open rates

Increasing open rates on mail outs is really hard.

In fact, it can take a lot of testing and tweaking to even just get a small percentage of a change in how many people open up the emails that you send out.

Today I’d like to show you a few experiments where I’ve been having some wins (and fails!) with my own mail outs.

There’s also two tricks in there that I “borrowed” from people who know what they’re doing.

Click here to listen and subscribe on iTunes or you can right click and select ‘Save Target’ if you’d like to download to your computer.

I really hope you enjoy this one!

Increasing open rates and other mailing list fun

This topic is extremely important for bloggers because it is the mailing list that allows us to promote our new posts and products, protect ourselves from Google and build a longterm stable business.

If you’re still not growing a mailing list I really can’t emphasize it enough. Here is a big post I did on how to get more email subscribers which should give you a good start.

Remember, it’s not enough to just grow a mailing list. You need email subscribers that are interested in the content strategy that you are working on. Getting email subscribers is expensive and takes a lot of time – you want to make sure you’re hitting the right markets.

Mentioned in this podcast:

How are your open rates?

I know this is a sore spot for a lot of bloggers. I’m curious to know what you’ve tried to increase your own open rates and what has worked and what hasn’t. Please leave a comment below if you have anything notable/ to share or any questions about the topic.

Looking forward to an interesting chat on this one!

Β© Alphaspirit |


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  1. liz@lifedreaming on August 21, 2014

    Brilliant & Timely

    I’m sending out my first Lovin’ Life Dreaming e mag tomorrow and will be using all these ideas.

    Love the presell idea and will be sending messages on all my social media today.

    I did a short vid today that I’m embedding in the mag and can’t wait to get it out.

    Thanks as ever mate and yup – I’m one of the first readers you had and I am certainly well trained to read your emails.

    Best ideas yet Ramsay


    1. liz@lifedreaming on August 21, 2014

      p.s I got a mention on Problogger last week! A guest blogger mentioned me and we became friends through this blog. Thanks to Johanna and this is her post

      1. AWESOME!

    2. Thanks so much for listening and supporting this new thing, Liz! Love having you around still.

      1. liz@lifedreaming on August 22, 2014

        I’ll be around when you celebrate your millionth follower! Your information is always so practical and useful and gets me thinking.

        Hope your cold is better.

        And – first time I ever got to be the first comment in all these years!

        1. Million followers. I doubt that.

          1. Salman Ravoof on September 2, 2014

            I doubt you πŸ™‚

            Keep growing.

  2. A tip on images in an email. To get an idea of how much of a difference it can make in your reported open rate, add a single image to the next newsletter and refer to it within the email. For example, “as seen below, the blue widget does produce better results.” This can be enough for some people to click that “view images in email” option and thus reflect a more accurate open rate.

    1. Just to clarify, don’t add an image just to have an image. Call the reader to look at it and give them a reason to look at it.

      1. Yeah this is a good tip. I used to do that for my first Follow Up email so that it was “out of the way” – so to speak. I should probably do it again. I removed it for some reason.

  3. Adam Franklin on August 21, 2014

    Hey Ramsay,

    I love the “experiments” podcast. Your approach is one I adopt myself. Always A/B testing πŸ˜‰

    And great question… In the last 3 months our open rates have been between 19-25% and our list has grown to 12,500 people.

    One thing that I find works well is to re-send your email to the people who have “not-opened” after say 4-5 days. I use an alternate subject line and it typically gets an extra 8-12% opens.

    (So to clarify: we get 19-25% open rate for first send, then 8-12% on the second send, for a cumulative total of around the ~30-35% mark).

    Thank you!

    1. Are you not concerned that this might become spam? I never know how to handle double messaging (in real life and email).

      1. Yeah good point Martin. Never considered that.

      2. Adam Franklin on August 22, 2014

        Hi Martin, I was very worried about annoying people and that stopped me from testing it out for many years.

        When I did test it out, it got that ~10% open rate and no increase in unsubscribes. Some people actually wrote to thank me for sending a follow up email because they didn’t get a chance to read it the first time.

        It’s not even close to spam in my mind because it’s valuable information that people have signed up for and want to receive, and I’m giving them another opportunity to read it at a time more convenient to them (typically on a weekend).

        In real life, if I call someone up with something useful to tell them but they don’t answer, I leave a message, but I still call them back at a time more convenient to them. I hope that helps explain my take on it.


        1. Adam Franklin on August 22, 2014

          I know Vision 6 allows you to do it automatically with their
          “campaigns feature” but I do it manually in Campaign Monitor. It’s very easy to do though, and it can be scheduled too.

          1. Well said.

    2. Thanks for sharing, Adam. Do you use a service that allows you to do that automatically? I know Get Response does but I don’t think AWeber does that automatic segmentation.

  4. BTXP 003: 6 Ways to Increase Open Rates on Your Mail Outs (Plus Two Tricks) | US Home Work Force on August 21, 2014

    […] BTXP 003: 6 Ways to Increase Open Rates on Your Mail Outs (Plus Two Tricks) […]

  5. I have a suggestion, but it might not be one you would expect. I know I was surprised when it worked.
    I was concerned that my mail outs had between 10% and 14% open rates. A business mentor suggested I delete the bad subscribers to improve the rating. I was mortified! What — DELETE those addresses I worked so hard to get it the first place??
    She told me to poke around my subscriber settings to see if there was an option to sort the email address according to the rate of opens, click-throughs, and never opened.
    Lo and behold, there is was: Out of my 4000 subscribers, a list of about 700 email addresses which had never EVER opened my emails even once.
    So I sent them a nice reminder to revisit the website (even gave them a coupon code!) and to reconsider our newsletter. I mentioned that if they wanted to stay on the list, all they had to do was open one of our past newsletters or open the new one I would be sending in a few days. If they wanted to leave, they didn’t have to do a thing, I would take care of it for them in 30 days. I also gave an unsubscribe link, in case they wanted to expedite the process.
    That experiment was two months ago. I have since deleted about 500 of those 700+ dormant addresses, and have turned about 200 into active readers (plus generated some sales with those coupon codes).
    And guess what? My open rates now average between 18% and 25%.
    It was a risk, but it paid off. Given the option, I would always choose a lower active readership than a bloated dormant email list.

    1. Katie I’m so glad I checked the spam folder because this is such a good comment!

      Such good tips here. It really is so important to make sure you keep an active list of subscribers. How often do you do it?

      1. When I send out my January email, I highlight the unsubscribe option. I also theme the email on “clean up” as it applies to my niche. Eek, I’m late for a lunch appointment! Got to go!

  6. Christian on August 22, 2014

    As you mentioned above I think even a small percentage in AB testing can change a lot on your blog or web project and it also save a lot of money!

    1. Totally agree!

  7. Salman Ravoof on August 23, 2014

    I’ll bookmark this.

    I just started with my personal blog and still figuring about how to go about email marketing. It all seems such a hard task at first.

    I’m using the MailPoet plugin as of now on my blog. It’s good for beginners I guess as I don’t have that many subscribers.

    1. Please let me know how you go with MP. I’ve heard a lot about it but never tried it.

      1. Salman Ravoof on August 24, 2014

        Frankly, I’m the wrong guy to ask since I started just a few weeks back.

        But I’ll still try.

        MailPoet is a WordPress plugin (earlier called wysija) wherein you mainly control all your newsletters and subscriptions right from the WP dashboard itself. It’s all a manual process, but there are ways to automate it too.

        The plugin also has other features like post notifications and autoresponders.

        I like the way it handles newsletters. Simply drag and drop whatever content you need directly from your WP repository and create the newsletter you want to without any hassles.

        1. Salman Ravoof on September 2, 2014

          UPDATE: I’ve stopped using this plugin because it had a serious vulnerability a few days back. Switched back to Feedburner. Need to figure out how to use MailChimp.

  8. Ken Lyons on August 24, 2014

    Hi Ramsay… great info here. I’ve just signed up for Aweber through your affiliate link and will be adding it to my site shortly (with a free ebook download incentive!). I’m really enjoying the information you share here… great stuff.

    Thought you should know though that the link “how to get more email subscribers” in the article above is borked πŸ™‚

    Thanks again!

    1. Thank you.

      Thank you.

      And, thank you!


      1. Ken Lyons on August 24, 2014

        You’re welcome, you’re welcome and you’re welcome… πŸ™‚

  9. Hey there, I use mailchimp and i feel it is way better than any other in terms of their user interface and technology stack. There are many more email marketing companies i have seen but it is undisputed leader.

    1. I dispute this. πŸ˜‰

  10. I definitely think that having a good title is one of the key ways to get more opens and clicks. The controversial titles do get people interested, but as you mentioned when they are continually being used it can get a bit annoying. Which is why, a good strategy would be to work on your copy writing skills period. Not only is this going to be good for your email marketing, but good titles are likely to get more people interested in reading your post when you post the links on social media or when they visit your site.

    1. Awesome comment, Ariane. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I’ve done these things to keep my open rate on a high:

    Keep it short and sweet
    Hold the links to one (possibly 2)
    Include as much information about the reader
    Be consistent with delivery
    Every email must add value to reader
    No pictures
    No sales pitch
    No RSS
    Text Form In HTML
    You must have an amazing subject line
    Reply to Messages

    What ya think? It’s actually the secret formula to Gmail.

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