How to Get More Responses from Your Outbound Communications

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We all know the feeling - spending hours crafting the perfect marketing or sales message, only to set the campaign live and see no results.

You want leads and conversions and site traffic! That's what dreams are made of, right?

But to get one of these golden gems from your outbound communications, your audience has to respond.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Why should they choose to respond to you - especially if a competitor is sending the same message?

The average open rate for emails is 18%, and the average brand engagement for Facebook is 0.07%.

The problem isn't necessarily getting your message in front of the right people. The problem is that people see your message, but don’t act.

That leads to a waste of time and cash, and a bad ROI for your sales and marketing. But you can fix it.

In this guide, I'm sharing six tips to get more responses from your outbound communications. From email marketing to text messages, you’ll see a surge of responses (and the good stuff that comes with them) in no time!

1. Nail your opening message.

How do you decide whether an email is worth opening? You might look at who it's from, or the time it was sent.

Most people look to the subject line.

The average person receives 88 email messages every day. If you want to get more responses, you've got to hook that subscriber or prospect instantly, and give them a reason to take that next step.

The same concept also applies to other types of communication, like:

  • Promotional text messages
  • Facebook ad headlines
  • Mobile app push notifications

You have to nail the opening if you want anyone to care what you have to say, much less respond. So how do you do it?

The simplest way to make sure your audience falls in love with your first message is to use emotion. A direct and emphatic opening line will usually get them to act.

In fact, subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity earn a 22% higher open rate. Take a look at this example from Hank Klinger.

Effective Email Subject Line Example

It's much more interesting than the rest, right? It grabs your attention. And even if you don't believe you'll really be able to make money instantly, you want to see what Hank has to say.

That's the goal of effective communications - be interesting enough that your targets want to engage.

Here are a few simple plug-and-play lines to help you add emotion to your messages:

  • Urgent: Your [XXX] is At Risk
  • Are You Struggling to [XXX]?
  • Last Chance to Avoid [XXX]

Refer to your custom buyer personas as needed to find what problems and solutions your targets care about.

Related: How to Create (and Target) Custom Buyer Personas

2. Tailor your approach.

Nobody likes generalized marketing messages. If we're going to be marketed to, each of us at least want those messages to be tailored to our needs or lifestyle.

But that's not as simple to do as making sure you’re sending retirement information to people over 40 years old, for example. It's deeper than that, and should affect your entire marketing strategy.


Because people want to trust a brand before handing over their hard-earned cash. And they're much more likely to trust you if you get to know them.

After all, almost 80% of consumers are likely to engage with an offer only if it’s been personalized to reflect their previous interactions with the brand.

That’s the basics of personalization - basing current communications on targets' past experiences - and it can help you hit the jackpot. When crafting your messages, tailor your approach by:

  • Addressing the person by name
  • Recommending products based on previous purchases
  • Retargeting people through Facebook ads, showing products or pages they’ve already viewed
  • Mentioning one of their pain points, and recommending your products or services to help them overcome it

You've got options, but no matter what type of messages you try to push, remember that personalization is key.

Here’s a great example of a personalized retargeting ad by Sumo (below). They're targeting users who've tried their free plan, prompting them to upgrade to a premium plan.

It's tailored to users with a specific experience, and offers a good value proposition, too.

Retargeting Ad Example from Sumo

Effective, right?

3. Offer something valuable.

Consumers are selfish.

When I open a marketing or sales message, I want to know what’s in it for me – and what value I'll get from engaging with it.

Chances are, your customers follow a similar thought process when they see your messages. That’s why you need to tell or show people why your communication matters to them instantly.

I know what you’re thinking: “Elise – how can I offer something valuable? Doesn’t that cost money, and worsen the chances of me breaking even on my campaign?”


You could offer value to your customers by explaining the benefits they’ll receive by reading your message or by taking action. That could be as simple as solving a problem they’re experiencing, like in this Starubucks example:

Starbucks Communications Example

(The problem they're addressing is using paper cups, with a fear of damaging the environment.)

If you do have cash to spare, you could win-over customers by offering:

So, next time you want to communicate with your customers, ask yourself What’s in it for them? If there isn't much, you probably shouldn't send that communication or start that campaign.

Related: 15 Unique Conversation Starters to Drive Customer Communications

4. Use interactive content.

Interactive content is the next big thing in marketing.

It's a type of content that innately gets people involved and engaged, and it's been proven to convert 2x better than traditional content.

Talk about results!

Popular types of interactive content include:

  • Calculators
  • Interactive infographics
  • Videos
  • Carousels
  • Quizzes

Quizzes tend to be most effective, like this one from Kayla Hollatz, which generated 1,480 leads at a 55% conversion rate.

Interactive Content Quiz Example

Buzzfeed, for example, generates 75% of it’s quiz traffic from social media, which shows that people pick out quizzes from crowded news feeds and other places where lots of brands are fighting for attention.

5. Add a call-to-action.

Once you've got customers reading your communications, they’ll still need a push to do something. You have to assume they won’t do anything unless you tell them.

That’s the basis of a call-to-action - telling people what to do with the message you've just given them. A good call-to-action uses action words like:

  • Buy
  • Shop
  • Browse
  • Purchase
  • Download

These help nudge people to take action, whether that's responding to you or taking some other action you want.

Look at this example by Shopify. They use “start your free trial today” as the main call-to-action on their website.

Shopify CTA Example

That immediately grabs your attention. If you're interested in using a service, a two-week free test drive before you'd have to pay for anything is appealing.

However, calls-to-action are tricky.

It might take a bit of trial and error to find the secret code that generates responses from your own audience, but you could begin by testing:

  • Colors
  • Action words
  • Button styles
  • Placement

You should also test the overall language of your calls-to-action, too.

In fact, ContentVerve saw a 90% increase in click-through rate by using first-person phrasing: "Start my free 30 day trial" vs. "Start your free 30 day trial."

Wouldn’t you like to see that for your own marketing messages?

Related: 7 Simple Steps to Quickly Convert More Online Leads

6. Harness the power of a follow-up.

Did you know that 80% of sales are made after the fifth follow-up? And that's after you've connected with someone. It takes nine touches just to get someone’s attention!

There could be hundreds of reasons why people aren’t responding to your communications.

But whether they were too busy or simply forgot to respond, you should be harnessing the power of follow-ups if you want to see responses from your communications strategy.

Related: 15 Reasons Why I Didn't Reply to Your Email (& How to Improve)

If you've connected once, keep reaching out until you get an answer. For example, you could follow up with a quick text message like this one:

Hey Kerry, I tried calling to chat about our staffing agency helping your business find the top talent you need. Give me a call when you have a minute. Cheers!

Telling them what you’re following-up with (and giving them a reason to message you back) could be the nudge they need to convert.

Here’s an example by Yesware, who use emails to follow-up with their targets.

Follow-Up Email Example

With a 50% response rate and tons more opens, why would you cross previous non-responses off your list?

The only way to get results like this, though, is to continually follow-up with people. It might take a lot of touch points to get responses, but it's worth the effort!

Final Thoughts on Getting Responses

Getting people to respond to your outbound communications might sound like a huge task, but remember these six steps and you’ll be there in no time.

Add value, give your targets a reason to take the next step, and keep reaching out to them. Repeating these steps is how you'll earn more responses - and experience all the other benefits that come with it!

Related: How to Write Professional Text Messages Your Customers Will Love