For email marketers, there are few things more nerve-wracking than the anticipation you get after hitting send. Unlike other types of marketing, you've only got one chance with an email send to get someone to open your email. You cross your fingers and hope. Will people open this email? Will they hit spam? Will they actually click on it? Pleaseohpleaseohplease go well.
Wouldn't it be nice to know beforehand if your email would get opened?
Full disclosure: You won't be able to predict the future. But you can stack the deck in your favor by following a few best practices for increasing email open rates. Even though open rates shouldn't be the only metric you base your success on, it's still important to optimize for opens -- after all, people need to open your email to be able to click on it.
Want to read the transcript instead of watching the video above? Here you go:
How to Get More People to Open Your Emails [Transcription]
Raise your hand if you wish you had more email every day?
Anybody? You? ... Yeah, I didn't think so.
Let's face it: Every email inbox in the world is completely cluttered. From those annoying LinkedIn notifications and the Twitter email that fires off every time someone new follows you, we've been completely inundated.
So as a marketer, you've got a lot to compete with. When you're going up against all of those emails, your email has to stand out.
And the best way to do that? Write a compelling subject line. Today I’m going to give you three tips to improve your subject lines so you can increase your engagement and improve your open rates.
Tip #1: Optimize Your Sender Name and Preview Text
Let's just take a minute and look at your inbox. What do you see? In most email providers this a typical message layout. It has three elements:
- Sender name
- Subject line
- Message preview
These are the three elements that your reader will see and that will most influence them to open your message.
The key to optimizing your sender name is to make it something that is easily recognizable to your subscribers so they want to open it. For most companies, this mean your sender name includes your company name.
But there's lots of ways you can get creative here.
We conducted a test to compare a generic “HubSpot” sender name to a personal name of someone from the marketing team. Our control generated a 0.73% CTR, and the personalized version generated a 0.96% CTR. With a confidence level of 99.9%, we had a clear winner. Our conclusion after conducting this A/B test was that emails sent by a real person are more likely to be clicked on than emails sent from a company name.
On your next email send, try changing out your sender name from your company name to your personal name.
The preview text is a little easier -- it should be something that follows up to your subject line. Maybe it answers your subject line's question, or just follows along with the same theme. For example, check out this awesome preview from BuzzFeed's email:
It made me laugh ... and I opened the email.
Don't forget about your "From" field and preview text. These are just as important as the subject line.
Tip #2: Personalize Your Subject Lines
A recent MarketingSherpa case study showed that personalized email subject lines can increase your clickthrough rates by 17.36%. But, most companies underutilize personalization or completely leave it out all together. If you have the data to personalize your subject lines, then use it.
You can get higher clickthrough rates by testing first name and full name personalizations in your subject lines. For example, if your email recipient has recently downloaded a piece of content, try personalizing the subject by thanking them and sharing a reminder link to that content. Include their first names or even add something about their specific location.
You definitely don't want to go overboard here. You can easily cross the line to creepy-company-who's-stalking-their-customer mode, and no one want to go there. Adding these little personal touches shows that you care about them -- not just getting their email address.
Tip #3: Avoid SPAM Triggers
Email spammers rely heavily on certain words to boost their open rates. Because of this, email providers use spam filters to keep out emails using these words.
As an email marketer, you need to know what these words are and avoid them. You need to avoid using words like “Cash,” “Quote,” and “Save.”
That being said, spam filters look at more than just subject lines to determine if they will deliver your email. For example, “Free” is a traditionally spammy subject line word, but you would notice that we included it in our “101 Companies Rocking Social Media” subject line.
We did a lot of background research to make sure this word wouldn’t work against us. Because we have a solid sender reputation, and we were sending out an email from a real person, including “free” in this line didn’t impact the email’s deliverability.
Moral of the story here is to be wary of spam trigger words. Don't avoid them completely, but use them in a way that is non-spammy.
So, remember … personalize your subejct lines, test your preview text and sender name, and avoid using spam triggers. These little tweaks could help you get found, opened, and engaged with in your subscribers’ busy inboxes. Until next time, happy marketing.