Let’s discuss how to boost email open rates in 3 easy steps because… look at your inbox. If you’re anything like me, your Gmail folders are an ocean of digital mayhem. You sip warm golden milk as you glance at your phone… and barely open any marketing emails anymore. This is bad news bears for email marketing 🐻! So what’s an online biz owner to do?
As of August 2018, I have 5.5 years of experience in email marketing. Especially during the past few years, I’ve been delving deeper and performing more A/B tests to discover how to boost email open rates not just for my service-based business, but also for several product-based businesses, so I’ve been able to experiment widely.
We’ve covered triggers to compel people to buy — and the subject line triggers (see Tip #1 below) that compel people to open your emails are super important, because they’re part of the thread that takes subscribers from your newsletters to your services and products on your website all year long.
It’s time to share my top findings with you!
How to boost email open rates in 3 easy steps
Tip to boost email open rates #1: Write a great email subject line
This, of course, is the classic tip and the hardest of the 3 tips in this blog post. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at figuring out what different audiences respond to, so let’s see what tips I can give you.
For product-based businesses, put the sale up-front and at the beginning of the subject line, not at the end and never in the middle (it gets lost).
Through A/B testing over several months, I established that a headline like “Buy one get one FREE ⚡ flash sale ends in 6 hours!” with the offer at the beginning of the subject line generally performs better than a headline with the offer at the end such as, “Flash sale ends in 6 hours ⚡ Buy one get one FREE.”
I’ve also found that when sending several emails (say, over a week-long seasonal promotion) it helps to pepper these types of subject lines with clever/funny/intriguing ones that don’t tell you what the offer is. The function of these subject lines is to provoke an emotional reaction from the reader, which will make them take notice and want to open the email. For example, here’s one subject line I used for Mother’s Day: “Win the Favorite Kid Award This Mother’s Day (and Save BIG).”
For those of us with a service-based business who share blog posts often, I’ve found that subject lines that elicit emotional reactions or curiosity work very well in general. For example, I sent an email last month with the simple subject line “I did it” and got the best open rates so far this year.
And no matter what brand I’m working with, I use the Coschedule Headline Analyzer (free!) to help me craft engaging subject lines.
Need more inspiration for your subject lines? Check out this post on copy that converts featuring some of my favorite copywriters! It discusses website copy but has some tips applicable to emails 😉
Tip to boost email open rates #2: Use Emojis 🥑🍷💁
When I look at my inbox, on average, I see about 4 emails with emojis in the subject line out of every 200. That’s a mere 2%! (Sure, my inbox doesn’t look like everybody else’s, but I subscribe to a TON of emails.)
So here’s a tip to boost email open rates for your business: Try using (relevant) emojis in your subject line! This can dramatically help your emails stand out in your subscribers’ inboxes.
With an emoji combined + a captivating subject line? You’ve just skyrocketed the chances that your subscribers who see your email will click to open it.
Here are a few subject lines with emojis that have performed well for me this year to give you an idea:
- 🐚 Did You Win? Open and Play for Up to 30% OFF!
- Good Planets Are Hard to Find 🌎 Shop the Earth Day Sale
- 🎆 Create a Spark With Free U.S. Shipping + 65% OFF
- Summer gets better ⛱ Time for BUY 1, GET 1 50% OFF
Caveat: since everyone’s audience (and business) is unique, you’ll want to run A/B tests and see if subject lines with emojis perform better than those without emojis 🤔.
I run email marketing for several brands and have noticed that it varies. For two brands, emojis help increase open rates, and for a couple of higher-end brands, I found that it doesn’t really make a difference or that people even slightly prefer the absence of emojis.
And if you’re wondering how to use emojis when you send emails from a computer instead of your phone, I’ve got you! Someone asked this on my Instagram post and I’ll give you the same pro tips I gave her:
- Use https://emojipedia.org/
- If you can’t find what you need (or if you have a computer on which you can’t see all the emojis on the screen) try setting up WhatsApp web on your computer and looking for emojis there, as if you were messaging a friend.
- Then just copy and paste the emoji(s) you want over to your email marketing service!
Tip to boost email open rates #3: Days and Times
The day and time on which you send your email matters — a lot. Generally, studies over the past few years have found that open rates are higher on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Wednesdays (in that order) between 10am-12pm (time zone varies depending on where most of your audience lives).
I have found this to be true for the brands I manage, and also that weekend open rates are awful so I avoid those days (this also matches up with the studies’ findings).
But for Website Superhero? I’ve had success sending emails around 4am as well as 11am (sending during evenings tends to produce poor open rates). And I send most of my emails on Thursdays and Fridays, both of which can produce very nice open rates if I get the time right + email subject line compelling enough.
P.S. While we’re at it, here’s an email list faux pas you should never make.