How to Increase Your Email Open Rate

All the marketing experts will tell you that the best way to grow your business is to build a list of subscribers, and that’s true, except… what’s the point of building a huge list of subscribers if no one is opening your emails to read what you have to say? As a marketer, increasing your email open rate should be a top priority.

This is a very real problem that marketers face every day whether they admit it or not. They have a huge list of subscribers that just don’t give a hoot. Why is that? After all, they voluntarily subscribed to your list so why is there a problem?

The answer is simple. Most subscribers become “numb” from the incessant, worthless emails sent to them day in and day out. They see who the emails are from then they delete the emails. They know it’s going to be a pitch for the latest and greatest gizmo, plugin, or course that ever hit the Internet. Really?

In fairness to affiliate marketers around the world, that’s their job. But, let’s face it… they can be smarter about it. Do they really need to inundate their own lists with affiliate offers daily, often times multiple times a day?

The first rule of email marketing is to establish a relationship with those subscribers on the list. I would add to that a “respectful relationship.” So how do we do this? Let’s start from the beginning.

Make a Good First Impression

You’ve probably heard the saying, “you only have one chance to make a good first impression.” While that is certainly true, if you establish proper email marketing protocols that you adhere to, not what someone else tells you to do, but your own, you will have a second chance to make things right if you flub up from time to time.

The place to start is at the beginning. The welcome message is typically sent right after a subscriber joins the list. And it is that message that sets the tone for future mailings and holds the power to shape the subscriber’s opinion of you.

Statistics show that welcome emails have an 86% higher open rate than bulk emails, have a 196% higher click-through rate, a 336% higher transaction rate, and 320% higher revenue than other promotional emails.

So as important as that welcome message is, did you know that only about 75% of brands even have a welcome message?

Arguably, the welcome email is the most important email in your auto responder and deserves the time and attention necessary to create it.

Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rate

Here are 4 tips to help your welcome email make a great first impression on your new subscribers.

Tip #1: Thank your subscribers

The first thing you need to do is thank your new subscribers for joining your email list. If you haven’t done so already, the welcome email is a perfect place to set the subscriber’s expectations as to what kinds of emails to expect from you in the future, as well as the frequency. By clearly setting the stage up front, you will help prevent misunderstandings and unhappy subscribers down the line.

Tip #2: Make them an offer

While this is optional, many successful marketers maintain that in this email (or download page if you offered an incentive to join your list) you take this opportunity to offer a relevant product at a deeply discounted price. The idea behind this is to convert the subscriber into a paid customer as quickly as possible. Again, you’re setting the tone but not being pushy as it is not the focal point of the email.

Tip #3: Personalize your messages

An Experian Marketing Services study shows that personalized email campaigns have six times higher transaction rates. Personalized emails also have a 29% higher open rate and 41% higher click-through rate than non-personalized emails. Greeting your subscribers by name is far more effective than greeting them with… that’s just rude.

Tip #4: Ask to be whitelisted

The welcome message is a good time to ask to be whitelisted. Ask your subscribers to add your email address to the whitelist as you want to make sure they receive your emails and to help prevent your messages from ending up in the spam folder. Again, this is not the focal point of the welcome message but inserting this request at the beginning or the end of the email will be sufficient.

Follow Through With Your Follow-Up

When creating your follow-up email series there are some points you should consider. It’s all well and good that your welcome message is a big hit, but what about the next email, and the next after that? How do you maintain the momentum? Here are 2 more tips to keep your email open rate high:

Email Open Rate Make your subject lines interesting

The email subject line must grab their attention. For example, if your email is promoting a report on traffic generation, don’t use a subject line like, “Traffic Generation Report.” That is not an interesting subject line. However, using a subject line like, “4 Highly Effective Ways of Building Traffic!” is far more interesting and far more likely to be opened.

You can spice it up; you can hype it a bit. And, you can even be entertaining. As long as what you’re providing is solid, a little hype is perfectly fine.

Email Open Rate Show off your personality

Don’t be afraid to show off your personality in your emails. You need to separate yourself from the pack. Most of your subscribers will be on several marketers’ lists and will be receiving emails daily.

Why should they open yours? What makes you different from the rest? Are you more interesting or entertaining? Are you more knowledgeable? Do you offer lots of value?

Whatever the case may be, you must stand out from the crowd. If you’re an expert at ranking keywords, for example, and you offer a tip to your subscribers every Monday, you can bet that a huge chunk of them will open your emails just because you are an expert on the subject.

And, they like you.

Improve Your Email Open Rate by Segmenting Your List

Another thing worth mentioning is you need to segment your list. Sending the same email to all your subscribers doesn’t work anymore and continuing to do so will most certainly affect your open rate.

At the very least, you need to create a buyers list to distinguish between subscribers and customers. As your subscribers turn into customers you need to move them to the buyer’s list.

Now you have a clearer picture of who is still on your list. One list is for general information; the other shows an interest in buying your products in the future. This is valuable information to have on hand, and will help when you’re planning your next email promotional campaign.

Segmenting your list won’t harm your open rate if that worries you. People who are inclined to read what you have to say will continue to do so. If you want to re-send your promotional series for your product to your list, that’s fine.

That being said, customers who already made the purchase won’t be inclined to open the promotional email if they already have the product. So don’t re-send the promotional series to those who already made the purchase. These are the folks on your buyer’s list… no harm, no foul.

Wrapping It Up

The key to maintaining a high email open rate is to start off on the right foot. Start with the best welcome message you can create; set the stage for your new subscribers. Then build a respectful relationship with your follow-up emails. Craft emails so imbued with your personality your subscribers anxiously await your next email!

You want your subscribers to anticipate your emails. You don’t want them to sigh every day when they go to their inbox and see a ton of emails from you. If the relationship is good and you offer value, your subscribers will look forward to hearing from you and open your emails. That’s a sure way to keep your email open rate high. And remember, people who open your emails will eventually buy from you.


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