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Email can be among the most powerful tools in any marketer’s playbook. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to use it effectively. This is especially true when it comes to the advertising and marketing industry, which experiences the lowest open rate of all. The following best practices are designed to change that!

Here are 15 tips you can use to boost your open rates, whether you sell agency services, sprockets, or grumpy cat posters.

1. Start the relationship off right

First impressions are important, so make the most of yours. When a prospect or client opts-in, send them a well thought out welcome letter. Be sure to provide them with any tools and resources they might find of value.

2. Be consistent in your mailings

Consistency is critical to the success of your entire email marketing efforts, but it’s especially vital to improving open rates. Users are more likely to open an email they’re expecting. So, create an email calendar and stick to it.

3. Segment your audience

List segmentation is a great tool you can use to provide more relevant content to your customers and prospects. Consider sorting your audience by lifecycle stages, interests, and other key characteristics.

4. Let the data be your guide

Track important metrics such as spam reports, open rates, bounces (both hard and soft), and click-through rates. Of course, it’s not enough to just record the data – you then have to ACT on it. Know what the metrics mean and create your to-do list about how specifically you’re going to improve upon each metric.

5. Keep your list up-to-date

Keeping your email list up-to-date is critical, so don’t be afraid to remove contacts who have low levels of engagement. Additionally, if a prospect converts to a client or customer, be sure their data is updated and that they are placed in the appropriate list.

6. Conduct A/B tests frequently

To see what works best for your customers and prospects, conduct A/B tests frequently! Try out different subject lines, preview text, sender names, and more. Just be certain to test only one variable at a time.

7. Timing is critical

When you send an email can be just as important as what it contains. The more you can customize this, the better. There are a number of great services out there that optimize delivery times based on an individual’s unique open behavior. If you’re on HubSpot or Marketo, you should check out Seventh Sense.

8. Avoid becoming SPAM

Everyone hates SPAM and having your emails identified as such can have a significant impact on your email marketing strategy. To avoid this, practice the following habits:

  • Never email anyone who didn’t actively opt-in
  • Don’t bombard users with offers
  • Don’t overuse spammy words like FREE and WIN
  • Encourage user action

9. Be mobile-minded

More people are checking their email on their phones than ever before, and it’s crucial you keep this in mind when creating your emails. If a user has difficulty viewing your email on their mobile device once, they are less likely to open future emails.

10. Create a short and catchy subject line

Keep in mind that you’re writing a subject line and not a Lord of the Rings novel. Create short and catchy subject lines that compel the reader to open your emails.

11. Ask recipients a question

Boost open rates by asking your recipients a question and encouraging feedback. This is a great way to also improve email response rates.

12. Use numbers in your subject line

Numbers are a lot like letters, only cooler! Some studies suggest that adding a pertinent statistic to your subject line can improve open rates by more than 200%.

13. Use personalization tokens

Is there any sound sweeter than a person’s own name? Science says no. So, be sure to use personalization tokens to customize your subject line. These can include the recipient’s first name, company name, or any other field your email service offers.

14. Use emojis (but do so carefully)

Turn that 🙁into a 😄 by including emojis in your subject line. This simple trick can boost open rates by more than 50%. Just don’t overdo it, or you could run the risk of looking like a real 🤡.

15. Offer real value

The most significant way you can improve open rates is by offering REAL VALUE to your customers and prospects. People do not want to be sold. They want to be helped. When you make their lives easier, everyone wins.