Want 60-70% Open Rates on Your Emails? Here’s How I Do It


This is a guest post by Andreas of London Cyclist.

He contacted me asking if he could share how he’s achieved increased open rates for his email marketing campaigns. I think you’ll enjoy his story and advice.

Take it away, Andreas! -Justin Premick

Listening in awe to a highly accomplished blogger about how she built her email list, I only had one burning question in my mind.

When the presentation was over, I eagerly worked my way through the crowd and asked: “I’m getting email open rates between 60-70%… what can I do to get it higher?”

The blogger looked at me a little shocked.

It Turns Out 60-70% Constitutes a High Open Rate

She sat down with me and we pinned down the key things that were contributing to the success.

Four of these you can easily implement in the next hour, while the last one will take a little longer.

Whilst I wouldn’t recommend you use email open rate as your only key metric, it’s one of those things that as email marketers our eyes can’t help drifting towards.

Here’s how I maximize mine.

Find Your Perfect Time and Stick To It

Through testing I’ve found the perfect time to send out my emails. Now, I stick to it religiously.

To achieve the same result, try split testing your emails and seeing which one receives the highest engagement.

Once you’ve found the perfect time, deliver on it consistently. This way subscribers come to expect it. Most of my subscribers get to work, flip open their email and grab a cup of tea while they read my newsletter.

Use The Headline and First Sentence Effectively

We all know a well written headline will tempt someone to open an email. But did you know there’s a another key thing subscribers see when they are deciding whether to open your email or not?

It’s the first sentence inside the email. I’m often disappointed to see most email marketers are missing this opportunity to lure people into reading the email.

I typically receive emails where the first line inside the email reads: “Click here if you cannot see this email correctly”. Hardly attention grabbing!

The first item in my email newsletter is my logo. I’ve set the alternative text inside the logo to a secondary headline I use to lure people into the email.

The HTML You Need For This

<a href=”http://www.example.com/” ><img src=”Put the URL of your logo here” alt=”Put your secondary headline here” border=”0″ /></a>

Deliver Exclusivity

My subscribers often receive content that is not available on the blog.

Whether that be an exclusive competition, a new article or something a little bit more personal about me or the site that I wouldn’t share on the blog. This gives subscribers an extra reason to be vigilant about opening my emails.

My open rates often skyrocket when there is content in the newsletter that cannot be found elsewhere.

Draw People Into the Next Email

Another method to make sure people are opening the emails you are sending out is to point out what is coming up next. If one of the topics in your next email strikes their interest then they’ll look out for it. I do this by simply having a “Next Week” section at the bottom of my e-mails.

The Big Secret

The above four techniques can be instantly applied to great effect. The final suggestion takes a little longer.

If you sat me down in a quiet cafe and pushed me further on the techniques that have worked I would lean back, scratch my head and tell you this:

Treat your email subscribers like you treat your best friends. Take an interest in them, learn what their needs and fears are and then create content and products that will suit them perfectly. Then they will always be eager for your next email.

Your Steps to Take for Higher Open Rates


Andreas Kambanis started London Cyclist when he saw the need for a place for casual cyclists to meet and exchange tips online. He uses email marketing to sell his own products such as the London Cycle Routes eBook and affiliate offers. You can check out his newsletter here.

By:
Justin Premick is the former Director of Educational Products at AWeber.

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36 Comments

  1. Thanks for these tips. Very helpful. I didn’t quite understand what you meant by your alternate text for a secondary headline, so I figured the best way to find out was to subscribe to your newsletter!

    4/28/2011 9:52 am
  2. Back again and I subscribed to your cyclist newsletter. I’m assuming you basically meant to put a link behind your logo that takes the person to the newsletter item at your web site, yes?

    4/28/2011 10:47 am
  3. Excellent! Thank you for sharing your information on successful emails. I will begin a timely ritual of sending out information. This should help to keep my readers involved.

    I knew the headline should be great but I didn’t even take into consideration my first line in the content. Thanks again!

    4/28/2011 1:34 pm
  4. Great post Justin and Andreas-

    I love checklists like this as it gives solid principles for successful “ingredients” . . .

    I also like making sure that the first line still uses a curiosity or value approach to continue drawing attention and interest to get the person to open.

    One thing I read from the late Gary Halberg was that the first biggest challenge was to get the subscriber or reader to “open” your mail. . .

    No open- no sale

    Another thing I read and tested with a direct mail advertising client, targeting dentists for training programs was to send the mail piece in a hand-written envelope with a PO Box or even no return address. . .

    It will definitely get opened vs. a commercial flyer where they can instantly judge and pile or file the direct mail piece.

    Some people might think it is shady or takes extra work, but if they don’t open it, they obviously go no further.

    I also forget about continuity sometimes in branding and in priming your readers to have their interests more piqued for the next installment or newsletter-

    This is a great reminder to keep the conversation and connection going.

    Justin, can you please refer to more or do more pieces on segmentation with Aweber as I have had friends use “tags” for segmenting and offering targeted promotions but have not found a similar option in Aweber.

    Thanks again for great, succinct advice.

    4/28/2011 1:44 pm
  5. Wow! Fantastic tips, thanks for sharing!

    4/28/2011 2:12 pm
  6. Good tips, so I understand you’re using AWeber too? How did Analytics help in your experiments?

    4/28/2011 2:15 pm
  7. I like this. THIS WAS REALLY ON POINT>

    4/28/2011 2:41 pm
  8. Excellent tips!

    My email open rate is much lower than this; I was shocked to see that people I thought were interested in what I have to say weren’t opening my emails. You have given me some really valuable information for really focussing hard on getting better responses.

    Well worthwhile – thank you heaps for this post!

    Peter

    4/28/2011 3:15 pm
  9. Wes

    Great tips, Andreas! I definitely need to fine-tune my email list a bit better and will be considering your tips when I do.

    4/28/2011 3:49 pm
  10. Thanks, great tips.

    I’m getting around 45% opens with my focused list. I think it’s because I send them only super high-quality info.

    So I’d testify to the value of this.

    Best,

    E

    4/28/2011 6:05 pm
  11. Thanks for this post, some good ideas. I agree with Stan, I don’t see secondary lines for my emails but I will subscribe and see what happens.

    4/28/2011 6:18 pm
  12. Carlos

    Very interesting, I like it.

    When its the best time to sent emails?

    4/28/2011 7:28 pm
  13. Rudolf Stroessenreuther

    Thank you for your tips very helpfull. I just never get a respond to my Emails I send out. So I must do something wrong. I hope your tip will improve.

    Rudolf

    4/28/2011 7:42 pm
  14. John

    Hello Andreas,

    very straight-forward and helpful advice that anybody using

    email marketing can benefit from.
    Thank You!

    4/28/2011 8:03 pm
  15. Thanks Andreas – especially like your comment about getting the first sentence inside the email right, and the teaser for next week at the end. Appreciated

    4/28/2011 10:30 pm
  16. Lee

    obvious, yet underused strategies – thanks for setting them out to easy to use! I will be going back to have a good hard look at what I am doing and how i can utilize these strategies!

    4/28/2011 10:52 pm
  17. Im Really New at this Ive Been online for about 3wks mabey longer.And I have No clue how to send emails ,Blogs Or any thing elseIm In limbo with not knowing.Is there someone you can sugest I might get some help!Really no clue what to do.

    4/29/2011 1:02 am
  18. Some excellent tips that I will definitely be acting on!

    Thanks!!

    4/29/2011 7:25 am
  19. I would have thought that the best time to send email would be dependent upon the target audience. For example, sending to business people the best time might be betweeen 7-9am Tuesday to Thursday while people from home might be better contacted between 7 and 9am Monday to Saturday. However, I’m no expert so I don’t really know for sure. Maybe other people have more experience of this.

    4/29/2011 8:15 am
  20. Since making my earlier post I’ve come across this text snippet about the best times to send emails. I can’t vouch for its efficacy but at least it gives information

    “4.In most cases it is best to send business to business emails Tuesday through Thursday. We?ve found that the best times of the day to send are just after the start of the day around 9:30am or just after lunch around 1:30pm. It is best to avoid sending business to business emails after 4pm or on weekends.
    5.In most cases it is best to send business to consumer emails either between 5pm and 8pm Tuesday through Thursday or between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.”

    Hope this helps

    4/29/2011 8:41 am
  21. Very straight solution .awesome tips I have amended few emails after reading this.

    4/29/2011 9:02 am
  22. Great information as usual. So glad to be part of Aweber. Every time I get a email I think should I take the time to read this one. Every time I read a aweber post there are always valuable.

    Thanks for sharing.

    4/29/2011 1:24 pm
  23. Great post! I LOVE the idea of giving a teaser, like how TV shows will give you a sneak peak at next week’s episode to hook you… I’d never thought of that or seen someone do it.

    I also wanted to let the AWeber folks know that something is a bit wonky with the URL of this page, and that it’s title tag just seems to be the URL.

    4/29/2011 1:40 pm
  24. Andreas excellent history and tips, articles like this are the ones you are looking for instruction every day. Thank you very much for sharing.

    4/30/2011 7:25 am
  25. Thank you for this insight in the delivery rates of emails. My list has been steadily getting larger by following the tips you give us in your weekly and monthly newsletters.

    I am so happy with your service and have been a user of your email marketing system for a few years now.

    Thanks a million!

    4/30/2011 10:26 am
  26. Sometimes it really takes someone to express these ideas we take for granted. I personally respond well to emails that contain preview samples that grab my attention. You are right! Many people have a disclaimer or some innocuous message as their first line in the email….big flag for me to just move on. Also, personalizing the newsletter with information excluded from the blog really does seem like a great idea I should start using…I like feeling special too.

    5/2/2011 12:52 pm
  27. I like your service…..

    I Love Aweber the best email marketing !

    5/4/2011 7:16 am
  28. Roy

    The second sentence technique is interesting, but it is limited to Gmail client, other clients like Apple Mail, all versions of Outlook and iPhones don’t show message’s content after the title. It would be interesting to check how such long ALT tag affects Postini scores.

    Personally I find hints sneaky, because it means author already knows what he’ll publish and therefore content isn’t fresh.

    Fixed schedule, extra content and knowing your audience are proven rules, I agree with these.

    5/9/2011 7:13 pm
  29. Great tips Andreas. I’m about to start a newsletter, and I’ll definitely be using these ideas.

    Roy – knowing the topic you plan to write about doesn’t mean the content isn’t fresh. I frequently know my topics for weeks ahead, but I don’t WRITE them that far in advance. Unless your newsletter only deals with current news, it is very possible to know the topic and enough about what you plan to say to provide a teaser without sending out old content.

    5/20/2011 5:59 am
  30. I re-read this today and remembered how great this post was. I suspect that most people are like me. That is, if I’m really busy I’ll not open an email if I think it will distract me – other times I’ll open them all. Sometimes I’ll go back and open some I missed but for me the big thing this is responding to the emails. I think more emails probably get opened than we realise but because of lask of responses we feel that the email didn’t get opened. They probably got scanned but there was no reason to act.

    7/18/2011 2:24 pm
  31. … additionally,
    I did a mailing some time ago and wondered at the time if people were treating my emails the way I was treating others. I hardly ever read long emails and am most likely to respond to those where the author appeared to actually care, but most importantly, I’m more likely to respond if I’ve been asked something rather than being told to click a link.

    In a second mailing, I shortened my emails and received responses, whereas before I had none. So these days for my first time emails, the initial focus of the email is to be short and meaningful with the sole goal of getting the customer to respond. I do that by asking several questions.

    Here’s an example – Something like this “I could of course be wrong but, if you’re like most people, you’re having difficulty with building a list and then finding something new to say. Are you willing to say what is it that you are struggling with? i.e. what you wish was no longer a problem?

    But them maybe I’m cynical and not very typical, I don’t know.

    7/18/2011 2:41 pm
  32. Tony,

    Thanks for coming back and re-reading the post!

    The more I see people use email, the more I realize they don’t use it like me. Guess I’m a weird email user. :)

    As with so many things in email marketing, testing trumps our assumptions. That said, I think you have a solid hypothesis to start from.

    7/19/2011 9:50 am | Follow me on Twitter
  33. Hi Andreas – I’m getting 80-90% open rates – even seen 100% open rates :-)….on a weekly basis – my tip is keep it short, keep it sweet and give them what they want!! – great post and do keep in touch.

    8/4/2011 4:46 pm
  34. I came across this post today whilst searching for something else, and I remember reading it the first time round, and following Andreas’ tips.

    I just sent out my latest newsletter, and thought I’d double-check if I’m doing everything right (according to Andreas’ list):

    1 — Find your perfect time. Hmmm, well I totally forgot this one, and never post at the same time, so I’ll give this more thought and try the split-testing. My list is aimed at armchair travellers worldwide so I’m not sure there’s a perfect time … anyone got any ideas?

    2 — Use Headline/SUBJECT and FIRST SENTENCE effectively. Now this I thought was a GREAT idea (the First Sentence) and I’m very careful to write an interesting first sentence now.

    3 — Deliver exclusivity. Hmm, I don’t do this either – I post the Newsletter on my site after it’s sent out, but I’m willing to think about this, and maybe even ask my readers if they’d like ‘exclusive’ information which only goes to them. Asking them questions is always a great idea :-)

    4 — Draw people into the next email. I got a bit slack about this, but I just did this in my most recent email.

    I must say that the results I got from this last Newsletter blew me away – I got folks writing back to me, chatting with me, it was fantastic! It only went out 2 days ago to 1100 people, and I’ve had almost 60% open rate, which I’m very pleased with.

    ——
    I just added up the open rate for the past 10 emails to this one group, and am delighted to say the average open rate is 80.95%!
    ——

    So thanks Andreas for the great ideas, I’ll go back and tweak some of my methods and see if I can improve on this.

    I’ve tried some of these techniques on my other newsletter lists, but this has prompted me to go look at those too :-)

    Thanks Justin too – it’s this type of ‘user’ provided proof and evidence which is most interesting on a regular basis, to see how others just like us are using your service.

    Thanks to all for the great feedback on this page too!

    Ciao for now
    Teena!

    1/7/2012 2:56 am
  35. Brilliant tips from Andreas! Love the advice about previewing what will be in the next newsletter. :o)

    3/8/2012 9:57 am