How do you get more subscribers to open and respond to your email marketing?

22 replies
While I've been building a list for some time and have had some success in selling to my subscribers, I'm really keen to learn how to improve the response rate from my list. It's not something that I've done a lot of work on to try to improve until now so I'm keen to get your input before I go charging ahead.

My formula to date has been to include the subscriber's first name in the subject line and also at the start of the email.

I also try to write the emails as if I'm writing to my very first subscriber (this is something I've done from the start when I only had one subscriber - I guess you never forget your first...) I've found this helps me to make the emails personal.

Other than that - I'm totally open for suggestions.

Hit me...
#autoresponders #email #marketing #open #respond #subscribers
  • Profile picture of the author Adrian Jock
    Originally Posted by JamesMSpacey View Post

    My formula to date has been to include the subscriber's first name in the subject line and also at the start of the email.
    While some warriors may not agree with me (because certain guru is still using first names in subject lines :rolleyes: ), I suggest you to REMOVE the first name from the subject lines. Shoked?

    Reason # 1. Spammers learned this marketing lesson too. Consequence: Recent email marketing reports show that first names in subject lines are not very effective anymore.

    Reason # 2. Many email software programs have a limited space allocated to the VISIBLE part of a subject line (visible without opening the email). If you insert in that space a first name, then a part of your actual message may become invisible (without opening the email). Since the subject line may make you or break you, you may want the visible part to contain something that grabs the recipient's attention (not a first name).
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    • Profile picture of the author theyoungmarketer
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      • Profile picture of the author Adrian Jock
        Originally Posted by theyoungmarketer View Post

        I disagree, firstname gives realtion to the subject, Firstname I've just made it to the top of Google...

        I'd open that before

        I've just made it to the top of google...
        No problem to disagree with me, I'm sure you're not the only one

        I have a simple question for you: do you open also the spam messages that contain your first name in the subject line?

        If you say "Yes" then you have a problem Not wanting to believe that you have a problem, then I will assume that you do NOT open the spam emails that contain your first name.

        Then what is the conclusion? A simple conclusion: you do NOT open the emails based on your first name being added or not in the subject line. Your decision to open or not an email is based on SOMETHING ELSE, not on your first name being there or not
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        • Profile picture of the author Gauher
          I think the key element to getting your subscribers to open your emails is to provide valuable content.

          If you can do this on a consistent basis, your subject line should have very little influence over the open rate because people know that they will not be wasting their time opening your email up.

          With constant competition from dozens of emails in your subscriber's inbox, you want to create a reputation where people simply click on your email when they see your name in the "From" subject.

          I have even tinkered with the idea of putting in my newsletters "the first 50 people who respond get _____ for free...", that will get people opening your emails if you do this constantly and offer something free of immense value.

          My two cents.


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    • Profile picture of the author johnng
      I certainly agree with this, especially true for the second reason. You do want to reserve as much space as possible for the best Subject line to attract more responses.
      John Ng
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  • Profile picture of the author yuyuan
    I think by using a subject line that creates curiosity and desire is the way to get your message open.

    Something like:

    "The Method to Attract Gorgeous Women That is So Simple Even A Computer Can Do it..."

    Also, I think that the relationship with your subscribers also plays a very important part if you want to achieve a high open rate.

    If they are not responsive or treat your emails as spam, they will not open your message no matter how well your subject is written.
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  • Profile picture of the author ss61288
    I believe that just by changing a few things periodically here and there isn't going to make much difference. You have to ensure that when your email pops up in your subscribers in box they see one thing and one thing only - VALUE.
    Work around the mindset that you need to constantly give your subscribers more value than they bargained for and that will definately ensure you are able to maintain a list which will be responsive to your offers. I like to work on a 3-point system (give them some valuable lessons / hints / tips twice then work towards a product review or offering as the third email which is the third point) hope that makes sense =)

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  • Profile picture of the author JamesMSpacey
    Thanks for the suggestions..

    I am particularly interested to hear people's opinions on the name in subject v no name issue...

    I thought I should add that the subscriber base that I have on my main list has come from links that I post on my articles, my blogs and my profile pages, so most of the subscribers I get already know me or know what I'm about before they give me their email. This has increased my open rate from the 'old days' when I used to use a lot of PPC and paid traffic to my squeeze. Consequently I'm not too worried about subscribers thinking my email is spam, but I want to keep them enthusiasticly opening over a longer period...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Duncan
    The only way to know if your mailings would have a higher open rate w/without first names appended is to TEST.

    1. Take your list and split it up into 5 pieces...not sure how large your list is, but you can try 96%, 1%, 1%, 1%, 1%.

    2. Now, write 4 different subject lines...vary the content as well as the name/no name setup.

    3. Send them to all 4 1% groups at the same time. (You don't want to introduce a "time variable" into the mix.

    4. Track your open rates...then input them into this: Split Test Accelerator: Faster Ad Testing Now! (Do all combinations: A vs B, A vs C, A vs D, C vs B, C vs D, B vs D)

    5. Take the winner and send it to the other 95%.

    Testing is the ONLY way to know you aren't guessing wrong.


    P.S. Now, we are assuming above that you are trying to optimize for Open Rate...but using the same test, you could easily optimize for conversions as well. Obviously, an email that doesn't get opened doesn't convert...but spending a little extra time writing 4 unique versions of an email and submitting that data will also give you the best converting email + the best subject line. That's the REAL WINNER here.
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  • Profile picture of the author Asher
    With regards to the Firstname thing, I use it myself -
    but I don't use it all the time.

    One of the things I learnt about email marketing is
    to write as if to a friend (that's the effect I'm going
    for) and when I write to a friend... I rarely type out
    their name in the beginning.

    And if I do, I usually use their name in the body of
    the email.

    Another tip is to not be predictable with your
    emails. Keep your subscribers wanting to open up
    your email because they know that they'll be getting
    something good - even if it's a promo email.

    Be predictable in being unpredictable - it's a learned
    art Kinda like dating (which it is, you're wooing
    your list)

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  • Profile picture of the author SamLewi
    The wording in your subject line is absolutely critical. You really need to test as every list is unique.

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  • Profile picture of the author Jay White
    Subject lines are crucial, but tossing the firstname in (or not) depends really on your audience. If it's a jaded market like IM, we've seen a million emails with our names in them so it doesn't make an impact. But if it's a non-IM market that doesn't usually subscribe to a follow up series, then seeing their name in a subject means a lot more.

    Occasionally when I sent out an email blast to my buyers in a smaller niche, several would always reply thanking me for "thinking of them". It was obvious that they believed the personalization was only for them.

    In teaching my email copywriting method (see my sig), one thing I stress is not to use the firstname field over and over again. It's annoying, unnatural, and clutters up an email. Once in the greeting is fine, and maybe once more towards the end. But don't go overboard. Be natural and talk like you normally talk.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mangozoom
    I subscribe to the VALUE of the email approach.

    Some people send me emails I cannot wait to read ... even though I know sometimes they are going to send offers as well.

    The more value you provide the better your relationship will be with your audience and the more they will respond.

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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    In my experience, there is no definitive answer to whether or not you should include {!firstname_fix} in your subject line.

    I've seen some increases in open rates using it. I've seen SPAM complaints increase when using it. It's all very subjective...

    It can be dangerous to jump on absolutes like "include the name in the subject line". Frankly, your mileage WILL vary. Jay's advice is great.

    Your relationship with your list, your market, and the nature of your offer can and will make a difference.

    Early on, when prospects first join your list, they are more likely to open your mail because they're "hot" -- they want the info they signed up for. Don't assume that someone opened your 3rd follow-up because you included their name.

    As time progresses, your open rates can decrease as your readers "cool" down and settle in. This is natural and not something one should be overly concerned about. There's a litany of reason why anybody may or may not open any given email.

    What you DON'T want is people unsubscribing because they sense that you're not sincere or genuine -- nobody likes feeling like cattle.

    Ham-fisted attempts to get "cute" or tricky can seriously damage the rapport you work so hard to build with your list. If it makes sense to personalize the message, do it -- I do. But I do it when and where it adds weight to the message, not just to "get their name in there".

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  • Profile picture of the author jasonl70
    I noticed how one email I get (I believe it's paul's talkbiz) consistantly had the same look to it, and decided to make my email subject lines along the same lines as a test.. my open rates went up, and my spam complaints went down.


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  • Profile picture of the author JamesMSpacey
    Thanks everyone for your posts. I'm preparing a test at the moment to incorporate some of your ideas.
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  • Profile picture of the author Droopy Dawg
    1. The title/subject line has to be worded to pretty much MAKE THEM open the email.

    2. The offer has to be something that they would want to respond to your email.

    I really can't explain it in any more detail than that. To actually accomplish these things is another animal altogether.

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  • Profile picture of the author dsmpublishing

    I never but the name in the subject line and always make sure i use words that entice them to open it and stay clear of words that email providers would consider as spam as this can make quite a difference to your open rate.

    If your doing a free ezine do it in pdf and then you can use whatever words you like without having to worry about spam filters plus your customers will love you for it!
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  • Profile picture of the author BlogBrowser
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      I'm with the folks who say you should use personalization in emails the same way you would in face to face conversation.

      Depending on the list, you sometimes get jokers who put something other than their name in the field. Might be a tracking word so they can see who's been selling their email. Might be something childish.

      A couple of years ago, I got an email from a subscriber wanting to know why I was mad at him. Said I was calling him names for no reason.

      I checked his email address in the database. There was a reason his message read "Hello, Jackass!"...:rolleyes:

      I changed the name, and never heard from him again.
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  • Profile picture of the author reynald2790
    I guess you must make your ad more convincing to the readers and make your website full of contents about it. the more content you had the more email subscribers you have.

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  • Jack totally has it -- testing will be the key to seeing what works. We'd suggest trying the name vs. no name subject line variation on a few different occasions, and in a few different ways. Some people have lists that respond exceptionally well to personalization (and we've found it consistently wins for us), while others don't. Test!

    And as with any content you offer your subscribers and customers, make sure it's valuable, relevant, recognizable (can they tell it's coming from you? Will they remember you?) and regular (every two weeks instead of every two months -- you won't be on their radar anymore).

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  • Profile picture of the author JamesMSpacey
    Thanks for all the tips. I'm working on designing a test over the next month to try a couple of strategies to try and maximise opens. Anyone done a test before and want to share how they orchestrated it?
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