We share 7 proven strategies to improve your email open rates. Try them out and give your email content a chance to convert.

Email is one of the highest converting marketing channels and few activities drive a higher ROI than building an email list. But having 50,000 email subscribers doesn’t really matter if you can’t get any of them to open your emails.

We’ll show you seven relatively simple (yet criminally underused) strategies that are GUARANTEED to improve your email open rates. By the end of this article, you will have an actionable plan for significantly boosting the ROI of every email you send.

7 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

7 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

1. The Best Way to Improve Your Email Open Rate: Work on Your Subject Lines

Your email is desperately fighting for attention in your prospect’s inbox. Your job is to differentiate yourself within that inbox, and the only way to do that is with your email subject line. But it’s not just about standing out. What is most important to boost those email open rates is that your subject line is relevant to your audience.

Let’s take a look at some examples from my inbox:

Work on your subject lines if you want to improve your email open rates.

Work on your subject lines if you want to improve your email open rates.

  1. Sujan’s email uses a pretty standard article headline. This will really only appeal to me if I want to get more out of my video, and that’s actually a good thing. Using a good blog headline is usually a fine strategy for email subject lines.
  2. Brian’s email will appeal to me if I feel confused or have been searching for some specific answers. That said, this subject line won’t really be enough unless I already have built some trust with the sender. In this case, Brian has already done a great job of establishing himself as my go-to SEO expert, so it works.
  3. Mary’s subject line makes use of an eye-catching emoji, which is good for differentiation. At the same time, the promise is a bit too broad for someone like me to be interested. In all likelihood, however, Mary is targeting a less experienced audience, which might be intrigued by this subject line.
  4. Drew’s subject line is a bit confusing, but it also provokes my curiosity. He is hooking me in with this idea of “9/10 experts DISAGREE”. That’s interesting, and now I’m curious to see what they disagree about.

Remember that the goal of a subject line is not to get just anyone to open the email. You have a specific audience you’ve built, and it’s important to use the types of headlines that will resonate with that audience.

Want more examples? Get inspired by these 165 great email subject lines.

2. Match Your Lead Magnet To Your Content To Your Product

There’s a lot of content out there about how to build an email list. But one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses and bloggers make is thinking too short-term with their lead magnets and other lead acquisition strategies.

Email marketing is a scalable form of relationship marketing. It’s meant to be a long term pursuit, and accordingly, it’s important that what you are talking about remains consistent throughout that process.

If you attract someone to your list via an ebook on increasing web traffic, then start emailing them about how to run an ecommerce store, and then try to sell them a product on increasing productivity, you won’t have much success.

Every part of your sales funnel should be designed to appeal to the same customer profile.

When someone signs up to your list to hear about a given topic, the emails they receive should also be on that topic. By aligning your lead magnets, emails, and products, you can significantly improve your conversion rates across the board.

3. Split Test Until You Find The Optimal Send Time

One of the easiest ways to increase your open rate is to send your emails at the right time.

How do you find the right time? Two words: AB testing

This requires a little bit of intentionality upfront, but it’s so easy to do, and it can have a MASSIVE impact on the reach of your content.

Here’s one way to do it.

Schedule your next 7 emails to go out on different days of the week. For each email, break your subscribers into 4 identical groups and send to each group at a different time of the day.

This will give you a total of 28 different send times to compare against each other. If you have a smaller list, you might need to run this experiment several times in order to get statistically significant results, but what you should start to see is that certain days and times will consistently perform better than others.

By sending at these optimal times, you can significantly boost your open rates.

4. Delete Prospects that Never Open your Emails

Sometimes email subscribers just have to go. It’s hard to part with those emails you spent so much effort collecting but evidently they are not responding to your standard email campaigns. Cleanse your email list regularly as it will also help you improve deliverability. Gmail and Yahoo emails will pick up on this and send your email to their junk folder where nobody can see it, much less open it. And this makes a huge difference to your email open rates!

If you don’t want to get rid of them, split your audience and send them a very different kind of email. A farewell email. Help them move on or open your email to stay.

5. Deliverability is Key to Improve Your Email Open Rates: Resend To Unopens

This is the easiest strategy we’ll discuss today. Even when you do everything right, a lot of your emails will never even be seen.

Thanks to Gmail’s inbox categorization. A lot of emails now fall under the promos tab. There are some things you can do to try and get in the primary inbox, but that’s a bit too complicated for today’s post, so instead, I’m sharing a simple trick that anyone can use to instantly increase opens, often by an additional 25%.

Simply resend the email to anyone who didn’t open it up the first time. I like to wait around 3 days to resend, but you can experiment for yourself and see what happens.

Resend emails to increase your email open rates.

One email is nice, but two could get the job done.

In the example above, the original email performed pretty well, so the resend was a bit less powerful than usual. But even if your list is as small as 5,000 subscribers, that additional 7% in total opens means nearly 400 more people are seeing your message.

6. Be Authentic: The Email Campaign Subscribers Look Forward to Opening

One of the first things people notice when signing up to a new email list is tone.

A lot of marketers and business owners nowadays are just running email marketing because they’ve been told to. They are following a template and trying to sell products. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it’s very, VERY obvious to your readers.

The most successful email marketing campaigns often come from the biggest personalities. When you sign up for their list, you aren’t introduced to a sales pitch. You are introduced to a personality.

You read personal stories about their background and experiences. You read about their fears and failures and ultimately, their successes.

Pretty soon, you feel like you know this person sending you these emails.

That’s the power of being personal.

And while I can’t teach you to have a personality, I can give you some pointers:

  • Start your emails with brief, relevant anecdotes
  • Use a conversational tone in your writing
  • Talk about real failures and successes that you and your customers have experienced
  • Always be relevant to your audience

Being personal is not hard, but it does require you to get out of “marketer mode” from time to time.

7. Authenticate your Email Sender: SPF, DKIM, DMARC

If your emails are not reaching the inbox of your subscribers then your email will never be opened. If you want to improve your email open rates, prove to the servers – particularly big corporation servers – and subscribers that it is really you who is sending out the emails.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get your email authentication going.

Setup Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Authentication.

Setup DKIM Authentication (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to help detect forged addresses in an email.

Enable DMARC protocol to protect your email from spoofing.

Conclusion: Increase Your Email Open Rates

Let’s review:

  1. Work on Your Subject Lines
  2. Keep customer targeting consistent from lead to sale
  3. Split test until you find optimal send times
  4. Cleanse your Email Lists Regularly
  5. Deliverability is Key to Improve Your Email Open Rates: Resend To Unopens
  6. Include personal elements (particular stories) in your emails
  7. Authenticate your Email Sender: SPF, DKIM, DMARC

By implementing these strategies, you can immediately increase the open rates of your email campaigns.

Easy.

Before you go, we’d love to hear from you. Have you tried any of these strategies or do you have any tips of your own to add?

Let us know in the comments!

Conversion Sciences Team
5 replies
  1. Jessica Best says:

    Great stuff! Question: If the ask is download or purchase, have you tried re-sending not just to non-openers but to ALL recipients? Those that opened but didn’t click or opened and clicked but didn’t download (yet) maybe among your best prospects in the 2nd email! Everyone can usually use a reminder :)

    Reply
    • Jacob McMillen says:

      Hey Jessica, great question. The main strategy behind re-sending to un-opens is to get the email back in front of people who may have lost it in their inbox or promo folders, or even people who glanced at the headline and weren’t in a place to click. Some ESPs allow you to change the headline on resends, which I always do.
      For what you are talking about – people who opened the email but didn’t click – a better strategy would be to send a follow-up email as opposed to simply re-sending the original email. If they read the email but failed to click, there is a reason for that, so adding new information in a follow-up email will give you a better chance to nudge them over the decision hump as opposed to simply sending them the exact same email.

      Reply
  2. Nancy says:

    The two strategies that have worked very well for us is: 1) delete people that never open the emails and 2) authenticate the emails – we use Emailistverify to do our email cleanups often. We saw our email open rates jump by over 10% by just doing this. Thanks for the rest of the insights.

    Reply

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