320 billion – that’s the number of emails that will be sent and received every day in 2021. This eye-watering figure means that the odds of your prospects opening your email are slim at best. But no one’s even close to giving up on email marketing. It still generates the highest ROI of any digital marketing strategy.

So it really comes down to this: whose email would you want to click on in a crowded inbox? And how do you stand out?

Sounds like a massive feat, doesn’t it? 

But all you need is a little bit of help. We asked marketing pros how they achieve high email open rates and ensure their emails are always read. Use their process to nail your email marketing campaigns every single time!

1. Erik Qualman: Spend the longest time on your subject lines

Everyone always spends hours crafting the body of the email and on the images inside the email. Yet, the subject line is an afterthought. To dramatically increase the effectiveness of your email campaign you need to do the exact opposite. 80% of the time should be spent on the subject line because if nobody opens it, it doesn’t matter how amazing the email is.

erik qualman

Bio: Erik Qualman, 5x #1 Bestselling Author (The Focus Project). Often called a Digital Dale Carnegie and The Tony Robbins of Tech, Erik Qualman is a #1 Bestselling Author and Motivational Keynote Speaker that has spoken in over 55 countries, and reached 50 million people.

2. Dennis Yu: Write subject lines that evoke personal curiosity

The highest email open rates come from headlines that evoke personal curiosity. For example, “Ooops– I made a mistake” and then in your body, mention how the mistake was that you closed your sale too early.

Or you learned a lesson from doing something wrong, and that led you to start your own business with a particular product/service.

If you go too far, it can be spammy or clickbait– bad for ads, but more acceptable for email.

Key point- adding an emotional payload to your emails is what drives open rates.

The busiest of people will always find time to satisfy their curiosity.

dennis yu

Bio: Dennis Yu is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis helps students grow their expertise in digital marketing to drive leads and sales, and also manages ad campaigns for enterprise clients like The Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.  

3. Jeanne Jennings: Make your subject lines benefit-focused

Many subject lines are factual and feature-based, that’s fine. But what’s better is being benefit-focused. A benefit-focused subject line tells the reader what’s in it for them if they open the email and/or take the action the email is advocating. 

For instance, ‘Enter to win an industry award’ is factual, it’s talking about the awards, which are a feature. A benefit-oriented subject line for the awards would be “Be recognized for your achievements – enter to win an industry award.” 

jeanne jennings

Bio: Jeanne Jennings is a recognized expert in the email marketing industry and a consultant enabling medium- to enterprise-sized organizations. She is Founder and Chief Strategist at Email Optimization Shop, General Manager of Only Influencers, Chair of the annual Email Innovations Summit, and an Adjunct Professor in the graduate program at Georgetown University

4. Suttida Yang: Keep the needs of your target top of mind

The best tip I can provide on writing subject lines that will drive open rates is to always have the needs of your target personas top of mind. Doing so means that you can craft a short CTA within the subject line that will trigger the initial engagement. In other words, make it less about you and more about them. Lastly, make sure you are A/B testing subject lines so you know what works best.

suttida yangBio: With over a decade of digital marketing experience and a passion for helping businesses grow by harnessing the power of digital marketing, Suttida turned her side hustle marketing business into a full-time venture back in 2014. Her biz motto is all about taking massive action, collecting data, and making better decisions that will drive revenue growth. Find her at suttidayang.com.

5. Ian Brodie: Make a great first impression

For me, the best way to get consistently high open rates is to consistently deliver amazing value in your emails so that your subscribers actively look forward to receiving them and will open them just because they’re from you.

And the biggest single thing you can do is have a “barnstorming” first email that blows the socks off your subscribers and gets them thinking “wow – I can’t wait for the next one in my inbox”.

Most people just use their first email to say thank you and give a link to their lead magnet. Maybe to pitch a tripwire product or tell their new subscribers about all the goodies they’re going to get in future. It’s all a bit “meh”. They’ve received a thousand emails like that before and it does nothing to set you apart and build their desire for your next emails.

So instead, use the first email to share your best, most insightful tip or idea. Make it one they won’t have heard before so that your first impression is that your emails are going to be full of new, valuable, and different ideas for them. And if you can get over those ideas in a story that begins to build a personal connection with your new subscriber, so much the better.

Doing all those things in one email is a tall order, of course. You probably won’t hit every button. but use it as a benchmark to aim for and it will give a big lift to open rates on all your subsequent emails.

ian brodie

Bio: Ian Brodie works with consultants and coaches to help them win more clients through Value-Based Marketing. He’s the author of the Amazon multi-bestseller “Email Persuasion” and you can get more of his free insights and tips at www.ianbrodie.com.

6. Daniel Ndukwu: Use email segmentation

Adopt a simple email segmentation strategy. You can keep everything else in your email marketing campaign the same and still double your open rates. The logic is simple; if what you’re sending is relevant to the recipient, they’ll be more likely to open your email. 

There are tons of ways to segment your email subscribers and, naturally, the methods and criteria you choose will depend on your audience. A B2B brand may focus on revenue or use cases. A B2C brand may focus on geography or age.  

It’s super important to do a bit of psychographic and demographic research beforehand about what your customers want, their problems, and why they’re even interacting with your brand. Once you have that data in hand, you can then focus your attention in the right direction. 

Let me give you an example of one of the simplest email segmentation sequences you can use. Let’s say you’re hosting a webinar and are gaining sign-ups through the landing page provided by the webinar platform you’ve chosen. Within the webinar tool, you can send emails to registrants before and after the event. 

  • For those who attended the webinar but didn’t see your offer, you send a specific email. 
  • The email you send to those who didn’t show up is also different.
  • Finally, you’ll send a third email to people who showed up and saw your offer at the end but haven’t purchased it. 

Another way to go about it is based on behavior. What emails are they ignoring and what pages of your website are they visiting? Tag or score them based on that and when they get to a certain threshold, start showing them relevant information. 

daniel ndukwu

Bio: Daniel Ndukwu, founder of KyLeads, helps business owners increase conversions through actionable customer feedback, interactive quizzes, and social proof.

7. Sujan Patel: Schedule emails by time zones

My number one tip for high email open rates is timing. Consider scheduling your emails based on your prospects’ time zones. The prospect is much less likely to act on an email that arrived in the middle of the night as they are clearing out their inbox the next morning. Time your email campaign with a scheduling tool to ensure the email lands in your prospect’s inbox at the right time.

sujan patel

Bio: Sujan Patel is the Co-founder of Right Inbox & Ramp Ventures. He has over 14 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

8. Jordie van Rijn: Measure the right metric

When your email marketing plan has engagement as a goal, success is often measured per campaign. Marketers look at average campaign open, click, and other engagement rates (like downloads, site visits).

Oh oh, oops! Email marketing is not a campaign popularity contest.

Instead, we want to focus on the subscribers in your total email marketing program. Get more people in the “you rule” column and less in the “you suck”. Of course, you need to define what makes a great subscriber/lead/customer.

Measure the wrong thing and you get the wrong tactics… Like an uninformed idea of deleting a portion of inactive (but perhaps the most valuable) contacts while you keep optimizing campaigns for “click every time, buy nevery time”- kind of people without even realizing that is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.

So make it more concrete. Looking at engagement is not the problem. But it’s much more effective to check the total people that opened your emails in the last 30-days. And check what is going on. This measure is called Reach in email engagement.

If you don’t have that as a standard metric in your dashboard, there are plenty of good email marketing agencies that can set up that type of report. Then you can even refine by looking at segments or sales versus engagement emails, etc.

jordie van rijn
Bio: Jordie van Rijn, founder of Emailmonday, is a pioneer email and eCRM consultant. He helps companies select the right MarTech and get results.

9. Rachel Andrea Go: Prune your email list

Filter out unengaged contacts when sending regular emails. You may have a huge email list, but that list is made of two groups: loyal followers who are excited to see your emails in their inbox, and unengaged subscribers who don’t open your emails very often.

You don’t necessarily have to eliminate all unengaged contacts, but you should be aggressively selective with what you send them. If it’s a regular email, you should filter out unengaged subscribers so only your loyal followers are able to see it.

This helps you get better open rates overall and saves up unengaged subscriber patience and goodwill so that when you do have an important update (product release, important notices), they are more likely to open it, instead of unsubscribing or sending to spam.

rachel andrea go

Bio: Rachel is a Content Strategist and Acquisition Marketer for eCommerce and SaaS clients. She loves writing about remote work, productivity, and eCommerce selling strategies. Find her at rachelandreago.com.

10. Lolita Carrico: Provide value in every campaign consistently

The key factor in achieving high open rates is all about trust between your brand and the email recipient. How do you achieve trust? Through consistency — don’t send useless, blanket communications with “clickbait”-style subject lines to your email base. 

Whenever possible, use segmentation to customize subject lines based on shopping or other behaviors. Develop consumer personas that segment your email list so you can use a consistent brand voice and most importantly, provide them with relevant and actionable content every time. 

lolita carrico

Bio: Lolita Carrico is a Business Growth and Marketing Strategist, and a pioneer in digital marketing who has helped hundreds of solopreneurs to Fortune 100 companies scale and maximize awareness and revenues. Find her at lolitacarrico.com.

Conclusion

There you have it! The expert process, broken down. While launching a new email marketing campaign might seem like a tough climb, it’s much easier when your gameplan is approved by the experts.

Spend your sweet time writing the perfect subject line that evokes curiosity and tells the reader what to expect. Then, once they’re in, make sure that the body is full of value and packs a punch. Then, segment your email list and schedule posts by your target audience’s timezone. Once you’ve sent out your broadcasts, track email reach along with open rates. Over time, you should also prune your email list to remove disengaged subscribers and improve the quality of your email list.

And remember, you need to deliver consistent value every time. When it comes to email marketing, you lose trust much quicker than you gain it! So keep your target top of mind and design campaigns that always benefit them.

With the right tips in your arsenal, you’ll be able to score high email open rates every campaign.

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Momina Ayaz is a Content Marketer at Mailmunch. She loves reading during lunch breaks and witnessing technology reshaping the corporate sphere.