Increase Your Email Open Rates With These 5 Simple Tactics

Julie Lawson
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Email marketing is like a battlefield where you’re constantly fighting for engagement and high email open rates. Your email isn’t the only one that will appear in your subscriber’s inbox, so how do you stand out and get your emails opened?

Emails are one of the fastest ways to nurture a one-on-one relationship with your prospect that can provide future paybacks, but your emails won’t matter if your subscriber doesn’t give them the time of day.

With people using email day in and day out, it's no wonder email is such a vital marketing tool. Did you know MiKinsey and Company reported that converting leads into customers is 40 times more effective through email than Facebook and Twitter together? 

Perhaps this is because your subscribers authorized you to send messages to them in the first place. By opting into your email list, they've shown an active interest in your products and service. In a way, your list of subscribers is proof you’ve won the first battle of many, but war is rarely decided after just one.

Sometimes abiding by a few simple guidelines can make the difference between having excellent email open rates and terrible ones, and with every dollar you spend on email having a $38 return on investment, that’s a lot of money you could be leaving on the table if you have low email rates. If you could increase your email open rates by even 10%, what would that do for you?

To make every dollar count, here are 5 simple and effective tips you can use to come out of the metaphorical battlefield that is your subscriber’s inbox victorious, again and again.

1. Prepare for Battle (and Avoid that Spam Filter)

Ever heard the quote from Sun Tzu, “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought?” Taking preventative measures to ensure your email is successfully delivered into your subscriber’s inbox is like sending scouts ahead to look for the path of least resistance on a battlefield.

Don’t let your email get sideswiped by the enemy (a.k.a. the spam filter) and sent straight into your subscriber’s junk folder. Taking a few measured steps can go a long way in increasing your email open rates.

  • Make sure the “To:” field reflects your subscriber’s name.

  • Have your “From:” field show a name your reader will recognize and remember.

  • Send your emails from a verified domain. Your sending domain is how the email provider determines if the email has been sent from a legitimate source.

  • Provide a way for your subscribers to opt-out of receiving your emails at any time. You want a receptive audience, not a reluctant hostage.

  • Include the physical location of your business.

  • Avoid salesy subject lines - you know the kind that screams salesman and scam in one breath. You can do this by refraining from shouting at your subscribers with all caps and keeping over the top sales words like “buy now,” “on sale,” or “free” out of your subject line.

2. Set Attention-Grabbing Traps (by Writing Creative Subject Lines)

Your subject line is both your best defense and your best offense. Grab your reader’s attention with a subject line that stands out and can withstand their critical eye.

Whether we mean to judge or not, snap judgments are part of the human condition, and your reader will only take 3 to 4 seconds to decide whether to open your email or not. Taking that into consideration, wouldn’t it make sense to write eye-catching subject lines?

Here are a few ways to write subject lines that can fortify your defensive and offensive strategy for increasing email open rates.

  • Put a call-to-action in the subject line.

  • Add a unique spin to your subject line. Make your reader curious and intrigued, so they want to know what’s inside the email.

  • Try adding humor. Getting a laugh from your reader could entice them to see what other funny gems may be in the email’s content. At the very least, they may be humored enough to take a deeper look at what you’ve written.

  • Use their language. Research what words and phrases your targeted audience use. You want the subject line to resonate with them on a personal level.

  • Keep it short and to the point.

According to a 2019 study from Devin de Koff and John van den Elst, The Effect of Subject Lines on Open Rates of Email Marketing Messages, email subject lines that are short, personal and elicit an emotional response have higher email open rates than those that don’t. Emails with ‘personal’ subject lines had a 25% open rate, emails with an ‘emotional’ subject line had a 26.1% open rate, and emails with a ‘short’ subject line “had the highest open rate with 26.7%.”

When it comes to writing strong subject lines, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, but they’re a good starting point for when you need an idea on how to tweak your subject line just right.

3. Write like a Double Agent (Smooth, Friendly, and Cool-Headed)

Congratulations! Your subscriber has opened your email. Now that you have your reader’s attention, you’ll want to blow them away with high-quality content. In today’s fast-paced world, time is a limited resource. If your reader decides your emails aren’t worth the time to read, they may opt-out of your subscriber list, or worse, simply ignore your future emails, which can hurt your email open rates.

Here are some ways to keep your readers happy and engaged with your content. 

  • Address your reader like you’re their friend. You want to talk to the reader as if you’re having a conversation face-to-face with them. It can make the reading experience more personal and leave a lasting impression.

  • Keep the tone friendly and conversational. If people want to read something formal and dull, they’ll look for a published academic study…or for convenience, they’ll just look at the back of their cereal box for the nutrition statistics.

  • Give value to your readers by providing helpful information tailored to their needs. You’ll want your readers to finish reading your email with easy steps they can take immediate action on. When people receive something they consider valuable, there’s a natural tendency to want to give back – and that could translate into your readers turning into loyal customers.

Keep in mind your content is an opportunity to establish trust between you, your company, and the reader. This battle is an ongoing one and never truly ends, but it is no less important to achieving your ultimate goal: high email open rates.

4. Optimized for Battle (by Keeping Your List Current)

Even when you’re writing amazing, mind-blowing content, some readers may lose interest and stop engaging with your emails anyways. As human beings, our interests and needs are always evolving, so change is inevitable. That doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines and let your list be weighed down by unengaged subscribers. After all, unopened emails can hurt your email open rates.

Now before you run off to tackle your subscriber list, there are a few things you can do to keep your list up-to-date. You may even revive email addresses thought to be dead-ends.

For regular maintenance, you could send out quarterly emails to your subscribers, asking them directly whether they are enjoying the content and want to stay opted-in to your mailing list. It’s an efficient and effective way to keep your list up-to-date with little to no effort on your part.

For your inactive subscribers, you could send an email to ask them outright if they don't want to receive your emails anymore. For those who respond in the negative, you’ve managed to rekindle the relationship, but for everyone else, you can remove them from your list with confidence.

5. Break into Formation (by Segmenting Your List)

One effective strategy for keeping your readers happy and engaged with your content is to segment your list. By breaking your list down into smaller groups, you can tailor your content to that group of readers’ specific interests and needs. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to test when the ideal time is to send your emails out for that particular segment.

Sending out the right content at the right time can do wonders for increasing your email open rates, as MailChimp can attest. They discovered segmented email campaigns performed 14.31% better than non-segmented ones when they looked at their data.

Here are a few ideas for segmenting your list.

  • Sort your list by your readers’ demographics, such as gender, age, and location.

  • Look at their behavior. What pages are they viewing? What content are they downloading from your site?

  • Have your subscribers purchased from you or not? If so, what products or services are they investing in?

  • What lead magnet or incentive was your prospect looking at when they opted-in?

While all your subscribers are interested in what you have to say, some topics may be more relevant than others to some of your readers.

Achieve High Email Open Rates

Next time you’re writing your next email campaign, keep these battle strategies in mind. To recap, remember to:

  • Avoid the spam filter flagging your email.

  • Write subject lines that will grab your reader's attention.

  • Write high-quality content that is relevant and gives value to your reader.

  • Remove inactive subscribers from your list and keep your list up-to-date.

  • Segment your list into groups and tailor emails relevant to them.

Your email open rates – not to mention your conversion rates and bottom line – depend on your success.

Need help writing your email marketing copy? Schedule a call with us to discuss your needs.

Julie Lawson

Julie Lawson is a copywriter on a mission to inspire people to take action and improve their lives, one call-to-action at a time. She wants to set people a journey for success, and she does this by writing compelling emails and ad campaigns that connect with her readers' on a personal level. When she isn't writing copy, you can find her nose-deep in a book or writing stories.

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