Vanessa DeBurlet

12 Best Practices to Exponentially Increase Your Email Open Rates

Vanessa DeBurlet



12 Best Practices to Exponentially Increase Your Email Open Rates

In email marketing, how do you engage with your email list in a way that makes them not only open your emails – but also stay on the edge of their seats to get your next one? 

Email inboxes are more competitive than ever. In fact, according to data from Radicati, about 205 billion emails are sent/received per day. This figure is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3% over the next four years, reaching over 246 billion by the end of 2019…

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Amidst such a flood of information, how do you know YOUR message is reaching the eyes of your audience? You and your business have value to share – and you need people to pay attention to it. Yet sometimes it can be much harder than it seems simply to get people to open your emails. Why? 

In this post, I share twelve best practices for increasing your open rate. By incorporating these, you should see your open rates increase exponentially if not double. So grab a pen and notebook – time to start checking these off! 

1. Keep Your List Cleaned Out

If you continue sending emails to people who are not opening them, it’s not only an inconvenience – it also may ultimately hurt more than help you. Thanks to email system algorithms, your autoresponder is going to pick up on how many emails aren’t being opened and will start assuming that what you’re sending isn’t going to be opened by those audience members. In addition, you just can’t serve everyone; not everyone is going to want the information you provide. And once you grow your email list into the thousands, you’ll be paying fees for your emails – so why pay for emails that no one’s reading? 

You want to remove these and “clean up” your account. Some autoresponders require you to manually remove audience members. A note, however: if you use ActiveCampaign as your email management software, it will track your unopened emails and can automatically remove your unresponsive audience members if you ask it to. This is definitely a perk if your schedule is already packed and you don’t want to add one more thing to do! 

2. Make Sure You Don’t Over Deliver – In Volume, Not Value

Some email marketers say that you should “get in front of your audience” every single day – but think about your own perspective. None of us prefer to get emails from someone every single day. We’ve all experienced it before – and soon, you get tired of seeing that person or business’s name pop up. Even if you initially enjoy their content, you lose enthusiasm when you receive a barrage of information – it is no longer a treat to read.

3. Write Enough To Stay Relevant

This is related to #2. You don’t want to annoy your audience, but you also don’t want them to forget you’re here. I recommend sending emails two to three times a week, alternating your send days. If you send regularly but incorporate some inconsistency, people begin to think, “Oh, there’s an email! I was looking for one.”

Stay in Front of Your Audience – But Don’t Annoy Them

Personally, I usually average five emails every two weeks – roughly two to three per week. I also mix up which days I send emails on. This way I “stay in front” of my audience, but not so much that they become annoyed or start to ignore me. 

4. Don’t Email On Weekends

Usually, a quick look at your analytics and algorithms will show that most people do not open emails on the weekend – period. You’ll often be better off skipping Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and focusing your efforts on the other days of the week. 

You will also be more likely to have higher open rates if you email between 11:30 to 2:30 Monday through Thursday. Unless your audience is atypical, most people check email over their lunch hour at work. By sending emails over this timeframe, you’re simply allowing yourself to be “available” to your audience when they are most available. 

5. Don’t Sell In Every Single Email

Again, think about your own experience. If you’ve had someone try to sell you something in every email, you know firsthand how tiring it gets – and how you tend to write off the rest of what they say, too. People don’t like to be sold to. 

Provide Solid, Valuable Content 80% of the Time and Only Offer a Tool or Sell a Product 20% of the Time

Instead, focus on the 80-20 rule. If you provide solid, valuable content 80% of the time and only offer a tool or sell a product 20% of the time, you’ll likely find this to be a good balance. 

6. Segment And Tag Your Emails

Even if you’re at the beginning of your email marketing journey and you’re not sure how it will benefit you in the future, do it anyway – it will help you down the road! To borrow from a personal example, while everyone on my own email list may be interested in starting a business, they may not all be interested in starting an affiliate business. Some may be interested in a different topic I’ve shared, like email marketing, and I want to tag these accordingly. 

 Let’s imagine that I work in health and fitness, and I usually send out content about nutrition and exercise. I then decide to send out a free lead magnet that talks about weight lifting and how to safely increase the level of your weights with a few simple routine workouts. If anyone joins my email list through this lead magnet, I want to tag them so I know they joined because they were interested in weight-lifting. 

Now, down the road, I may want to send those audience members some specific information – perhaps a campaign (a unique group of emails to a particular audience), rather than my normal continuous email sequence. Let’s say I’ve come across a great weightlifting workout program I’d like to offer as an affiliate program. I can specifically send this information to the people on my list who will be most likely to appreciate it. So tag and segment your audience based on why they join your list, and you can cater more accurately to their needs. 

7. Ask Questions So That You Get Responses In Your Email

This actually increases deliverability. If you can get your audience to respond to your emails, it is similar to actively engaging with your audience on social media. The more your audience responds, the better your open rates will be. An active audience is infinitely valuable to your business, so do what it takes to engage them. 

Email marketing

8. Use Stories

People don’t want to simply be talked to – they want to know you. They want to know your stories. They want to know how the information you provide relates to their own lives and to things they understand. We know from our own experiences that facts, though accurate and true, can be incredibly dry. Imagine receiving an email stating the details of a workout routine you could do – with nothing else. You wouldn’t be very motivated to incorporate it, would you? 

Use the Power of Story

But imagine if I sent you that same email, sharing a story of how I went from sitting in a chair with two-pound weights to where I am today. Suddenly you have a visual. You can relate more personally. You might even share a laugh, thinking about how easy two-pound weights ought to be. And suddenly you’re much more open to this idea – you can imagine yourself into my story. You might even be more willing to open my next email, wondering what sort of story you might find inside. 

9. Warm Up The IP

You may not have the email volume yet to worry about this – but eventually, this is where you want to be. What does this mean? If you have a large list of audience members – say 100,000, you obviously cannot send all 100,000 emails at once. Spam and auto-responders do NOT like this. So one thing you can do is send out your emails in smaller increments – say 5,000, every few minutes instead. 

Some people I know who have large email lists will actually use two different auto-responders just in case one shuts down. Your email list is your bread-and-butter, and you want to make sure that one is always working. Even if your social media account gets shut down, as an acquaintance of mine just experienced, you’ll still have your email list. In this person’s case, they lost a Facebook account with 25,000 followers – but they still had their email list, so they did not lose their audience. 

To be on the safe side, you can also export your audience lists on a regular basis. This way, even if your autoresponder shuts down, you can ensure you won’t lose your hard-won audience list. 

10. Make Sure People Can Unsubscribe From Your List

Yes, you legally have to do this. But have you ever tried to unsubscribe to someone’s list, only to find that they’re still sending you emails? I’ve personally experienced this by being “duplicated” on someone’s account after signing up for a few different things. Even if I’ve unsubscribed once, I have continued to receive emails. So make certain your unsubscribe button works, and that people aren’t getting duplicated into your list. 

Make sure people are free to unsubscribe

With my own email list, I have arranged my settings so that audience members can only come in once under the same email, and the system will identify duplicates so that my audience doesn’t end up on multiple lists. 

11. Make Sure You Always Have A Call To Action

You might be thinking, “But you told me not to sell something every time!” – and this is true. A call to action does NOT mean selling something. Your call to action can be something as simple as an affiliate link, a question to respond to, a subscribe, a Facebook group to join, or simply a request for a comment or thumbs-up. It engages your audience and gives them something to do. Choose one and incorporate it into each email. 

12. Don’t Use Swipe Files

This is very important – especially if you’re new. For example, if you’ve signed up to become an affiliate marketer with ClickBank, they’ll send you all their files to use – for example, emails to send. You could theoretically just copy-and-paste these, which sounds enticing to a new marketer. But if you use exactly what they give you, it is called a swipe file – and it’s more likely to be picked up as spam because many other people are also using the exact same file.

Even if it doesn’t get marked as spam, these swipe files don’t truly say who YOU are. Let’s say you send out a five-email sequence, one we call the “soap opera sequence”. You’ve introduced yourself and started warming up your audience in the first few emails – and then suddenly you use a swipe file. In its original state, it does not represent who you are, it does not use the same language or vocabulary, and it can really throw things off. 

I recommend editing the file and personalizing it to better match YOU and your voice. You can still use the information as a guide, but make it become you. Put yourself into the story. Use it in a way that warms up your audience and lets them see that you are consistent in your emails. 

Make it become YOU. Put yourself into the story.

In summary, these are twelve different best practices for upping your email open rates – and finding more success as an email marketer. If you’re ready to learn more and really dig into the process of building and bettering your email list, I’ve created a free video series to help you get going. Check it out here! 

You’ve got a message to share with the world – and now, even with so much competition, you can get it to your audience.  

You’ve Got This!

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