With 3.9 billion people using email worldwide (a number that’s set to grow to 4.48 billion in 2024, according to Statista), email marketing remains an essential tactic for connecting with your prospects and customers. But if no one sees your email, how can it make an impact? As you might have guessed, it can’t. Use these 5 tips and tactical tools to help ensure email opens and knock your digital campaigns out of the park.
1. Optimize Your Subject Lines
We can’t talk about open rate without discussing subject lines—they’re everything. The subject line is the gatekeeper that determines whether you earn a prospect’s attention. Below are best practices to follow when creating your subject lines.
- A/B Test: Your subject line is the easiest component of your email to A/B test. Basically, you deploy 2 versions of your email, each with a different subject line, to a percentage of your target email list. This way, you can determine which subject line performs better, and use the winner when you send your email to the remainder of your list. It’s worth doing for every email.
- Don’t RE: If your email isn’t a reply, don’t put “RE” in front of your subject line. This is a great way to irritate your audience and encourage them to take the extra step and hit unsubscribe—or worse, submit a spam complaint.
- Be Compelling: Your subject line should pique interest and create a sense of urgency. You can also use your send name to support your message. For example, if you’re sending educational messaging, you might consider using a from address of “[Your Brand Name] Education” to encourage opens from those interested in learning.
- But… Don’t Misrepresent Your Message:Don’t oversell your value or use phrasing that overpromises what your message will provide to the viewer.
- Personalize the Message: This can be done by including the prospect’s name or another hyper-relevant piece of information that shows the message is highly customized for them.
- Avoid Spam Words: We’ll cover the whole list of no-no’s in tip 2.
- Use Emoji Cautiously: They are cute and can communicate a lot, but spam filters don’t ❤️ them, unfortunately.
- Write Preview Text: When you run your email tests, make sure you’re evaluating the preview text. This is the sentence that shows up under your email’s subject line in inboxes. Some email platforms allow you to specifically set your preview text, although others just pull in the first line of text from your email. Make sure this text is descriptive and free of spam trigger words.
2. Avoid Spam Trigger Words
The list of words that trigger spam filters is much longer than you might think. While we mostly talk about avoiding them in subject lines, we also need to pay close attention to whether or not they appear in our preview text, too. Plus, words that feel spammy in the body copy of your email can also act as a turn-off to prospects. Here’s a short list of words that can negatively impact your email opens:
- Act now
- Apply online
- Call now
- Call-to-action words, like click and open
- Get it now
- Online pharmacy
- Symbols and numbers, especially the dollar sign and percent symbol
For more spam trigger words, check out HubSpot’s ultimate list.
3. Don’t Embed Forms or Rich Media
Many email clients don’t support forms or other similar types of embedded content. It’s best to avoid them to ensure a good experience for all users.
Plus, make sure you’re considering the mobile experience. More than 40% of email opens are typically from mobile devices, which means a good chunk of your prospects will likely read your email on a small screen. In addition, mobile email features are often different from desktop, so it’s best to avoid complex embeds.
If you’re using images in your email, make sure they are not essential to your message. Some email clients will not automatically download your image. Think about the user experience if there is no visible image. To be safe, add a description to your images in case they don’t load for the viewer.
4. Consider the Sent From Address
Sending authority is important. If an email address has a poor reputation—often driven by high bounce rates and spam complaints—then future emails are more likely to get caught by spam filters. Don’t send emails from an individual’s personal email address. This can negatively impact their deliverability for one-to-one emails in the long term.
Use one of these free tools to check your sending reputation.
5. Keep Your Email List Healthy
Keeping your database clean can improve your email deliverability (and email opens) by reducing spam complaints and removing unengaged prospects from your communications. Some email platforms have the option to suppress unengaged contacts from email communications while you work to reengage them.
Segmentation is another great way to keep your list performing. Don’t send every email to every person in your database. Instead, send messages only to the relevant subsets of your audience. This strategy results in higher open rates, lower opt-out and unsubscribe rates, and ultimately more qualified lead generation.