How can I improve the open rate and the response rate of emails?

Email deliverability is essential for the success of email campaigns. Your domain authority and your sender reputation as well.
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A catchy and personalized title for your recipients leads to higher open rates and fewer barriers to spam filters.

Here is a list of 14 techniques to improve the open rate of your emails:

  1. Use the names of your prospects
  2. Use emojis (not 50 either...) to stand out from the crowd
  3. Make the subject line as specific as possible more (use a prospect's interest, company name, place where they work, first name, etc...)
  4. If you're wondering if it sounds too much like an “email marketing”, then it sounds too much like a marketing email 🦊
  5. Experiment with questions in the subject lines
  6. Use numbers/percentages (odd numbers have been shown to have better open rates)
  7. Keep it short and to the point.
  8. Segment your lists.
  9. Start with action verbs.
  10. Make recipients feel special.
  11. Create a sense of importance.
  12. Don't be afraid to play word games.
  13. DO NOT USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or abuse exclamation points!!!
  14. Don't include a question and an exclamation in the same subject. (?!!)

Let's see it all together

How to optimize the subject of your emails for a better open rate

Why is optimizing the subject of an email important?

The most important part of your email is the subject line.

Even if it's just a few words, you should Devote just as much attention and care to your subject line That you wouldn't for the content of your emails.

Indeed, if your subject line does not propel the recipient to open the email, all the writing you have done - even spending hours writing using your best pen - will have been for nothing.

A simple and quick first job to detect the right Email Subjects would be to open your inbox (personal or professional) and write down the emails you have opened.

Now ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why did you do it?
  • What motivated you to do it?
  • What level of personalization did the emails you read have had?
  • etc...
Boîte de réception Gmail
Gmail inbox

What is the ideal length of an email subject?

Studies have shown that long objects have a significantly higher response rate than short objects.

More specifically, objects that are 36 to 50 characters in length get the best response rate.

To compare the response rates of the objects, we placed them in 3 groups: short, long, and very long.

Thus, we found that the long subjects outperformed short subjects by 32.7% as shown in the chart below.

Etude menée sur les Taux de réponses entre des emails courts et longs
Study conducted on response rates between short and long emails

Why are Long Objects the most interesting?

This is probably because long objects allow you to more precisely detail the content of your message.

For example, imagine a very short subject like”Quick question“:

Objet d'un Email Court
Email subject too short

In just 15 characters, it's impossible for your recipient to know what your email is about.

This may be a question about its Sales Process or a project to redesign its Information Systems.

Additionally, like your Subject does not demonstrate anything specific, your email does not stand out and gives the impression of being generic before he even opened it.

Contrast that with an object like this:”Quick question about your last item

Objet idéal d'un Email
Ideal subject of an email

This subject is much more specific. So, if the recipient decides to open your email, they'll know what to expect.

However, it is possible that your object is too long.

Take the following example:

“Quick question about your last article on the best tips of Growth Hackers

It is an extremely detailed object. But it's likely to be muted by most inboxes (like Gmail or Outlook):

Objet trop long d'un Email
Email subject line that is too long
For those who would like to test the length of the subject line of their emails, Excel or Google Sheets allows you to use the function NBCAR (LEN (in English) to count the number of characters you use.
This can be handy to test lots of alternatives quickly and to store the best items you've found.

How to optimize the content of your emails?

The mission of your email

Once your email has been opened, there is only one mission that needs to be completed:  Get a response.

To ensure that you always have the right tone and the right words, it is important to always keep in mind the representation of your Buyer Persona. This will require you to put yourself in the heads of your prospects to be as empathetic and relevant as possible:

  • You're talking about something they care about,
  • You're solving one of their problems,
  • You enable them to achieve their goals,
  • Etc...

Using the right words in emails is an art form in itself because you have to know how to be effective, convincing and all this in a minimum of words.

Each email should have only one purpose.

Don't overwhelm recipients with available choices.

As we have just seen, it should be clear for them to Understand the next step or action to take

Examples of goals would be:

  1. To get the name of a decision maker
  2. Organize a physical or telephone meeting

It should not be both!

What is the ideal length of email content?

Like everyone else, your prospect is overwhelmed and their inbox is never empty.

It has a Limited number of hours per day and has too many things that limit his attention. And then... your prospecting email arrives... Let's say your subject line works quite well and the prospect opens your email.

What is he looking at now?

Could an endless 10-paragraph email that extols your company's products or services help it reach its goals? Help him in his difficulties? Rather, what do you think of a clear and concise email that meets one of his needs?

According to a study conducted by the company Boomerang , there is a clear correlation between the number of words in an email and the response rate.

Etude de la longueur idéale d'un Email menée par la société Boomerang
Study of the ideal length of an email conducted by Boomerang

The aim of an ideal email is to target 50 to 100 words.

Keep in mind that email is increasingly being read on smartphones.

Make it easier for your recipients to read by offering a better understanding of your emails so that they know what to do or what to expect.

Keep emails short. When you can't, at least make them easy to read

Writing short emails isn't always possible and there are going to be times when you have to use tricks to format them intelligently.

Here are a few tips:

  • Distinct Sections
  • Highlighting titles
  • Use bold for important information
  • Create bullet point lists (a bit like this one!)

Good formatting allows the reader to read and understand the message more easily.

Make it easier for them to read by using the right formatting to get better response rates.

Avoid email templates that are too “marketing”

Even if you use templates, your emails should feel personalized.

Avoid fancy HTML designs, they should look like emails written and sent by natural persons and not by automated tools.

Anything that looks like Mass communication will have a lower opening rate and/or answers.

Personalize your emails

It's worth remembering that you need to personalize your emails.

Take the trouble to take a 30-second look at someone's website, LinkedIn profile, or Twitter page to see if there's anything you could use to add warmth to your emails.

Taking an interest in others means giving yourself the means to go further.

Here is an example, based on a recruitment company model. The latter shows how a few minutes of searching on Google can completely transform the quality of your email 📩

Exemple Email d'une société de recrutement
Email example from a recruitment company

So you type Jean's name into Google and you find his Twitter profile.

Looking through his profile, you can see that he really enjoys snowboarding and that he even won an award last weekend.

Perfect! 😍

Email retravaillé prenant l'exemple d'une société de recrutement
Reworked email using the previous example of a recruitment company

As you can see, it can be easy to add a few personal touches to the content of your emails. These elements will make a big difference among the poverty of the emails that we all receive every day.

Use “Advice” emails

There is no better way to reach out to someone than to ask for advice.

According to a study conducted this year with more than 32,000 people from all sectors combined, it appears that 38% do not feel “recognized or poorly recognized” in the context of their work.

People need to feel useful because they naturally want to understand why they do what they do and demonstrate their expertise. He likes to contribute to something and to realize the impact of his actions.

The tip for writing a prospecting email is not to turn it into a “commercial” email.

This email below had an average click rate of 80% and a 50% response rate.

Exemple email de Conseil
Example of a “Advice” Email

Once the ice is broken and your interlocutor is involved in your speech, it is possible for you to get to the “heart of the matter”:

If you start directly with your pitch, your email is very likely to end up in the trash in one click. 🗑

The smart thing about “advice emails” is that you continue to sell your offer indirectly, the whole thing is just much more subtle than in a classic “sales email”.

So take advantage of this approach to get a ton of valuable information about your market and lots of constructive feedback from your prospects in order to constantly improve your offer.

Read your emails out loud to improve them

I do that with every email I send. Reading aloud will help you improve your emails dramatically.

When reading aloud, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it clear and concise?
  • Is everything understandable?
  • Is it self-sufficient or does it require additional explanations?
  • What should be cut, shortened, or replaced?
  • What value am I communicating?
  • Is it clear what the next step is desired in this email?

If you don't have a good answer for these questions, you're not ready to hit send.

There are other things you can do if you want more training in this practice:

  • Read your email to someone else. Let a colleague or friend put themselves in the shoes of your prospect. Ask them to listen while you read your email aloud. When you're done, skip the questions above to see if they have any feedback. 9 times out of 10, you'll see that your email will likely need to be reworked.
  • Ask someone else to read the email to you. Focus on what he says and how he says it. Is he out of breath? Does it block on a particular word? Is the tone good? You can learn a lot about your emails just by listening to someone else read it to you.
  • Register and ask yourself if you are finally satisfied with your email. If you're recording a video, pay attention to your body language and facial expressions. Are you confused, bored, excited, curious, interested? These non-verbal reactions will indicate how you really feel about your writing.

Use your email signatures to sell

The signature is among the most valuable elements but still underused by most people. It is generally thought that it is of little use except to display contact information or proudly its title.

Let's take a “lambda” example:

Signature Email "Basique"
Simple Email Signature Example

So what do you think? ... It's boring isn't it? This signature does not bring anything to the recipients and does not reinforce credibility.

You have to sell in your signature! Do you create content or participate in events? So take the opportunity to put links to what is relevant for your prospects 📚

Example of content to highlight: Blog Articles, Webinar, Meetup, Salon, Podcast, Ebook, Books, Interviews, Press Excerpt, etc...

This is what a “selling” signature looks like:

signature emails avec Cal to Actions
Example Email Signature with Calls to Action

As you can see, a signature that “sells” takes very little time. All you need to do is update it periodically with your new news or content: you will see that it is possible to make a difference with your emails to successfully get your customers engaged in a unique way.

Use Post Scriptum (P.S)

The P.S. is another email tip that most people underestimate.

Not many people realize it, but The PS message is often the first (and sometimes the only) part of the email that your recipient will read : It's a great place to add something you want the recipient to read.

Take advantage of this tip to keep their attention so that they read the content of your emails that you maximize your chances of success.

Here are a few examples:

  • Some good news from your company: “P.S: We have just had our 5000th customer, here is an article about it...”
  • A personal link: “P.S. I think we have a common relationship, we've both worked with ABC and XYZ...”
  • Something you remember about them: “P.S. I remember you said you were passionate about Growth Hacking on Twitter, did you hear about this new hack on LinkedIn? ”

What's good about the P.S. In an email, it's its versatility.

It can be personal, useful, highlight your business - in short - it allows you to do, everything you might need to approach your customer.

With all of these options, it's not that hard to think of a small piece of information that will catch the recipient's attention.

Building an effective email strategy

When is the best time to send prospecting emails?

Whenever you read articles that give information about the “best time” to send emails, keep in mind that the data set they used to generate that information may differ from what is true for your prospects.

Often what is true for a population of prospects A is not true for another B.

Furthermore, these studies generally tend to focus on opening rate and No answer.

However, here is a study that we conducted to help you identify or give you ideas about the best times to send emails:

Meilleurs jours d'envoi des emails
Best days to send emails
Meilleurs moments d'envoi des emails
Best times to send emails

Again, these are general truths that prove to be correct for most businesses. The only way to really understand when you should send your emails is to experiment because this depends primarily on the behavior of your Prospects.

We've seen campaigns where the best time to send cold emails was a Friday afternoon or even Sunday... It all depends on your prospects!

How many prospecting emails should you send per day?

It is possible to create databases with several tens of thousands of prospects, but what matters most is the quality of your databases.

Assuming you can generate quality leads and have a solid sales process, sending between 10 and 100 emails per day will be a great start.

If you get a response rate of 10% - that is to say ten responses - this will give you time to optimize the processing of these leads and the format of each of your responses to obtain the best possible feedback.

You can then increase your sample size once:

  1. You will have found the email model that works with your audience
  2. Your response emails will be perfect and will give the result you expect

Yes, but how can you experiment and optimize your email campaigns when you're sending such a low volume? We are going to see that together in the rest of this article.

How do I track and relaunch emails sent to prospects?

  • How many times should you get your prospects to follow up with your mailings?
  • When should you do it?
  • When should you stop giving reminders?

Start with a high frequency and then decrease the frequency over time. Here is a general calendar for planning your reminders:

Rythme de vos relances emails après le 1er envoi
Pace of your emails after the first sending

Use marketing automation tools to create workflows that largely automate this for you, because once you have a high volume of prospects, you will need to industrialize this process to help you manage your follow-ups.

For example, you can create lists of prospects you haven't emailed in 14 days, and with whom you've had a phone conversation that lasted more than 4 minutes in the past 3 months.

These are not strict rules, they are guidelines. Of course, this depends on the context, the situation, the relationship and the interactions you have had with your customers.

For example, if you're following up with a very busy and important CEO of a large company, don't relaunch right away and adapt your business flow.

How do you react to the answers?

Once you get a response, how do you react? The most important thing here is to KEEP USING A SYSTEM!

Don't create random responses for every email, it will make you gain in effectiveness and relevance.

There's a limited number of answers you'll get anyway:

  • Positive (setting up call/video/physical meetings)
  • Not interested at all
  • Not interested right now
  • Send me more information
  • We are already working with another provider
  • I've forwarded your message to the right person in our organization, and he'll get back to you if he's interested
  • Absence notifications (which often contain contact details and their backups)

You need ready templates to save time on how you are going to respond to each of these types of messages.

It's necessary to measure the results you'll get from these models, and continuously modify and optimize to obtain the best results.

Tools exist to allow you to save email templates or pieces of text to save you more time:

Never forget that the best way to respond to positive responses from your prospects is often to pick up the phone and call right after their answers.

Some tips to improve the open rate

The “1, 2, 3” email

It's a very simple method that you can use to dramatically improve your response rates. I've seen cases where response rates increased from 7% to 39%, an increase of over 457%!

The concept is simple: present your prospect with three scenarios that are likely to apply to their situation based on the information you get about them. Ask them to choose which scenario applies to their situation. All they need to do is write the response by sending a number and click send. Simple as hello isn't it?

Here is an example:

This process gives the person clear, quick options with a simple Call to Action. All they need to do is choose the answer and click “Send.”

Strategy 1, 2, 3 is a great way to warm up your prospects with whom the situation is “cold”. Imagine that you sent one of your “standard” reminder emails that was unfortunately not successful. Try sending this type of email instead:

This version creates a different, even confusing, but incredibly effective tone. You will probably be surprised at how well this works.

If you have doubts about the feasibility of this type of email in your industry, never forget that the most important thing is experimentation. Approach marketing as a scientific process: you need to take an iterative approach and test, because what might work for another business, or for another segment of your customers, might not work for others.

The magic of strategy 1, 2, 3 is that the prospect can provide you with a lot of information by simply choosing a number.

Start by choosing one of your emails that has a really low response rate and test strategy 1, 2, 3 to compare the results.

How do you start this strategy from scratch? Follow these simple steps to use this hack:

  1. Choose a small list (100 prospects is more than enough) from your CRM.
  2. Define three relevant options.
  3. Create a list of resources to send after your prospects respond to your email.
  4. Set up a new email template with the same structure as the example.
  5. Send!
  6. That's all 🚀

The Breakup Email: A (final) attempt to get a response:

Disruptive emails are one of the most effective email marketing strategies to use when a prospect doesn't respond to you.

Writing an effective breakup email starts with writing an effective subject line. For the breakup email, here are a few examples of good subject lines:

  • Until next time [First name]
  • Thanks for [First name]
  • Should we continue or stop now
  • It's not you. It's us

Here is an example of a B2B breakup email:

When writing your breakup emails, be careful not to sound disappointed or almost accusing.

It is important that your email remains “emotionally” positive or even neutral. After all, you're not going through a breakup, it's all about work.

As a professional, you should not blame, criticize, or feel too emotional about this type of situation.

Breakup emails use the principle of loss aversion.

A bit of culture: This phenomenon has been demonstrated by two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Loss aversion can be summarised as follows: the cost of a loss is much greater than the pleasure of winning.

Mistakes to avoid in your emails

Provide in your email what you promise in your subject line. If the gap is too big, you're going to get good open rates, but not the answers you expected.

There are ways to improve your open rates by using certain “hacks” on your subject lines. Some may seem misleading but are very effective in improving open rates, here are a few examples:

  • Use of” Re:” or” Sort: ” in the subject line.

It allows you to give the impression that it is a transfer or a response to an email exchange. However, today this hack is used far too much by spammers (but worked very well before)

  • Using items like “Bad News” or “Silly Question”

They often get good open rates, but these types of tactics could backfire. Indeed, if the first impression you are giving is to “deceive” your prospects, ask yourself if this is the best way to build solid trust. It's a choice you need to make for yourself and your business.

How do you test and optimize your emails?

So take more time congratulating yourself on positive responses from your customers instead of wasting unnecessary energy on emails whose answers would not suit you.

Test, measure, optimize

When was the last time you took the time to really study the performance of your emails? 1 month ago? 3 months ago? Or maybe never?

Excellence is an art: you have to experiment, test and reiterate your techniques to achieve excellence.
Customer behavior is constantly evolving: you need to know how to reinvent yourself and challenge yourself every day.

A perfect process today will certainly not be perfect tomorrow That's why it's important to keep experimenting and discovering what your audience is responding to.

It's easy to get lazy while you're succeeding. But continued success is never guaranteed.

The best practices that I share with you in this article should only be a starting point for you (and the same is true for any type of advice you find).

It is your job to test, execute and adapt these tips in relation to your market and your feedback.

Some metrics to follow

  • What is your open rate? (You should expect at least a 35% open rate.)
  • What is your response rate? (You should expect a response rate of around 10%. (This includes positive, negative, and neutral responses)
  • What type of prospect (CEO, CTO, Project Manager, etc.) responds to your emails? Sometimes a response from a senior manager is worth more than five responses from a manager or project manager.
  • How do responses turn your contacts into qualified leads?
  • Don't include undelivered emails in your statistics! (If you send 300 emails and get 100 notifications of undelivered messages, use 200 for your calculations. For example, if 20 people respond, you would calculate that as a 10% response rate.)

A/B test your prospecting emails

Take a sample of the emails you send, and follow up with a phone call.

Your objective of this call is not to make a sale, but simply to Understand what worked and what didn't work in your emails. Take the time to gather this valuable information:

  • What did they like or dislike about your email?
  • Why did they open your email?
  • Did they understand what they should do as a result of your email?
  • Etc...

If you start with a sample of 50 emails per day, this is an opportunity to be very qualitative and to understand what emotion is driving the prospects who open your emails.

Perform segment testing

Test your models in small batches (around 100 recipients maximum) first to see how they work, then make changes as you measure the results.

You will then know what works and what does not work. Once your winning model is validated, you can increase the size of the list to generate more leads.

Here are 3 steps you can follow to guide you on your strategy:

Writing quality emails to targeted audiences

Objective: Don't end up in spam.

Make it out of gEnsure quality emails that meet the expectations of your audience both in the content but also in the way you send it.

Start by building a targeted list of prospects that includes key decision makers and players who occupy your market. To do this, you need to know who your target prospects are by defining your “buyer personas”.

There are lots of email templates you can use - but it's important to personalize each email and adapt it to the person you're sending it to so that your message doesn't feel industrialized. Decision makers are generally very busy people, who receive more than a hundred emails per day, so it is extremely important to stand out from the crowd and be impactful for your recipient.

Here is an example:

Perfect your message to include only the information you need. You only have very few words to get their attention — don't waste them.

Test different variants in the subject and content of your emails in order to keep only the simplest and most powerful version that brings the most results. An email must always be specific to a given audience, so you will only have the tests and its results to allow you to fully optimize your process.

As I was able to tell you before, even if you think your email is ideal, always take the time periodically to adopt new approaches and measure the results.

Segment your email prospecting into 3 groups

Send emails using tools that allow you to track open and response rates. You are on the right track if you can achieve an open rate of around 35% and a response rate of 10%. A response rate of less than 5% means that something in your strategy must be changed.

Use 3 segments as below:

Segments des emails en fonction des résultats
Email segments based on results

Each of these results tells us about how each segment reacted to your emails:

  • If they haven't been opened at all: your Item needs to be reworked
  • If they have been opened but you have not received a response: the content needs to be reworked
  • If you got a response but not the one expected: rework the content
  • Etc...

These signals allow you to experiment and test better results.

It will never be an exact science, but it can allow you to hypothesize in order to test new things and improve yourself.

Non-exhaustive list of emailing tools that you can use:

Follow-up with a call

By segmenting your audience via email, you can create “Test” groups that you can call to get more information.

If you use this phone call with all your authenticity, you will be assured of extremely valuable information that statistical analysis will have a hard time matching. Sure, some people might cut the call short or not answer at all, but those who do accept the conversation will be a big help.

Resist the urge to defend your product or your email, don't try to sell. Take the opportunity to learn more about what you do well and what you don't do well.

Once you start to identify winning models based on all the data collected, you can use them to improve your argument, the subject or the content of your emails.

To go further

Now that you know how to Boost your open rate, it is necessary to understand how to find and use emails but also to understand all the prerequisites for Boosting the open rate of your emails and to understand the more technical aspects that will help improve your chances of landing in the inbox.

profil auteur de stephen MESNILDREY
CEO & Founder

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