#186: How to Increase Your Email Open Rate

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In This Episode…

In this, the second episode in our email marketing mini-series, I will be talking about the main ways you can increase your email open rate.

The single biggest hurdle to business emails is actually getting your recipients to open them. Companies often spend hours crafting the perfect emails—and most never even get opened, and as I’m sure you are all aware, email marketing is only effective when the people on your email list actually open your emails.

A lot of established businesses find that over time, their email open rate decreases to 20%, 10%, and even 5% and they don’t know what to do about it. This, coupled with the fact that most people’s emails now disappear into the dreaded ‘promotions’ inbox in Gmail, rather than their primary feed, means getting leads to click through on your emails has never been more challenging.

Well not to worry, I am here to help.

I will be imparting the wisdom behind how to get into the mindset of your email recipients, creating great subject lines that trigger curiosity and writing killer copy that educates your recipients.

Understanding the Mindset of Your Email Recipients

When it comes to managing their inbox, there are two types of people in this world:

  1. Inbox Zero – these are the people who clear their inbox every day.
  2. Notification Numbness – these are the people with thousands of unread emails in their inbox folders.

Though these two groups of people have very different ways of managing their emails, when they do receive a new email they both respond in the same way. It is to mentally ask themself ‘can I ignore or delete this email?’.

Peoples’ default setting when it comes to emails isn’t to open every new one they receive but delete or ignore them. Therefore, when it comes to trying to increase your email open rates, you need to make sure your emails are offering your recipients something that is of value and relevant to them to increase the chances of them opening it.

To do this, you want to make your email recipients perceive that there is value to them in opening your email, i.e that they will gain something from opening it.

This means you need to avoid content that they won’t be interested in, which sounds obvious but it can be tricky in practice. When conceptualising an email topic for a business email, consider whether it is information you would send to a friend. You are unlikely to send your friend a list of awards your business may have won, or information on the new shelving you are using in your warehouse, because, quite frankly, they probably won’t care, and neither will your email recipients, so don’t send it.

You also want to avoid sending out emails that look and feel like mass broadcast emails. If your recipients feel that your email looks like a typical company promotions email, they will feel they can ignore it easily and it will be heading straight to their trash folder.

Simply put, you need to make your emails unignorable.

Email Subject Lines

Your email subject line serves as a first—and sometimes last—impression. The sole job of the subject line is to get the email opened.

So even though we often write subject lines as afterthoughts, in many ways they’re actually more important than the body copy of your email. After all, the greatest email in the world is worthless if it never gets opened, right?

The two most important factors that go into increasing your email open rates are:

  • The recipient’s perceived value in the email subject line
  • The recipient’s relationship with the sender

As a result, successful emails start with a subject line that grabs the attention of your recipients. Good subject lines are often personal or descriptive and give people a reason to check out your content. They arouse curiosity. For example, one of the most successful emails we have sent out at Exposure Ninja had the subject line; Please don’t lie to my wife. Short, snappy and definitely intriguing, the email with this subject line got very high open rates.

That being said, the subject line should always be relevant to the content of the email, otherwise, you will be annoying your recipients with clickbait. This ultimately will result in low open rates and conversions, as well as a reduction in the trust of your business.

Email Body Copy

It is also important to ensure the content of your email body is compelling. This will help future open rates, as your recipients will know that your email is not one to miss and that they gain value from opening it.

In order to achieve this, you have to sound like a real person. In the body of your emails, avoid marketing speak and be conversational as if you’re talking to someone who’s sitting across the table from you.

To make this easier, and to help build a relationship with your email recipients, it is a good idea to use the voice of a business figurehead/spokesperson in your emails who can build a relationship with your email list. For example, at Exposure Ninja, we use the personality of our Head Ninja Tim when writing our business emails. This works because people are more likely to open emails from people they know and so you can build up familiarity between your figurehead and your email list, which will hopefully increase your email open rate.

If you do want to significantly increase your email open rate, you should also consider opting for plain text emails over HTML and heavily-formatted emails. Heavily formatted emails instantly signal to your recipients that it is an email from a company and so they see it as being more ignorable.

Also, where possible, you should avoid generic marketing in favour of targeted marketing. Customer avatars give you broad segments you can focus on in copywriting, but within those, there are also smaller segments. After all, you’re not going to send the same email to a new subscriber as to a repeat customer, are you?

Lastly, when it comes to email copy, don’t be boring. There’s no rule that says that emails from a business have to be dry. Use your emails to stir readers’ imagination. When your subscribers can imagine themselves in your shoes, you’ll start to build a relationship with them.

Find Out More

Watch or listen to the video or podcast to gain further insight into all the different ways you can increase your email open rates. If you want more suggestions and advice, then request a free review of your website via this link: https://exposureninja.com/review/


00:00 — Introduction
02:42 — Understanding the Mindset of Your Email Recipients
04:42 — Email Subject Lines
10:33 — The Email Copy

You May Also Enjoy…

#157: How to Get More of Your Emails Opened, Read and Clicked
#179: 8 Reasons Why Your Conversion Rate Is Low
#181: How To Double Your Conversion Rate Overnight

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