Improving Open Rates of emails?

25 replies
How can you improve the open rate of emails? This is currently my biggest problem. My upfront offer is really good. I decided to give away an ebook that took me a long time to write rather than sell it. The niches I am in are also "need help now", so no problem there.

I even introduce myself and take the time to make a friend and ask that they email me with any questions they like. Every sign up is greeted with a voice message from yours truly.

Subject lines seem to be good too!

Most people don't seem to follow through with even opening up the first email. That's very hard to stomach when you work hard to get targeted traffic.

Any suggestions?
#emails #improving #open #rates
  • Profile picture of the author DavidSimpson
    You may want to start off my testing the subject lines of your emails. Start with a control (baseline percentage), then A/B test to see if you can increase your open rate percentage against the control.

    The other thing you may want to do is survey your list and ask them what they want (try offering something of value to get more surveys back).

    Find a really successful site in your niche, sign up for their list, and see how they do it. Don't copy but take some ideas and model yours after what is working.
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    • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
      The subject lines you use will have an effect on your
      open rates for sure.

      However, if you're finding that they're not opening up
      even the first few e-mails, then take a closer look at
      each step of your initial opt-in process...

      Does your opt-in gift provide information that really
      surprises them and that they can't get elsewhere?
      (Or is it stuff they've heard before - so why do they
      listen to you anymore?).

      Are you giving away too much information so that
      they end-up not consuming your free content - no
      matter how good the ebook is?

      Does your first e-mail create a good first impression
      and position you as an expert to be listened to and
      as a person with unique information/perspective?

      As a technical aside, I assume that you're sending
      out HTML versions of your e-mail - so that they can
      be tracked.

      Dedicated to mutual success,

      Shaun
      Signature

      .

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      • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
        Originally Posted by Shaun OReilly View Post

        The subject lines you use will have an effect on your
        open rates for sure.

        However, if you're finding that they're not opening up
        after the first few e-mails, then take a closer look at
        each step of your initial opt-in process...

        Does your opt-in gift provide information that really
        surprises them and that they can't get elsewhere?
        (Or is it stuff they've heard before - so why do they
        listen to you anymore?).

        Are you giving away too much information so that
        they end-up not consuming your free content - no
        matter how good the ebook is?

        Does your first e-mail create a good first impression
        and position you as an expert to be listened to and
        as a person with unique information/perspective?

        As a technical aside, I assume that you're sending
        out HTML versions of your e-mail - so that they can
        be tracked.

        Dedicated to mutual success,

        Shaun
        Hi Shaun,

        Interesting thoughts here. The optin process is very one-on-one, but I will reevaluate it again. I made sure it was very personalized.

        No, the information is very difficult to find and not easily talked about, and organized in a manner that is really a plan to help.

        I would say that I come close to offering too much information all in the book, but there is a lot to be discussed on the subject matter, but I will consider this. I actually took the book and cut it in half. I think the one that they get is 68 pages while the full book is around 130+ pages.

        I'm also using this as a way to test a future product (I might sell the book one day).

        I am not using HTML versions, because I was under the impression that a lot of email providers won't process them right or something. But I will start doing both a plain text version and HTML version now that you mentioned this.

        Thank you!
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        • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
          Originally Posted by capitalalchemy View Post

          Hi Shaun,

          Interesting thoughts here. The optin process is very one-on-one, but I will reevaluate it again. I made sure it was very personalized.

          No, the information is very difficult to find and not easily talked about, and organized in a manner that is really a plan to help.

          I would say that I come close to offering too much information all in the book, but there is a lot to be discussed on the subject matter, but I will consider this. I actually took the book and cut it in half. I think the one that they get is 68 pages while the full book is around 130+ pages.

          I'm also using this as a way to test a future product (I might sell the book one day).

          I am not using HTML versions, because I was under the impression that a lot of email providers won't process them right or something. But I will start doing both a plain text version and HTML version now that you mentioned this.

          Thank you!
          If you're NOT using HTML versions then that's why your
          open rates are so low.

          Most text e-mails are not tracked for opens -unless someone
          clicks on a link within the message (at least with AWeber).

          If you're giving away a 68-page ebook for free, then some
          people will not bother to even read it. It's hard to read a
          long PDF off a computer screen and get the value - unless
          they go to the hassle of printing it out and then reading it.

          I prefer to have a shorter, higher impact freebie that creates
          a great first impression off the bat - without consuming much
          of the new subscriber's time.

          Dedicated to mutual success,

          Shaun
          Signature

          .

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          • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
            Originally Posted by Shaun OReilly View Post

            If you're NOT using HTML versions then that's why your
            open rates are so low.

            Most text e-mails are not tracked for opens -unless someone
            clicks on a link within the message (at least with AWeber).

            If you're giving away a 68-page ebook for free, then some
            people will not bother to even read it. It's hard to read a
            long PDF off a computer screen and get the value - unless
            they go to the hassle of printing it out and then reading it.

            I prefer to have a shorter, higher impact freebie that creates
            a great first impression off the bat - without consuming much
            of the new subscriber's time.

            Dedicated to mutual success,

            Shaun
            That's odd. I will make the correction - it has reported some open rates with the plain text. Maybe I have been mislead by my own little mistake

            WOW, you are probably spot on with the length issue - that's something that I can do right now - condense the book into just a report. Maybe 20 pages max!

            Thank you and thanks to all who have participated! anything else is always welcomed of course
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Chicas
    I'm with Aweber and they are perceived to have the best open rate compared to other companies. Has anyone had any experience with them or others?

    Aweber is not cheap so I'm looking to move somewhere else since I"m looking to build a list of many thousands. =D
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    • Profile picture of the author GameVoid
      Good headline.
      Informative content.

      Headline gets your email opened, content gets it read and makes people trust your mails so that the NEXT one has a greater chance of getting opened, and the next one after that, and the next one after that.

      Boring headline + thin content that is nothing but a sales pitch = junk mail that no one will open, read, or remember.
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      Professional Writing Services Content creation, article rewriting, sales pages, marketing materials and much more.
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      • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
        Originally Posted by GameVoid View Post

        Good headline.
        Informative content.

        Headline gets your email opened, content gets it read and makes people trust your mails so that the NEXT one has a greater chance of getting opened, and the next one after that, and the next one after that.

        Boring headline + thin content that is nothing but a sales pitch = junk mail that no one will open, read, or remember.
        Thank you for your input. So how can I write a subject line for a first email that basically says "your free eBook that will probably solve your problem right here and now"? that's pretty much how confident I am in my offer.

        Without disclosing anything, here is what I am working with...

        Some examples of headlines

        Email #1 - Your ____________ eBook
        Email #3 - Are these common ___________ causing your _________?
        Email #4 - 1 Easy trick for ______________
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    • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
      @DavidSimpson

      Thank you - actually at the end of my book I have a link to a survey where they can give me feedback - funny you mentioned that!

      I suppose I will just have to test different subject lines to see what works. I probably will jot down a list of subject lines with corresponding data so that at a glance I can see what is working best.

      I'm not worried about the information I'm giving out - it's really solid stuff that will help people and I'm very proud of it - I just need to get people to see what's there, haha

      @Christiani

      I use GetResponse - which is pretty cool, but there is some lacking of features that I don't like. I'm not sure how Aweber works, but GetResponse evaluates your messages with a spam score, and gives you knowledge to improve their delivery.

      I'm not sure how a company can guarantee having higher open rates though? I'm under the impression that it depends on what you do with your subject lines, content, approach, attentiveness, friendliness, etc
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  • Profile picture of the author Dimitris Skiadas
    The subject line of your e-mail is the 80% of your success/failure in your open e-mail rate.Try to think as a consumer/user and NOT as an Internet Marketer.Which e-mails would you rather open as an Internet user?The ones that draw your attention or the ones that have something for you(a gift maybe).Right?

    So split testing would be the only way to try to figure out your problem and find a solution.



    Dimitris
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    • Profile picture of the author damasgate
      I gotta say so myself, those $30,000,000,000,000 in one day emails always get me curious, not matter how much I think they're crap. I still open them
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      • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
        Originally Posted by damasgate View Post

        I gotta say so myself, those $30,000,000,000,000 in one day emails always get me curious, not matter how much I think they're crap. I still open them
        I finally weened myself off of them - there's a patch on the market for that I think :p
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Price
    I tend to find that once your list starts to realize you're giving them great content and not a spammer, your open rates increase over time. Give them really awesome content for free, make your emails look professional and don't sell too much towards the beginning and you'll start to increase the open rate. Also, I've found that writing subject lines as if you're writing to your best friend also help, rather than "Here's The Secret To Doubling Your Open Rate Kevin" ... which looks like a typical marketing email. Oh, and also don't use autoresponders much, keep your emails fresh and send broadcasts. Yes, it's not "autopilot lazy marketing" but it creates a better rapport with your list!

    Thanks,
    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
      Originally Posted by Mark Vance View Post

      I tend to find that once your list starts to realize you're giving them great content and not a spammer, your open rates increase over time. Give them really awesome content for free, make your emails look professional and don't sell too much towards the beginning and you'll start to increase the open rate. Also, I've found that writing subject lines as if you're writing to your best friend also help, rather than "Here's The Secret To Doubling Your Open Rate Kevin" ... which looks like a typical marketing email. Oh, and also don't use autoresponders much, keep your emails fresh and send broadcasts. Yes, it's not "autopilot lazy marketing" but it creates a better rapport with your list!

      Thanks,
      Mark
      That's one thing that I made a conscious decision to do that you just mentioned! I decided that I would not pitch anything for a while and just give people great information.

      I remember I had a blog with a feed subscription (a form of a list technically). I spent 2 years educating my readers without asking for anything. When I decided to release a book to them, every one of them bought it.

      I think it was because...

      A: they knew I delivered in the past
      B: I didn't harass them

      Isn't it funny? the best results seem to come from just being cool and treating folks like you would a good friend, but after you have been studying IM for so long...haha....you can easily forget what it's like to do that. It's like re-learning how to just be human.
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      • Profile picture of the author anthonyb
        Originally Posted by capitalalchemy View Post

        That's one thing that I made a conscious decision to do that you just mentioned! I decided that I would not pitch anything for a while and just give people great information.

        I remember I had a blog with a feed subscription (a form of a list technically). I spent 2 years educating my readers without asking for anything. When I decided to release a book to them, every one of them bought it.

        I think it was because...

        A: they knew I delivered in the past
        B: I didn't harass them

        Isn't it funny? the best results seem to come from just being cool and treating folks like you would a good friend, but after you have been studying IM for so long...haha....you can easily forget what it's like to do that. It's like re-learning how to just be human.
        This is honourable and generous, but when you are in need of cash, I am not sure many are able to wait for, 2 years before monetizing . A combination of value and sales should strike a good balance.
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        Add Value When You Can
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  • Profile picture of the author Ash R
    Open rate stats are generally flawed, I prefer to track click-throughs and conversions.

    Having said that, there are a few things you can do to increase open rates.

    One is, writing better headlines. A good headline will have a mix of curiosity and promise, it should stand out from the rest of the inbox, it shouldn't be unbelievable or misleading, etc.

    Another is - build trust. When subscribers know and like you, they're more likely to open your emails and take action..

    Hope that helps!
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    Don't sweat the small stuff :)
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  • Profile picture of the author xxxJamesxxx
    One thing that help is personality. You gotta be you and be real. This way you're not just another drone like all the millions of people who mail and your readers will actually look forward to reading your emails.

    Another trick I do as well in my auto responder series is what I call the "Cliff Hanger" method. Basically warm your reader up for your next up and coming email.

    I always do this in the "P.S" part of the email and I use similar techniques you would use to write email subject lines i.e. massive amounts of curiosity and a benefit of some form.

    Basically your reader will presell the crap out of themselfs and wonder what you got on offer next time you mail them therefore looking forward to your next email!

    There's a couple of things that really work for me anyway.

    Hope it helps

    James Scholes
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    • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
      Originally Posted by xxxJamesxxx View Post

      One thing that help is personality. You gotta be you and be real. This way you're not just another drone like all the millions of people who mail and your readers will actually look forward to reading your emails.

      Another trick I do as well in my auto responder series is what I call the "Cliff Hanger" method. Basically warm your reader up for your next up and coming email.

      I always do this in the "P.S" part of the email and I use similar techniques you would use to write email subject lines i.e. massive amounts of curiosity and a benefit of some form.

      Basically your reader will presell the crap out of themselfs and wonder what you got on offer next time you mail them therefore looking forward to your next email!

      There's a couple of things that really work for me anyway.

      Hope it helps

      James Scholes
      Yep, I like to write just as myself - it's more fun and entertaining, so I'm glad that I got that right

      I also agree with your cliff hanger technique. I always leave a message in the bottom of the email that says something like "In the next coming days I've got something that is really going to floor you!".

      Thanks for adding these suggestions. I'm writing everything down that is in this thread - very valuable information.

      By the way James, thanks for your tip about the YouTube video annotation thing - I didn't get a chance to thank you in that thread.
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  • Profile picture of the author xxxJamesxxx
    Oh!... One more thing.

    If you're book is like 60 pages long then split it up into a 20 part auto responder series. It would be more digestable for your readers as their are getting it in more bite size chunks.

    James Scholes
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    • Profile picture of the author capitalalchemy
      Originally Posted by xxxJamesxxx View Post

      Oh!... One more thing.

      If you're book is like 60 pages long then split it up into a 20 part auto responder series. It would be more digestable for your readers as their are getting it in more bite size chunks.

      James Scholes
      Again thank you - just caught this. I had that idea earlier today after combing through the feedback here. It's especially helpful to have people reinforce what you are kind of toying with in your mind.

      Well, the book is 138 pages in it's entirety, so I think I could keep them busy for a long time.

      I'm toying with either doing one of the following now...

      a: Dividing the chapters into reports, content loaded emails or video presentations.

      b: I wrote a report today condensing some of the information as the new offer upon sign up, so I might send them a copy of the condensed (68 page) book as a gift later on.

      c: If I do B, then I will maybe offer the entire book for a price. It might wet their appetites and show them what's in store and that it's a valuable resource.

      Really so many options - not sure what to go with.
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      • Profile picture of the author robnoble
        One thing no one has mentioned is making sure your subscribers recognise who the email is from.

        In a crowded inbox people, myself included, scan down the from names and only open emails from senders they recognise as providing good information.

        Using a profile pic on the optin page with your name to help with remembering you and then using your name as the sender so it appears in the from field in the inbox and reinforcing with a profile pic and name on the download page.

        Got this from jason fladlien.
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  • Profile picture of the author NaturalHealth
    Remember that individuals are more drawn to a CAUSE than anything else. Does your newsletter have a 'call to arms' to support a CAUSE?

    For example, link to a petition to end internet censorship. It's relevant, because we're all on the internet. You can even post the petition on your blog.

    "The internet is under attack, and so is your ability to use it freely!"

    Then link to your blog petition.
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    I help syndicate and market various health book libraries. I enjoy SEO & programming.

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  • Profile picture of the author Verisimilitude
    Attention is the new currency of the digital age. People nowadays are exposed to thousands or more ideas every day, and not all of them are going to grab their attention. Why should they care about what you have to say?

    The first question you must ask yourself is whether you're certain you understand their interests. If your appeal to their interests doesn't work, consider doing a little more research on your target market. We all hate to be wrong, but sometimes scrapping an approach and working on a new one is necessary. No one gets it right on the first try every single time. And that's okay.

    Also, don't assume that your target market is always logical. Sometimes, we commit to brands and/or products not for their primary function, but for how they make us feel. Take digital media and online advertising/marketing for instance - a lot of people see it as beneficial because of its ability to track results. Logically, metrics and its reduction of risk is the primary reason why spending on online advertising/marketing has increased so much. But consider this - why does the marketing associate care about metrics? Because at the end of the day, showing the boss a report with discrete numbers and measurable results is preferable to trying to explain, without any concrete proof, why that print ad you ran in XYZ magazine is driving sales. So while the board likes it due to metrics and its subsequent reduction of risk that makes the firm more attractive to blue-chip investors, the marketing associate has an interest in going digital because it makes his life easier, not necessarily because it's better for the firm in terms of financial reporting. So when you're trying to convince that person to go digital, the appeal should not be one of metrics, ROI, trackability, and future investors. It should be one that highlights how much easier it will be to justify ad expenditures and such to the boss. It should be one that highlights how it might make the employee indispensable - a lynchpin if you will.

    Make sense?
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    What I have to say most of the time is probably not what you want to hear. Then again, I'm not trying to make a buck off of you either.

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  • Profile picture of the author scraig
    You may want to read a Creed for Email Marketing located at Squidoo.

    If you send helpful, on topic, engaging emails to the right group of individuals at the right time, then open rates should go up.
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    • Profile picture of the author Verisimilitude
      Originally Posted by scraig View Post

      You may want to read a <link snipped> located at Squidoo.

      If you send helpful, on topic, engaging emails to the right group of individuals at the right time, then open rates should go up.

      It's nice and all to throw around buzzwords like "helpful" and "engaging", but it appears that how to be those things is what the original poster is having trouble figuring out.
      Signature

      What I have to say most of the time is probably not what you want to hear. Then again, I'm not trying to make a buck off of you either.

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