9 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Email Open Rates

Author: Caron Beesley | April 1, 2015

Despite the rise of social media, email is still our favorite form of communication. It also boasts the highest return on investment for your marketing dollars ($40 for every $1 spent).

But getting the attention of prospects and customers in their crowded inbox isn’t easy. That’s why it’s so important to get your subject line right. 33% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone, yet so many marketers overlook that small window of text.

Remember, aside from the “From” field, the subject line is the first thing that recipients see before opening an email. This is your one opportunity to stand out – so spend some time getting it right, test it, and treat it with the respect it deserves.

Here are nine tips for improving your email open rates by optimizing your subject line:

1) Get Personal, Use Names
This may sound odd, but studies show that click-through rates are higher when the recipients first name is mentioned in the subject line – increasing open rates by 9-25% (Marketing Sherpa). For example: “Caron, your new wardrobe awaits” or “Caron, It’s Time to Schedule your Next Appointment”.

2) Be Concise
Aim for conciseness with your subject lines. 28-39 characters fair far better than those with 4-15 characters. But don’t go too long, mobile devices may cut off lengthy subject lines.

3) Don’t Compromise Quality
Quantity may be important, but so is quality. “This Dress is a Closet Changer” is infinitely more enticing than “Check out this Season’s Latest Dresses”.

4) Use the Right Words
According to HubSpot, the most-clicked lead nurturing subject line words include “secrets”, “e-sales” and “awesome”. Of course, there are also SPAM trigger words that you should avoid, including “free”, “reminder”, winner”, “percent off” and lots more.

5. Don’t Mislead
Don’t trick recipients into reading your email only to find out that the content doesn’t reflect the subject line. They’ll feel duped and move on. For example, make sure “special offers” really are that, and that no further action is required to claim the offer, like attending an event or downloading a resource to access the promotion. The offer should be available within the body of the email.

6. Optimize Subject Lines for Mobile Devices
38% of email is now opened on a mobile device, yet most email marketers don’t take this into consideration when writing subject lines or design email templates. Most smartphones have limited viewing area, so be sure not to run your subject lines too long. If you’re not sure, test them first. Then make sure your subject line is compelling. Try to get the meat of the message in first: “Clearance Sale Starts Now…”

7. Localize
Depending on the industry your business is in or who you are targeting, adding the name of the recipient’s city or town to the subject line can boost open rates. For example: “Raleigh – You Haven’t Seen Anything Like This” or “New This Week – Check out the Deals at our Alexandria Store”.

8. Drive Action
Make sure that your subject line clearly conveys to the reader what you want them to do. Use action words that encourage readers to take the next step and find out what’s in your email. For example, add deadlines to special offers, this can dramatically boost open rates. Don’t get too salesy though when offering incentives.

9. Test Your Subject Lines
Use A/B testing protocols to see how one subject line (A) performs against another (B) for the same campaign.

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