Monica Badiu, Email Copywriter & Copy Coach

Email is a great way to engage with clients, and you don’t need to be an expert marketer to get results. All you need is strategy, a customer avatar, and the right journey.

Figuring out your email marketing strategy is an art. And when you find the sweet spot, your email marketing is going to start delivering on traffic, qualified leads and revenue.

This post is for the business owner who is already using email marketing. With this post I aim to help you improve your email performance. These tactics will increase your open rates, which in return translate to a more engaged and happier audience, and an increase in sales. You will learn about personalization tactics, split testing and using your audience’s content consumption habits.

If you’re just starting and are wondering if email marketing could work for you, please read these articles first:

Before you jump to the fun part, here’s an important detail:

To know if you have a low open rate, you have to compare it against the benchmarks. These vary depending on your industry and country. In general, an average open rate for US senders across all industries is 17%.

Your email open rate is affected by different things. Deliverability, from name, time of day, and preheader text are all important—but no factor is quite as important as your subject line.


Here are 3 tactics to improve your email open rates right away:

1. Know your audience’s habits

There’s a lot to know about your audience and if you don’t have a customer avatar, that’s where you need to start. Knowing who you’re talking to is essential if you want your email marketing to actually deliver results.

Think about what your audience’s every day schedule is like. Are you addressing stay-at-home-moms with toddlers? If so, their daily routine is different than that of a student’s or a mom with kids in school. Moms with toddlers have a limited time window to spend on their phones (or laptops) vs a student who, with the exception of class hours, they would be on their phones or laptops all day long, and even more at night when they need to study for exams.

Think about whether your audience has an office job. If so, it’s likely that they would open their emails during office hours, and more from their desktop than a personal phone.

If your target audience is a business owner when would they have the time to check their inbox and welcome your message?

How about the day of the week? Weekends are usually spent outdoors or with family when it comes to employees. On the other hand, Sundays or Mondays are great to send emails to business owners because that’s when they’re the least busy.

Identify your audience’s demographics and age. Are they teenagers, adults, parents, retirees? This impacts their content consumption behavior.

If you’re struggling with this, you can look at two reports to figure out what are some of your audience’s habits around digital and email consumption.

  • Go to your email marketing software and look at the overall report for your campaigns by country and then region. That should show you where your audience is located in the world and you can use that report to decide on timing (West Coast vs East Coast)

  • Go to your Google Analytics, Acquisition report, and select Email channel and a one year time interval. Look at the days you’re seeing traffic from this channel.

If you still can’t make sense of when your audience likes to consume email content, then ask in a survey. Make it simple. If you’re using Typeform, you can embed the first question of the survey within the actual email. If you’re using Mailchimp, you can send a one-question survey, which could be as simple as: “When would you like to receive my newsletter?”

With that in mind, you can compare your current open rate with the benchmarks provided by CampaignMonitor, showing rates by day of the week and US industries.


2. The simplest hack to improve low open rates instantly

If tactic no.1 is a work-in-progress, this tactic can improve your open rates on the spot. According to Experian, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and Rich Relevance found that revenue is 5.7 times higher in emails that employ personalization.

Personalization is using a detail relevant to the recipient to draw their attention and make it look like that email was specifically sent to them. If you’re looking at increasing your open rates with this tactic, then you need a personalized subject line.

Here are a few examples of personalized subject lines

  • Your unrealistic expectations, NAME…

  • NAME, open this before midnight!

  • If you’re a OCCUPATION, this is for you

  • Make 2020 NAME your best year yet.

  • NAME you left something in your cart…

  • You’re this close to lose access, NAME.

  • NAME, your order is confirmed

  • NAME your PRODUCT is shipped

An email with a personalized subject line oftentimes includes the recipient’s name. But you can also use occupation, recent purchase (or abandoned purchase), or some other important detail that you know about your recipient.

These details are usually collected at sign-up, in a survey or through some interaction of that email subscriber with your CRM. It’s important to know that you can use these details within the preview text and the body of your emails.

This is an example of an email marketing strategy that is using short subject lines but uses long preview text that features personalization NAME

This is an example of an email marketing strategy that is using short subject lines but uses long preview text that features personalization NAME

This is an example of an email that is using NAME personalization tag in the email subject line and body

This is an example of an email that is using NAME personalization tag in the email subject line and body

To make use of them, you need to use tags. Almost all email marketing tools have this feature.

Mailchimp calls theirs “merge tags”. The information you collect through your Mailchimp signup form is saved in an audience field and tied to a unique label, called a merge tag. Use merge tags to insert personalized or dynamic content from your audience into the campaigns you send.

Active Campaign calls theirs “personalization tags”. Personalization tags can be used to insert dynamic content into campaigns and automation emails, site messages, SMS messages, form fields (custom contact fields only), “Thank you” messages for forms.

Campaign Monitor also calls them personalization tags, but their formatting is different than Active Campaign’s.

There’s so much more to personalization than what I just showed you right here. This is a tactic that can make a huge shift in your email marketing strategy if you combine it with surveys, research, a customer journey and segmentation.

Personalized emails are the first step to increasing your open rates. You can use your customer’s personal information, such as their name or location, in your subject line or email copy to increase engagement and get them hooked on what you have to say.

If this is a tactic that you’d like to know more of, book a discovery call and let’s see how this could fit into your influence growth formula.

3.A/B testing email subject lines

This tactic requires a bit more work, but most email marketing tools have improved their processes so this feature is more accessible even to those who are not marketers.

There are various ways of using this tactic to improve your email performance. The most common is to test subject lines against multiple different variants.

A subject line split test is simple: You send the same email to small portions of your list. Look to see which group opened your email more often, then send the winning subject line out to everyone.

Here are some variants you can use in an A/B test for email subject lines:

  • personalization vs no personalization

  • empty vs with an actual subject line (Sidekick found that emails with no subject line were opened 8% more than the rest)

  • urgency vs no urgency

  • short vs long

  • emoji vs no emoji

  • Sentence case vs. Title Case

  • CAPITALIZATION vs. no capitalization

  • Exclamation points !!! vs. no exclamation points



There is however an important detail to keep into account. The smaller the list size, the harder it is to perform an accurate email subject line split test. ConstantContact says that to achieve statistical significance, the recommended audience size for each subject line is at least 1,000 contacts. The smaller the list size, the more the certainty that the higher open rate for the winning subject line is due to the subject line is decreased.

Here are some of the questions you could get answers for by using split testing:

  • What day of the week gets better open rates?

  • Does a subject line with an incentive or a teaser work best?

  • Does including your company name in your subject line increase engagement?

  • Is it better to use your name as the from name, or your company’s name?

  • Does the time of day a campaign is sent affect the click rate?

  • Are recipients more likely to click a linked image or linked text?

  • Do recipients prefer a campaign that contains a GIF or one with static images?

Here you go: three powerful tactics that can increase your email open rates right away. I am curious to find out what you’re going to choose and how your tests are going to go. Ideally, you’d implement one tactic, then keep track of results for at least 3 to 4 campaigns, compare with previous results, then implement the second one. That way you will know how these change the performance of your email marketing.

Need help figuring out how email marketing fits into your strategy? Book a discovery call and let’s find out what’s in your influence growth formula.

About the Author

Monica Badiu is an email copywriter and copy coach. She specializes in sales copywriting for online course creators who want to send emails that speak to their ideal customer and generate conversions without using fearmongering or pressure. She’s made clients over $3 million in 2023.

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