Expert Tips on How to Increase Email Marketing Open Rate

Here’s the deal:

Increasing email open rate is a worthy goal of any company running marketing campaigns or reaching out to prospective customers. IgnitePost has previously highlighted the benefits of physical outreach and its improved response rate in comparison to email campaigns, but both forms of outreach can be used effectively together. We’ve also highlighted the different approaches companies can take to improve their results from cold outreach.

You might be wondering:

What if recipients aren’t even opening your emails? To help provide our readers with some insider tips on increasing email open rates, we reached out to several experts in e-commerce to get their opinions on how to increase their email open rates.


Kevin Urrutia from Voy Media notes that a great subject line can go a long way.

“Based on our metrics, we have seen up to 80% open rates using this simple subject line: “Personal Hello from the Founder!”

What’s inside the email?

We keep it simple. Plain text and a sincere thank you for visiting the store. It also includes a way to reach out to the founder to ask any questions or get any help they may need.” - Kevin Urrutia

We received similar feedback from Juliana Casale of Crazy Egg.

“Have you ever watched a movie and been dissapointed because you could predict plot twists before they happened? Well, email subject lines are very similar. People receive dozens of emails from companies every day, and they see the same words and techniques used over and over. They've grown bored, and it's our fault, because marketers tend to follow industry best practices (Ex: Use the word "you"! Numbers always work!)

To get better email open rates, you need to shake things up. Inject personality. Say the unexpected. Some of the best emails I receive contain humor, or puns. Others throw crazy stats at me, or ask questions that make me think. If you want to get away from the same stale open rates you've always gotten, you have to try something different. And the great thing about email is, you can see if this approach is working fairly instantly.” - Juliana Casale

Personalizing email subject lines is a great way to appeal to prospects when they are skimming through their inboxes. Many people know that emails are often sent out in mass campaigns, so it is useful to break away from that image. Don’t be afraid to test!

subject lines.jpg
 

Speaking of testing - you can personalize your subject line based on who you’re reaching out to.  Adam Pearce of Blend Commerce says he’s seen great success with that strategy:

“One of the common tactics we recommend to our clients is personalization of subject line by location. If clients are using tools like Klaviyo, it’s simple to create segments of a list by city or state. The subject line for each city/state can then be personalized to generate better interest. For example 'What’s up New York?' or 'We're ready for you Boston'. We've seen open rates of between 60-80% on a split test of this, so well worth a try for your business.” - Adam Pearce

 

Now:

Building off personalization, our experts emphasized the importance of having updated, targeted contact list. It’s crucial to target people who want to be receiving your emails and you don’t want this list to be out of date.

Lorna Ladd of Zesty Digital Marketing provided some insight into how the target contact list can affect an email’s open rate.

"The best thing you can do to increase the open rate is to make sure you are sending the email to an engaged list. That is people who actually want to read what you have to say. You can do this by segmenting your master list. For example if you’re selling pet supplies, first segment the list for people who are dog owners and cat owners. Then you further segment by types of products the person had bought or shown Interest in. If you don’t have this type of information you should start collecting it, and it’s easy to do with a tool like Klaviyo. We always say that awesome marketing is sending the right message to the right person and just the right time. 

Something more gimmicky we did recently that got us a 30% open rate was by using the subject and preview text... we wrote it like it was a message from a friend.” - Lorna Ladd

Andriy Boychuk from Email Marketing NYC also mentioned the importance of having an updated contact list. He went so far as to say it was more important that the subject line:

“Many people are focusing on the subject line. However, it is secondary thing you should focus on. The subscriber should receive your email first before they decide if they want to open it or not. The list hygiene is one of the most important maintenance part of email marketing which will affect your open rate.” - Andriy Boychuk

Be sure to prune and update your contact list regularly. Also be sure to use a relevant segmented contact list depending on the content of your email. Also notice that in a similar way to standing out with a unique subject line, Lorna stood out with unique preview text. It might sound “gimmickybut these are the types of tips that can help your email stand out in the clutter of a busy inbox.

contact list.png
 

Bostjan Belingar from Hustler Marketing gave us a pro tip for increasing the likelihood your email gets delivered to the intended recipient.

“Sometimes email open rate is all about deliverability - especially if you are battling spam and low open rates. So for one of our clients, we simply sent a plain text email to start off the big promotion we had planned, and got about 30% open rates, compared to their usual 10%. Try it out!” - Bostjan Belingar

Snezana Velkovska of Essence of Email told us that segmentation was the key to successful email outreach.

“List segmentation is a recipe for success.

One of the most effective techniques for increasing email open rates is sending to selected email list segments, as opposed to sending to your whole list.

In particular, what has worked great is sending content based on: 1. Preferences that users select when they join the email list; 2. Interest-based behavior, such as previous purchases, interest in specific content, and cart abandonment.

Using this technique for over 200 clients, we have seen open rates grow from 9-14% to over 25%, leading to a significant boost in email clicks and sales.” - Snezana Velkovska

segmentation.jpg

But here’s the kicker:

Subject lines, personalization, contact lists, and segmentation are all crucial, but at the end of the day content is what is going to keep customers coming back. Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom.

Joe Rozsa of Launch Commerce focused on the content of the email as a way to build behaviors to ensure customers open your future emails:

“The key to increasing open rates is more of a long term, overall approach and that is "deliver quality content that people want to know about". Sure, there are ideas about how to word your subject line, and choosing the proper keywords to use. But if you are consistently trying to sell to people, or providing boring, not relevant information to a customer, then they are going to quickly learn that they can skip your email and not really miss much. Think of the customer first, and if what you are delivering to them provides value that they will benefit from or not.” - Joe Rozsa

Chronos Agency’s Louis Teo and Dami Ladele of Dami Ladele Consulting  gave us similar feedback on the importance of the email content. Louis said, 

“Sending emails that people want to read. That's the fundamental rule governing email open rates. If you're sending emails with content that people don't want to read (i.e not benefiting them), people stop opening them, and this signals to the email service providers (ESPs) that you're not sending relevant content and they will slowly banish you to the spam folder

One of the things we did was to ask people what content they would like to receive from us. From there, we segment the list based on recipient's preference and send them the right emails. In the long term, we saw a 5.6x increase in repeat purchase from emails after 4 months” - Louis Teo

And Dami told us, 

“Build goodwill with email subscribers i.e. develop the client's reputation as a company that sends quality emails which makes subscribers eager to hear from them. We also do this using a very recognizable and personal "From" name.” - Dami Ladele

content.jpg

These 10 tips from the experts should be a jumping off point for improving the open rate of your next email campaign. The underlying theme is to attempt to stand out and provide unique and personalized content that will get a recipient to open the email. As you continue to improve your email open rates, be sure to use your email campaigns in conjunction with real mail outreach campaigns. We’ve found the response rate on mail outreach campaigns to be higher than email campaigns, so eventually you can have a high level of engagement with your customers or potential customers through multiple channels.


About IgnitePost

IgnitePost is a handwritten mail & analytics service.  It is the easiest, most convenient, and most effective way to send personalized handwritten cards to any client, customer, or prospect. Relationships are critical to sales.  We create the meaningful connections that enable more sales.  We do this by providing the best, highly personalized mail outreach service available in a turnkey manner!

Interested in learning more or seeing how we can help you hit your goals? Contact us today: support@ignitepost.com.