Have You Optimized Your Messages for More Opens?

While working with customers to optimize their email campaigns, I reviewed A LOT of messages. As I was going through all them, I took notes on which ones performed well and I was able to identify some common threads.

Just like I was able to share strategies to get more subscribers and keep those subscribers on your list, I have some tips to help you improve your messages and get more opens.

Before your subscribers even read your message, you have to convince them to open it. Let’s look at how you can do that…

Grab Their Attention With Your Subject Line

Out of all the emails in your subscribers’ inboxes, you need to make sure your email gets noticed. The subject line will need to get their attention and persuade them to look at the whole message- a big task for just one line.

Here are some ideas you can try out for your subject line:

email open rates

Once you have tired out different subject lines, you can try split testing different versions of them. This will give you a better idea of what your approach really is.

Get Them to Open With Effective Snippets/ Preview Panes

Your subject line gets their attention, but some email programs will let you take it a step further by displaying more of your email. Make sure your emails are benefiting from this.

Some email clients do this by displaying a snippet. An example of an email client that does this is Gmail, so you can set up a free account and test your messages there. If you look at the example above you’ll see how some of the snippet text appears after the subject.

Other email clients will allow users to see a larger part of the email, otherwise known as a preview pane. You can utilize the power of snippets and preview panes by including compelling content at the top of your message.

To see how a preview pane can help, let’s take a look at how Furniture Crate handles this:

better open rates

Notice they have the sale notice right at the top, a great way to get subscribers to scroll down.

Southern Plate uses just an image, but it works well for their recipe emails:

optimize emails for opens

You just need to use whatever you think will convince your subscribers to keep reading.

Microsoft Outlook is one email client that uses preview panes, so check out your emails there or have a friend send you a screen shot of what they look like.

More Tips for Improving Your Messages

While you work on getting those opens, we’ll be working on a post that helps improve your message for what happens next.

Fill out the form below to join our blog newsletter and you’ll get the next optimization post right in your inbox.

We’ll also periodically send you the other email marketing tips we publish here. The blog newsletter goes out 2 times per week.


  1. Graham Lutz

    7/16/2011 8:02 am

    Is there any research done anywhere on the types of headlines that get opened the most.

    I’m sure you guys have lots of data on this topic. I’d love to see some numbers what kinds of subject lines work the best.

  2. Crystal Gouldey

    7/19/2011 8:37 am

    We don’t have any stats on that. The headlines that work best will most likely vary between industries, so it would be difficult to nail down general types that work best in all cases.

    You should check out Copyblogger’s guide to writing compelling headlines. They have lots of great tips that everyone can benefit from.

  3. Dr. Michael Haley

    7/22/2011 5:37 pm

    Thought provoking. I have a lot of auto-responder subjects to fix!

  4. Maggie

    8/13/2013 8:12 am

    Hello .. I wonder if you are able to let me know why I have multiple opens for one subscriber?

    Could it be that they have forwarded on an email?

    The stats get a bit skewed by this and I am curious to know.

  5. Cari

    10/30/2013 2:01 am

    Hi Aweber
    You guys are awesome. I love this fun email and I actually opened it and read it, instead of just meaning to.

    I wanted you to know the right margin gets cut off on an iPhone, especially when vertical.