How to Increase Your Email Open Rates

Savvy email marketers know that the goal of an email isn’t to make a sale, sellout an event, or renew thousands of members – it’s to get a click. Your landing page and website do the selling, but your email needs to entice the reader and convince them to click.

But before you can even get a subscriber to click a link in your email, you need to get them to open it.

It sounds simple, but the 2016 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report revealed that the average email open rate for associations is 36%. That’s 64% of your audience that doesn’t even get a chance to engage with your email.

If your open rates need a boost this year, here’s how you can be hitting (and exceeding) benchmarks.

Test Your Subject Line

Crafting the perfect subject line is no small feat. Every audience is different, and what works amazingly well for one organization could be a complete flop for yours – and vice versa. That’s where subject line testing comes into play.

Novice email testers should keep these things in mind: only test one thing at a time to get an accurate read of the results, be creative, and never stop testing. Testing is a continuous process – one subject line test will not give you a complete understanding of your audience. Test, test, and test again.

Wondering what to test? Our recent subject line trend report revealed that marketers are having success with testing the use of dollar signs when talking about savings, declarative versus subject lines posed as a question, dates, and even emojis and special characters.

Timing is Everything

One of the most popular questions we hear when it comes to email marketing is “When is the right time to send an email?” The answer has become pretty standard: whenever your subscriber’s looking for it!

Our own marketing team recently discovered that we happened to be nailing the timing with our resource library autoresponder emails, because our open rates for the triggered emails were 52%. In this instance, subscribers were recently on our website (as in the last five minutes or less), engaging with our content, searching for resources, or reading a blog post that lead them to our resource library. Landing in their inbox when our content was top of mind is what got 52% of recipients to open.

If you’re sending a mass email to thousands of recipients and timing can be tricky, use send time optimization to customize your send time and land your email at the top of the inbox for each individual subscriber.

Use a Preheader

Preheaders are untapped real estate in an email. A preheader is the top section of your email message – the first couple of lines on your email – and the first section email recipients see.

Popular copy for this section has often been something along the lines of “Having trouble viewing this email? View our mobile version here,” or “Click here to download images.” Now that we’re (hopefully) all designing mobile-friendly or responsive emails, why waste this precious space?

Think of your preheader as a complement to the subject line. Since short and sweet subject lines tend to be best with an increase in mobile email users, give subscribers a taste of what’s inside with a descriptive preheader.

Email marketing is an art and a science – you have to be creative and analyze your metrics to truly understand what resonates with your audience and encourages action. Apply these tips to your next campaign and keep your eye on your open rates. They’ll be on the rise!

Alex Mastrianni is the Marketing Manager at Informz, an email marketing and marketing automation company for associations. For more resources like this and a behind the scenes look at our own marketing team’s trials and tribulations, check out

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