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How to Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rates

Tonight I received a 2-part question relative to email marketing. The first part of the question was, “What’s the best way to increase email open rates?”, and the second part was, “What’s the best way to increase email click-through rates?”

This is a VERY timely subject and excellent question because just like snail-mail, email marketing sending rates increase tremendously during the Holiday season, often by as much as 35% compared to the rest of the year. In fact later tonight I’m sending an email to one of my lists of 3,000 people inviting them to sign up for camp next year right now and, if they do, I’ll give them a $50 gift card to either Best Buy, Sport Chalet, Starbucks or Burke-Williams, their choice. I hope they open my email!

Concerning open rates, a big factor of whether people open your email depends on if your recipients are familiar with your camp or they are new prospects. If they’ve been to your camp before, or know about you some other way, they will probably open your email based on that fact. But if you’re emailing to a cold list with no previous history or familiarity between you and your recipient, getting them to open your email will be harder.

In any case, two key points to consider when strategizing how to get your email opened relate to your subject line. First, you should always assume your recipient’s spam filter is set to “high.” If you operate under that assumption, you’ll be more careful not to write a subject line that gets trashed automatically. (There’s no doubt about it — your recipient’s email system is on the lookout for junk, or anything it even perceives to be junk. If your email message is gonna be trashed, your job is make sure your recipient trashes it on his or her own volition, and not allow the email service to do so automatically.)

Now the best trick I’ve learned to make sure your email passes the spam filter test is to send it to yourself as a test run through at least three different email services before you send it to everyone else. (You can open email accounts for yourself for free at Gmail, AOL and Yahoo.) If the email you send to yourself arrives safely — if it passes that test — then you can be fairly confident your message will arrive safely in the recipient’s inbox, too.

Another thing about the subject line, it really needs to smack your recipient right in the face. It needs to stand out among all the other crap people get in their inbox. If your headline doesn’t grab your prospect, they’ll delete your message and move on. Consider your email subject line the equivalent of an ad you take out in the newspaper or magazine. It’s pretty much the same thing: Without a good newspaper headline, your ad will be ignored, and without a good email subject line, your email will be deleted.

Here’s a quick video on how to write a good subject line:

Your subject line’s not the only determining factor as to whether your email gets opened. Time of day, day of the week, your particular offer and many other things come into play. Here’s a few links to some blog posts I’ve written in the past on this subject (each of these posts should help you get your email’s opened without too much trouble):

I hope this post is helpful in improving your email open rates. I’ve given you a lot to chew on, so I’ll leave it here for now. Tomorrow I will address the second part of the question, “How to improve your email click through rates.”

See you then!


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