7 Proven Ways To Increase Your Email Open & Click-Thru Rates

“LoL… 100% conversion is impossible!”

That was all I needed to hear. It doesn’t even matter who said it, I was now on a mission to prove that statement wrong.

Today we’re not talking about sales though, we’re talking about getting your emails read and your links clicked. We’re talking about little conversion boosters that can produce thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands depending on your offer and audience.

Critical First Steps

The tactics you are about to discover can improve conversions to a cold audience and without you even knowing what that audience prefers yet. However, for best results we suggest using these techniques with an audience that you are very familiar with.

Poll them, call them, meet them face-to-face, do whatever it takes to learn exactly what problems, concerns, and desires your audience has.

Use the methods below with a subscriber list where you know exactly what they want, why they want it, and how they want it. When you do, you’ll get conversion numbers so high they’ll baffle your peers.

With that said, let’s get this party started. First we’ll address getting those emails opened and then we’ll work on increasing clicks.

The Almighty Question Mark?

When you add a question mark to the end of any statement it forces the brain to read the statement as though it were a question. For example, I’m using it in the title of this tactic.

It makes you think “What is he talking about and how does it work?”

Which means it’s engaging the reader mentally. Any ad that is engaging the reader mentally is going to get a higher response rate. I’ve added a question mark to my Adwords ads, Facebook ads, email subject lines, and blog post titles. EVERY TIME it has increased the conversions.

Sometimes only by a slight margin and sometimes by as much as 200% – Just by adding one more character to your subject line. You don’t have to turn your subject line into a question to use this tactic. In fact I recommend you don’t, just add a “?” to the end of any subject line.

Subject Line Jewelry

Why do people wear jewelry?

To get more attention, look pretty, and overall get more attention. You can use this same concept with your email subject lines by adding “jewelry” to them. Here are some examples of what I mean by “jewelry”

=> This Is My Killer Subject Line
// This Is My Killer Subject Line \\
>> This Is My Killer Subject Line

In today’s world of crowded inboxes these little attention getter’s… get attention! They make your subject line stand out among all the other subject lines. However, I suggest using them sparingly or else your subscribers could become blind to it from see it too often.

Convincing Captions [work great!]

We all know that a call-to-action improves conversions. Except subject lines don’t have room for call-to-actions? Or do they?

This Is My Killer Subject Line [must see]
This Is My Killer Subject Line [inside]
This Is My Killer Subject Line [time sensitive]
This Is My Killer Subject Line [voted best]

Just like the subject line jewelery these captions get more attention because they stand out in the list of subject lines. However, they also add the conversion boosting power of a call-to-action.

Branded Subject Lines

When a cattleman wants to make sure everyone recognizes his cattle among all the others in a herd, what does he do? He takes a hot branding iron and brands his cows.

The modern day email cowboy can brand his subject lines just like his horsey riding cousins did to their cows. This tip does require that you are using autoresponders or a follow-up series of some kind. Just use the first email in the series to tell the audience what your brand looks like and that they should be looking for it.

It can be as simple as adding your initials with brackets or creating your own design using the keyboard characters. For example, here are two versions I currently use.

[JB] This Is My Killer Subject Line
[|> This Is My Killer Subject Line

The second one is supposed to look like a diamond. I tell every new subscriber to watch for special emails among our normal schedule with the “[|>” because that means it’s a “marketing diamond.” Meaning a tip or story or deal that is better than what we normally send out.

While it does make them pay less attention to our other emails, we get incredible open rates on the ones that we REALLY want to make sure they read.

The first one is something I use on one of my follow-up series so they know it’s me writing to them. I know they can see the “from” field but that’s not usually looked at in the scrolling glance that’s used for choosing an email to open up first.

The Secret Discount

Switching gears now to getting your emails acted on, here is campaign I’ve used very effectively several times over the years.

While I’m not a fan of discounting your products (trains the customer to wait for sales) this one-two punch combo is too good for me to resist.

You write your “Hey we have a special discount today” email like you normally would. Except you don’t tell them what the discount is or the price. You leave them hanging by never mentioning the actual percentage of the discount or you specifically say “you’ll have to click to find out.”

The curiosity power of a “secret” along with the power of a “sale” create an explosion of clicks.

The “Bad Hair Day” CTA

People love to be entertained, and they love seeing someone else make a mistake. I’m not talking about anything evil, but have you ever laughed when a friend tripped?

Obviously, not if he fell and got hurt, but if it was a little trip you probably giggled a little and poked some fun at them. If you’ve ever had a bad hair day in a picture you know how much attention it got you, and is maybe STILL getting you.

When you write your email as normal add a P.S. or something just below the call to action that creates some entertaining curiosity. For example, “When you see the video PLEASE don’t laugh at my hair, I was having a bad hair day.” Here are some more examples…

“Go to the page now but please don’t laugh at my typing, my wife played a trick on me by switching a couple of my keyboard keys around”

“Learn more about the product here, but don’t laugh at the shirt I’m wearing, I didn’t know we were going to be using this video for our product demo.”

The Twitter Email

People don’t try to make a sale from their business card or from Twitter. Instead they use those tools to bring the person into a better sales environment. Business cards get people to call your office and Twitter gets people to visit your website.

It is possible to make a sale directly from the inbox, but it is not the best environment for sales. There are much better environments like webinars and sales pages.

Instead of using the email to try and say as much as possible, why not try saying as little as possible. Treat the email like it was Twitter and limit the message to the most important or most attractive part and then drop your link.

This will create a very short email that can be read at a glance. It’s a little annoying when used all the time, but when used every once in awhile it creates a very strong amount of curiosity and desire to find out more.

Here’s an example I would use for Unbounce:

Hey John,

We just added a new feature that makes landing pages twice as effective.

Read about it here


Unbounce Team

There you have it, 7 proven ways to increase your email open & click-thru rates. At worst you have 7 new things to try and maybe will boost conversions a little. At best you have 7 new tools in your toolbox for dramatically increasing your conversions.

If you have a tip you have used that worked well or a question about one above… Then tell us below in the comment section, I’ll be reading and replying to every one of them for the next few days.

— Justin Brooke

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About Justin Brooke
Justin Brooke, aka TheRebelMisterB, is a copywriter, darn good blogger and speaks internationally about topics relating to Internet marketing. Clients have called him the “Kimbo Slice of Internet Business” and he proclaims that his conversion numbers make men cry!
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