.

First, ISPs base your complaint rate off of active accounts, not total accounts. Instead of being flagged as spam by 8 of the 500 emails you emailed, you would be flagged by 8 of the 250 accounts that are actually active. This is a much higher proportion complaint rate in the eyes of the provider.

Secondly, inactive accounts can also be turned into spam traps or unknown accounts. ISPs will often turn inactive addresses into traps to track spammers. Sending to a spam trap once is all it takes to cause deliverability issues. Inactive addresses can also be deemed as unknown accounts. Sending to a relatively small percentage of unknown addresses can get you sent directly to the spam folder.

9. Implement and always include a preference center

A preference center will make both you and the recipient’s life easier. Always include a link to a landing page that allows customers to self-segment. This will allow you to send information that is more relevant to prospects. Customers should also be able to choose their message frequency. If they feel they’re getting messaged too much, there’s a good chance they’ll unsubscribe.

10. Test, test, test

A good way to see what you’re doing right and what needs to stop is through A/B testing. Testing removes opinions and guesses and provides measurable results to show what actually worked in your emails. Continually testing new elements and content is essential for staying relevant with your audience.