12 Key Factors To Increase Your Email Open Rates

You have heard what the Gurus said: the money is in the list. But then again, building a huge list is just the first step, because you need to nurtured your list to build the Know, Like, And Trust Factor.

That is why deliverability is so much more important in the whole process because if your subscribers don't open your emails, there is no money to be made. 

Hence, within this post we are going to discuss about 12 key factors that you should be aware of to increase your email open rates. Let's get started!

1. Use a human sender name

It’s the most prominent part of the email preview, so it’s a huge factor in open rates. Email marketers may forget to check it, but recipients never forget to look.

If the sender name includes a person’s name, the email is more personal and more likely to be opened. For example, an email from “John Smith from Arrival Marketing” will have a higher open rate than an email from “Arrival Marketing Company.”

If you’re human, you have an advantage. It’s easy to delete (and unsubscribe) from messages that come from a company. But when the message comes from a person, that’s different.

Important Point to Remember

Your From line matters more than your Subject line.

Why? Your email will be opened (or not) based on your offer (in direct response email) or the promise of value (in an email newsletter).

In either case, the relationship and trust between the subscriber and the brand is what triggers an open more than anything else.

There are a *TON* of tools that help you optimize your Subject Line. There’s no shortcut to optimizing a From line… that’s all on you and the value you provide.

Be really conscious of your From name as, on mobile, it’s got way more visual prominence than your subject line does.

The sender name is easy to change from within Email Octopus or any ESP provider. Your ESP may even make it easy to A/B test different sender names. You’ll quickly discover if a more human sender name affects open rates.

The next biggest factor in open rates is the subject line.

2. Use a sentence case subject line

After the sender name, your subject line is your next most important way to increase open rates. Let’s start with capitalization. You have two choices:

  1. Title case (“Top Factors in Email Open Rates”)
  2. Sentence case (“Top factors in email open rates”)

We recommend the Sentence case. 

Important Point

Always use the sentence case. Better comprehension and reading speed. If you think about it, your friends would never use a title case when emailing you.

It makes sense. You’re a person sending email to other people. So make the message feel like it’s from a person with a sentence case subject line. It’s another subtle way to humanize your email marketing.

3. Keep the subject line short (7 – 9 words at most)

Keep it short. Real emails from friends never have long subjects. Often they’re a single word. Also mobile Gmail only can fit so much.

Friends don’t write super long subject lines to each other. And long subject lines get truncated in the mobile inbox of their email client.

Mobile Gmail on portrait view may show just 30-40 characters.

Years ago, there was a study done that analyzed hundreds of thousands of emails and found short works a bit better. Seven word headlines performed best. In the dataset, the average seven word headline had 41 characters, but who’s counting!

4. Front load the subject line with the most impactful words

If you do write a longer headline, make sure the most impactful words are at the beginning.

Screens are small and mobile inboxes are cramped. Those first few words might be all that your subscriber sees. So be sure to get the important words and phrases into the beginning of your email subject line.

12 Key Factors To Increase Your Email Open Rates 2

5. Use numbers, odd or even

Numerals stand out against letters in lines of text. Unless they’re spelled out with letters, numbers improve the visual prominence of your subject line. Those numeric characters can make your email stand out a bit more in the email recipient’s inbox.

And odd numbers seem to work best, right? Everyone says so …but I’ve never seen the evidence. If you assume a correlation between subject lines and social posts, and use social engagement rates as a proxy for email open rates, then social media research may be helpful.

That research doesn’t suggest that odd numbers are any better than even numbers.

Why do numbers work well in subject lines?

Beyond adding visual prominence, when the number indicates that the content is a list, it tells the recipient that it will be easy to scan. It makes the email sound like it will be easy to quickly get value from.

6. Use the top performing words

Your subject line is your hook. If it doesn’t indicate a strong benefit or trigger curiosity, it’s not doing its job.

Some words work better than others. Here’s a selection of words that appeared in top-performing subject line words, according to the analysis of 48 billion emails by four different marketing research companies:

12 Key Factors To Increase Your Email Open Rates 3

Sources: Marketing Profs, ClickZ, Smart Insights, Adestra, Digital Marketer

Keep in mind, your subject line doesn’t have to be the same as the headline of an article. Subject lines have nothing to do with SEO, so there’s no need to include a target keyphrase.

Subject lines are strictly about empathy and psychology. Be unexpected, helpful, provocative—or all three. So tailor it specifically for the inbox.

ProTip: Use your top questions as subject lines

What’s the most common question people ask you? Use that exact question as your next email subject line. Your own audience is the best source of insights.

Your next great subject line is waiting for you in your email inbox, Live Q&A or in your DMS.

7. Use words that indicate visuals

Here’s another way that word choice can increase open rates.

If the email is promoting an article with a chart, diagram, infographic or video, mention it in the subject line. Ours is a small dataset, but we’ve noticed an uptick in open and clickthrough rates when we use an image word in our email subject lines.

Here are examples with those words highlighted:

  • Pictures of their desks: 26 top marketers take us inside
  • This flowchart shows the entire content creation process
  • How much do marketers make? 5 charts that show salary trends
  • 44 marketing diagrams: Swipe files of visuals you can use in your content
  • 7 charts that show how to make better marketing decisions

Compared to other subject lines with other types of words, these have outperformed. And it makes sense. Just like numbers, an image word indicates that the content will be easy to consume.

8. Write meaningful pre-header text

After the sender name and subject line, the pre-header text is the next most visible element of your message in the inbox. It is another way to indicate the benefits of reading and increase email open rates.

This is your final chance to get clicked or tapped.

But a lot of digital marketers pay little or no attention to the pre-header. They let the email service put a default message at the top of the email, and that first line of text gets used as the pre-header.

These are all terrible pre-headers:

  • “Can’t see this email? View message in a browser”
  • “Follow us on Facebook”
  • “Add us to safe sender list”
  • “Click here to unsubscribe”

The pre-header text deserves the same loving care you’d give your email subject line.

Important Point

Challenge yourself a little with that Pre-header! Use it!

  • Put the ACTUAL offer in the pre-header (and in the email itself). Use the subject line to test that offer. Baller move.
  • Personalize the pre-header — use someone’s name or info in it. Everyone personalizes the subject line — what if you thought differently?

Send a test email message to yourself. Look at it in your inbox. Don’t open the email. Just look at the message and ask yourself: 

Is the pre-header meaningful? Descriptive? Interesting? Is it getting truncated?  Would you click on this?

9. Send every email twice

For the last five years, for most of our emails, we send them twice. The first send is to everyone. The second is to those who didn’t engage with the first email. The process is simple:

  1. Send your entire list the email
  2. Wait five days
  3. Generate a list of the recipients who didn’t open the email.
  4. Send this list a second email with a different subject line

Does this sound overly aggressive?

It shouldn’t. If you truly believe that the email will help them, you should feel no hesitation in trying twice to reach them. They subscribed because they want to get your content. If they get tired of your emails, they can always unsubscribe.

10. Clean up your email list

Those old, inactive subscribers are dragging down your open rates. Purging them from your email list will immediately improve email open rates.

Sending a lot of low-performance campaigns can also hurt your reputation with the inbox providers, which can hurt the deliverability of your emails for everyone you send to. 

Important Point

Clean your list regularly to remove people who don’t open your emails anymore… because low open rates can negatively impact deliverability overall, which further hurts your open rates.

If you want to give a final push to get these less engaged subscribers a final chance, send a re-engagement campaign, inviting them to interact before you cut them from the list.

11. Use email authentication to improve deliverability (DKIM, DMARC, SPF)

If they don’t get the message, they can’t open it.

When we’ve reached out to experts for email advice, they’re recommending email authentication.

Here’s the idea: with an extra bit of technical work, the inbox providers can validate that your emails are coming from you, rather than coming from a spammer or a phishing attack. This reputation boost can improve deliverability and keep you out of the spam folder.

There are three methods and standards for authentication: SPF, DKIM and DMARC:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework) lets you specify which IP addresses are authorized to send emails on your behalf.
  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is an encrypted signature that verifies you as the email sender.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) combines the results from SPF and DKIM to validate the identity of the sender as you.

12. Send welcome series emails

Some emails have much higher open rates than others. You can increase your overall open rate by sending more high-open rate emails.

The emails with the highest open rates are typically the automatically-sent welcome series emails, that are triggered when you have a new subscriber. They’re set up in your email service provider on whatever schedule you decide.

Why are welcome series email open rates so high?

There are two reasons:

  • Unlike other emails, the timing of these is triggered by the visitor. So they are sent when the subscriber’s interest is high. They’re new to your list.
  • Unlike other emails, you can continue to optimize for better open rates, tuning up the subject lines, using words you know to be effective based on results of past campaigns.

I believe these 12 key factors will help you get higher email open rates than usual. If you are new to list building or need help getting consistent amount of warm leads every month, check out my #1 recommendation here for list building program that actually works (I made more than $1K from this).

I truly hope you like this article as much as I love writing it. It would be awesome if you might learn something new here to accompany your journey to freedom.  

So that's it for now and feel free to cruise on another post inside my website. Thank you!

At your service,

Freedom Cruiser Team