When it comes to connecting with customers via email, one of your biggest hurdles is simply getting noticed. Your average customer’s inbox is teeming with competing messages and sales pitches.
So what does it take to ensure your email stands out, gets opened, and gets read?
We’re going to provide you with 13 proven tactics that will increase your email open rates for existing contact lists and cold email campaigns.
If you’re sending outbound emails to grow your business, you have 5 main levers that you can use to increase your open rate:
- Subject line
- Preview/intro text (preheader text)
- Sender name/address
Source: Campaign Monitor
This article will break down specific strategies for addressing each of these variables and maximizing the effectiveness of every message you send.
Even your most brilliant email campaigns won’t do your business any favors if nobody reads them. Fortunately, these tried-and-true strategies will help get your message delivered - and opened - successfully.
The first thing most people think of when it comes to optimizing your email open rate is the subject line. And there’s no doubt--it’s hugely important.
It’s the first thing most people see when your email lands in their inbox, and a bad subject line can get your email deleted just as quickly as it arrives. MailChimp has done some extensive research on specific words and phrasing that may make your subject line stand out.
Let’s look at some tricks for optimizing your subject line to entice interest and get your email opened by important people.
1. Personalize it with a name
According to Mailchimp’s report on email subject lines (based on 24 billion emails!), subject lines that include the recipient’s first and last name have the highest open rates.
But subject lines can also be personalized based on other customer data, such as geographic location, company name, and job title. For cold email especially, you should gather as much information about your prospect and use various personalization techniques to see what resonates best with your audience.
Subject lines that are personalized in any way have a 22.2% greater chance of being opened, according to a report from Adestra.
- Is this right, John?
- John Smith + Michael Jordan connect
- Question for John Smith
2. Keep the subject line short (6-10 words)
In the world of email, your subject is your headline.
It’s your chance to catch the recipient’s eye and persuade them to open your message, ideally in as few words as possible.
A study from Retention Science found that subject lines with 6 to 10 words had the highest open rates. This makes sense, as it’s probably the ideal length to communicate an idea, but not long enough to feel salesy or spammy.
Some of the most famous examples of succinct subject lines came from an unlikely source – a presidential campaign.
To keep your character count down without sacrificing salience, consider quoting relevant numbers or statistics, asking a question, and even using emojis if appropriate.
3. Get emotional in your subject
The folks at CoSchedule found that emails with subject lines that appeal emotionally to the reader perform better than those that appeal to our rational thoughts.
You can put this into practice by looking at examples of emotion-driven headlines or messages in other forms of marketing.
The Advanced Marketing Institute even provides a headline analyzer than can tell you about the emotional appeal of your subject line--nice for getting an idea about how your prospect may read your message.
- John - You'll love this
- Acme Company is killing it!
- I'm sorry for this, John
4. Create a knowledge gap to spark curiosity
Knowledge gaps are the cliffhanger endings of email marketing.
They provide just enough information to pique the recipient’s interest without revealing too much. Leveraging knowledge gaps (also known as curiosity gaps, the basis for those aptly-named clickbait headlines) is a psychological trick that drives email recipients to seek more information.
This technique can work well for one-off subject lines as well as a multi-step campaign. Adding a knowledge gap to your subject line might involve asking a question or hinting at the value of your email content – anything that makes your email too irresistible to leave unopened.
In other words, leave a bit to the imagination to get people clicking.
- You won't guess what just happened
- Check this out, John
- This is what it's like
- Here's why we do this