Everybody knows the importance of building an email list. Without an email list, you don’t have a business.
If you build your audience on any social media platform, you are at their mercy. They can change the rules any time, put new restrictions in place, or even ban you from accessing your own data. With email though, you are in control. You get to contact your people any time you want, as many times as you want. You own your list. Nobody can make you do anything you don’t want or take it away from you.
However, by itself, the list has no value. If it did, anybody could go out, buy a list of a few thousand people and become a millionaire.
The money is not in the list. The money is in the responsiveness of your list. Meaning, when you email your list, are people actually opening it? Are they engaging and responding to your calls to action? Are they clicking on your links? What’s your relationship like? Do your email subscribers trust you? Do they look forward to hear from you? Do they respond when you ask them something?
You can’t know any of these things unless you can get your people to actually open your emails. This is why in this blog post, we are looking at ways to dramatically increase your email open rate.
Let’s dive straight in.
#1 Start with your ideal customer persona
Every time you sit down to write an email, picture your ideal customer/client in your head. If your business has more than one profile, think carefully about who you want to target. While many people think each email could potentially appeal to every type of customer, this is not the case. You can greatly increase your open rates just by catering to a specific group.
Now, get out of your own head and slip into their shoes.
When you look at every piece of communication from their point of view, it will be that much more relevant. When you think about your content through their eyes, it will have more impact and resonate more with people fitting your ideal customer profile.
#2 Address one person in your email
You may be writing to a group of people, and your subscribers know that, but write in such a manner that they feel like as if you are only talking to them. Make every piece of content sound like it’s custom made.
Stop saying things like, ‘all of you …’, or ‘most of you …’.
Just imagine for a second that you are writing to one person only – your ideal customer customer – and when you write to one person, you won’t write as if you are addressing a crowd, would you? Your email would be more personal, more intimate. After all, there is a relationship between you and them. You don’t write emails to strangers, don’t you?
Also, use your actual name in the ‘from’ field. Your readers will know that there is real person writing these emails rather than business entity that they can’t connect with.
#3 Stop wasting people’s time
Only email when you have something useful to say. Now, this is not an excuse to email sporadically. What it actually means is that you have to become proactive and be on the lookout for anything that might be beneficial to your reader.
It’s fine to send people sales messages, but be upfront about it. Establish a context of commerce from the get go. Let people know that in a relationship with you, not only will you be sending pure information but they should expect to receive promotional emails. When you are more upfront from the very beginning, you attract will the right kind of people and you gain natural interest in your emails. This means that when you launch something or start promoting a product, people still find value in your emails.
#4 Make sure people get a clear benefit
Think of at least one thing people will walk away with after reading your emails.
It can be a practical, actionable tip they can implement straightaway, or it can be a complete guide – an in-depth resource – they can bookmark and access whenever they need it. It can be a message that deeply resonates. Something that makes them feel heard and they can truly feel like you get them and care.
If you get in the habit of rewarding your people, with every email they come to trust you. They know that it is in their benefit to read your emails. They won’t feel like you only email for your own selfish reasons (to make a sale) and it keeps them at the front and centre while creating content.
#5 Craft compelling subject lines
People’s inboxes are very crowded spaces and it is becoming harder to get their attention by the minute. By following the tips above, you lay the right foundation to build your email marketing upon, but this tip is purely tactical and the results are also very immediate.
Think about all the emails you see in your own inbox. Which ones make you click? Which ones are so boring or spammy sounding that you hit delete without bothering to open? Take notes.
Write emails that spell a clear benefit or arouse your readers’ curiosity.
Use power words that capture people’s emotions. Use numbers. Point out mistakes because we all want to know where we are going wrong.
Learn from the experts in your field but also don’t be afraid to do your own thing. You don’t have to follow the formula if it doesn’t make sense for your industry or if everybody is doing it. Be different.
#6 Write engaging emails
Write in your own voice. Show some personality. Ask yourself if what you say in your emails, really does sound like you. Would you say the same thing to a friend?
Ask questions because that’s what happens when you write to a friend. You aim to have a conversation with them and you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. You don’t want to lecture them or talk at them. You want to involve your readers and make them feel part of the conversation.
You don’t want to send overly promotional sales either. Don’t sound hypey in your emails as that never sounds good. Don’t say anything you can’t say to a person’s face.
#7 Write on the same day
It helps to stay consistent.
Think about your favourite show for a second. Part of what makes it unmissable is that it comes on the exact same day at the exact same time. You get so used to seeing them that your mind expects to see the cast turn up again and again, on the same day, at the same time.
Being consistent will help you keep top of mind and go that extra mile in creating that trust. Your audience expects to hear from you. They are willing and waiting. They anticipate hearing from you and that really helps in reaching more of your audience.
#8 Format your emails right
How do you want your emails to look? This is a conscious choice you need to make.
You can send more corporate style newsletters if that’s what you prefer. You can send plain text only, if that’s more your style. You can insert images and links, or you can keep it very simple.
Depending on what your audience wants, and by experimenting, you’ll discover what format works best for you. Use that. Don’t use something because everybody else in your industry is doing it or it will become same ol’ same ol’ and this doesn’t serve you very well.
#9 Use open loops in your emails.
According to Wikipedia, an open loop is a rhetorical device to instill curiosity by creating anticipation for what will come next. This device is sometimes also called a tension loop for the tension and anticipation it creates.
These are like cliff hangers in the movies, the scene just before the break that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. Or the dramatic shots in a movie trailer which have you salivating for the movie.
In your emails, you can create open loops by referring to something you will talk about in the next email. You mention something and promise to talk more about it in another email. However, make sure to always deliver on your promise or this tactic will just come across as a gimmick.
#10 Resend un-opened emails
This is a very simple tactic but not many people do it.
When you send out an email, keep in mind that not everybody will see it or read it because people are busy. Sometimes the timing is just not appropriate.
The very simple fix to this solution is to resend emails that have not been opened. You can also create a weekly digest and send links to your best content to encourage people to click open.
Especially resend your emails linking to your blog updates. You spend so much time creating that content that it’s a shame if people don’t get to see it just because the timing is not right.
#11 Always be testing
If you have a decent sized audience, it pays to do a split test.
Send half of your emails with one subject line and the remaining with a different one. People report that sometimes one subject line vastly outperforms the other one – more than double the first time. Meaning, one subject line gets a 20% open rate for example, while the other get over 40%. This is huge and definitely worth testing to see what works better.
Don’t worry if your list size is small. Instead, spend your time creating a relationship with your list.
#12 Endeavor to know your audience even more
Every time someone subscribes to your list, they are doing so because they feel you can alleviate their fears or help them fulfil their desires. The way to do that is to keep working on understanding your audience at a much deeper level – even more than they know themselves.
Spend time on online forums, create surveys, read book reviews on Amazon, and read industry trade magazines. Don’t forget to have real conversations with your readers and customers. Just ask them and you’ll know what they want from you.
#13 Refine the sign-up process
Attract the right people in the first place.
Offer an opt-in incentive that attracts your ideal audience. If you attract people who don’t fit your ideal reader and then try to email them on a topic they don’t really find interesting, no matter how much effort you put into your process, it won’t work. The more refined your audience is, the higher your open rates will be.
Save yourself headache and tears. Create the right sign-up freebie and install a double opt-in to make sure people don’t subscribe others without their permission and you get high quality subscribers from the get go.
#14 Create mobile friendly content
How does your email look on mobile devices?
Do people have to pinch it to read it? Do they have to scroll all the way to the right to finish the sentences? Do the pictures take up most of the screen? Can they read in both plain text and html?
Research shows that a huge number of your audience is checking their email on their smart phones. These people are high maintenance, even more unforgiving then the people who are opening them on desktop. Make sure you optimize your messages for mobile and tiny devices.
#15 Set up an autoresponder series
When somebody signs up to your email list, they are super interested in hearing from you.
If you don’t contact them immediately with a thank you email, or don’t email again for a while, they will simply lose this enthusiasm. They might forget you altogether.
Set up a series of autoresponder emails that start sending messages when someone signs up. This will ensure that people remember you and get used to receiving and opening emails from you. By getting them to click and open your emails, you are creating a habit. If you continue to email regularly, there is a big chance that they will stick with their habit of opening your messages.
#16 Remind people why they subscribed
Some people subscribe to too many email lists and if you don’t email them often, they will forget who you are and how you got their address in the first place. It is a good idea to remind people how you know each other. You can insert a block of text which tells people which company this email is coming from and when they subscribed.
Just by re-establishing this relationship, you will be able to prevent deletions and unsubscribes.
#17 Pay attention to your timing
This tactic requires some common sense and experimentation.
Pay attention to your reader behaviour. If you send too early in the morning, it might get lost amongst a sea of emails coming in. If you send to people in the early evening, and they are working professionals, this might be something that only gets in their way of getting home.
If everybody in your industry sends on the same day, try sending on a different one. Try sending your emails at different times and see what works. Test and you may find a time that has greater success.
#18 Avoid spam filters
This one is self-explanatory.
Stop using words that trigger spam filters. Avoid using all caps, sloppy html, and too many exclamation points.
#19 Provide a real address to respond to
Let people know that you genuinely want to hear from them and that their input matters.
Give them a proper address to respond to and not a rubbish looking thing that bounces off every message they try to get back to you. This damages the trust you have been working so hard to create.
If your recipients are not feeling valued, they won’t be inclined to open your emails. Don’t insult them.
#20 Clean your list periodically
The easiest way to improve your email open rates? Get rid of the dead weight. Routinely clean your email list.
Target people who haven’t opened your emails in the last 18 months separately. Try to engage them and find out if they are still interested in hearing from you. Segmenting them and targeting them separately will improve your overall open rates.
If you can’t re-engage them, then think about if you really need these people to stay subscribed.
So there you have it.
These are my top twenty tips to double your email open rates. Some of them are tactics which will give you instant results while others work towards building a solid foundation and will give you results over time. Do both.
What would you add to list?
20 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Metrics
Want to learn how to improve your email open, click-through, unsubscribe, and complaint rates? Then get this guide and start optimizing your email campaigns today.