6 Ways To Get More People To Open Your Emails

Author: Dan The Marketeer
Date: April 30, 2022

We’ve all been there — we write an amazing email, with a link inside of it which goes to a great looking landing page, which has an irresistible offer on it, and you sent it out to your database of thousands.

And it flops. You get barely anybody taking you up on your offer. Where did you go wrong?

There are many parts where things could have gone wrong — maybe your email wasn’t that well written in the first place. Maybe the page you link to isn’t actually that appealing. Or maybe, even, the offer you made wasn’t actually that good.

All of those reasons are entirely plausible, but there is one you need to look at first — getting people to open your email. Everything else counts for nothing if you don’t get people to open your email in the first place!

You see, people get an average of 30 emails in their personal inbox each day and near double that on their work emails. In an ideal world, people would have the time and interest to open and read each one, but they just don’t.

So you really need to fight to get your emails even noticed and opened by your recipient. You need to stand out from a lot of the rubbish that comes before and after your email. Fight for their attention for just a few seconds, and hook them.

There are six ways to make it more likely that somebody actually opens your email. Each of them can significantly increase your open rate, but if you do all six you will start to see amazing results through the compound effect.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

1. Test Different Email Subjects

An email’s subject is one of the biggest ways of catching somebody's attention as they briefly glance over their inbox. So by testing different subjects you can see which ones net you the highest open rate, and use those subjects more often.

But how do you come up with some subjects to test in the first place? You want to consider your email’s purpose.

There are four main types of email, each with its own purpose:

  1. Fulfilment
  2. Value
  3. Sales
  4. Abandon Cart

Once you identify which your email is, you can start putting together suitable subjects. Here’s some examples:

Fulfilment email

The primary purpose is to fulfil what your client has signed up for. So your subject must clearly state that. Here are a few potential subject lines you could try:

  • Your order is attached
  • Thank you!
  • Your product X has been dispatched
  • Invoice attached

Value email

The primary purpose is to build brand awareness and a following. So your subject must promote how you’re going to do that. Here are a few potential subjects you could try:

  • Let me do something special for you
  • We care about you
  • Free chapter of our book is attached
  • Do you struggle with XYZ?

Sales email

The primary purpose is to convert — whether that is to sell a product/service or take other actions. So your subject must directly mention the product and/or the benefits. Here are a few examples:

  • Free 30 Day Trial of X!
  • 25% off all orders until 9pm
  • You don’t need to suffer from XYZ any more
  • X is solving Y problem for people all around Z

Abandon cart email

The purpose is to convince people to go back and finish their conversion. So your subject must include benefits as well as a clear call to action:

  • Don’t forget your order!
  • Solve XYZ today!
  • Did you forget something?
  • I’ve reserved your X for 24 hours

Plus, there’s some other variables you can test on your subjects:

  • How long the subject is
  • If there are any personalised fields (such as first name)
  • Use of brackets ([{}])
  • Use of exclamation marks, asterisks and other symbols ! * & £ $ %
  • Use of capital letters
  • And even use of smileys 🙂

2. Testing Different Times and Days Of Send

You can test different times and days to send your emails. If you can do this correctly, you can catch your recipients at the right time, making it more likely they’ll open your email.

So what exactly are your options when sending emails? There are only 24 hours in a day, seven days a week.

There are a few points which may seem obvious but are important to take down:

  • Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. The chances are your audience is in one time zone or spread across several. So you need to send your emails when your audience is most active on their phones/emails—and awake! On that point too, if your target audience typically works nights, sleep days, then send your emails at night!
  • If you have an audience or list spread over more than one time zone, you need a way of segregating the emails between the different zones, to maximise the effectiveness of your emails.
  • The fulfilment email should be sent, where possible, instantly or as soon as possible. If the action they’ve taken requires a fulfilment email (signed up for a webinar/event, bought an online course, etc.), this needs to go as soon as possible if not instantly.

Test a few different times and see how their open rates compared.

3. Testing Different Email Frequencies

How OFTEN you send an email is another big influence on open rates. In basic numbers, you’d typically expect to get more conversions for the more emails you send. Makes sense, right?

But if you’re sending out a similar email every hour, you’re going to end up upsetting more people than converting them.

So it’s important to find, through optimisation, the right balance. For example, you send five emails in 24 hours inviting 1,000 people to your webinar:

  • Email 1–100 signups
  • Email 2–75 signups
  • Email 3–50 signups
  • Email 4–25 signups
  • Email 5–0 signups

Given these results, you may decide in the future to only send email 1–4 and not 5. That makes sense because email 5 gets no signups, right?

But you need to determine whether the signups in email 4, for example, were worth the repercussion and cost of that fourth email. How many people unsubscribed? How many complained?

Through testing, you’ll be able to determine the right frequency for your email sends. Remember though, the right frequency may be different for different types of emails.

4. Testing Different Sender Emails

Next up we have the actual email address which the email is going from. The impact this has can vary depending on whether or not a person’s email software includes viewing the sending address at the inbox.

That aside, it can still be a game changer what email address you send emails from for four very good and not always obvious reasons.

An email address whose meaning may seem obvious to you might not be obvious to your audience

It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally create addresses which appear questionable in nature. By that I simply mean they appear like a spam address, one which does not have good intentions by emailing them. Now you can counter this impression with what you put in your subject, which we’ve also covered, and also the first line of your email, which I’ll be coming to shortly.

Past usage of your address has given it a bad reputation

Old email addresses can easily have picked up a bad reputation, with or without good reason, over their long years of service. A bad reputation doesn’t simply mean that people may avoid your email if they see it come up. Entire chunks of your database may never receive an email from your address again if it has been blacklisted by their email provider. There are tests you can undergo online to determine if your addresses are blacklisted by certain providers, but if you’re in any doubt of the history of an old address — just make another!

What’s your email address’s branding?

Branding is another important factor to consider when determining what email address to send from. Aside from not looking like spam, it has to be worthy enough to represent you and your business. Now, what exactly does that mean? It needs to follow exactly the way you like to do business. Do you like to be swift, flashy, and fast? Or modest, respectful, and patient? What about what you promise to deliver? If it’s marketing advice, does the email have those keywords inside? Remember an email can be a great brand representative without containing the name of your business.

From email addresses can be used to segment your audience

Lastly, email addresses can be a great way of segmenting your audience, the type of email, and what it’s about. We know by now the different types of emails, so why not have addresses for each type which they can clearly relate to? If they like certain emails they get from you, they may search you in their inbox to bring up any emails they’ve missed. They should very easily be able to determine which emails they want to open and which they don’t. Again, other factors come into that decision, such as subject. As well as considering the email type, you can further segment. If you’re doing a sales email and you have ten categories of products, make the sending address on a specific category.

Test, test, and test some more — and the results will tell you what your audience prefers, and what to use for all your future emails!

5. Testing Different Email Sender Names

Alongside the sending address, the sender name can be a game changer too. While not all email providers show sending addresses straight away, you can almost guarantee they will show the sender name — so choose it carefully!

The main things to consider about the sender name, which have already been covered with the sender address, are branding and segmentation.

Your name must represent your brand, your message, your values. It must also clearly represent the purpose and contents of the email.

And of course, don’t forget to avoid making the sender name sound like spam or, worse yet, outright questionable in nature.

6. Testing Different Email First Lines

In recent years and in aid of providing the best service to their clients, many email providers have turned to providing previews of emails without having to open them.

Now different providers allow different previews in different formats on different technologies. But one preview that is almost always available to users is simply the first line of the email, besides just the opening “Dear X,” “To Y,” or “Hey Z.”

If somebody has reached the point where they’re reading the first line, you’ve nearly got them to commit to opening and at least reading some of your email. You’ve worked hard to get them to this point, by having a great subject and sending name/address, as well as sending the email at the right time and in the right frequency.

Now is not the time to get complacent and risk blowing it all, so read carefully…

Similar to what we’ve already covered, the first line needs to represent what the email is about. People don’t want to expect one thing only to find that the email itself is on something else, that’s misleading.

What you can do, however, is tease them. Tease the value and benefits of opening and reading the rest of the email. Make them fearful of missing out, make it impossible for them to resist the urge to delve a little further.

So how can you do this?

And there is your answer: ask them a question!

Questions serve as a great way of teasing your audience to find out more or find out the answer. It also helps them relate themselves to the context of the question.

For example: “Would you like to learn how to improve the opening rate of your emails in six easy steps?”

Questions also help you to segment your audience to put off people you don’t necessarily want to open your email. You don’t want 100 people opening your sales email if they have no interest in buying. So ask a question that will put those people off.

And yes, you’ve guessed it, test different first lines to see which teases your recipient into opening your email!

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