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5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Email Response and Success Rates

Written by Lucy Jones

Apr 17 2017


What causes poor email success rates, and what can you do to improve results?

Improving Email Success

You know that email marketing is an important component of your marketing strategies. When properly implemented, email can be used to open dialogue, develop business relationships, and nurture potential clients.

But emails don’t always go to plan. Picture the scene:

You’ve got a good piece of information or content that you want to share with your contacts. So, you draft a great email to promote it. You proof your message, check everything’s in place, hit ‘send’ and sit back; ready for a wave of responses to follow up on. But when you look at your stats, you see some poor results. Poor open rates, few clicks, high bounces, unsubscribes - where did you go wrong??

This is likely something you’ve experienced. So what did go wrong? And how can you boost your email success rates?


5 Tips To Boost Email Response and Success Rates

How many emails do you get a day? How many active email addresses do you use?

At this moment in time, I personally have 7 separate email accounts synced to my iPhone - meaning I’ll get a minimum of c.70 messages over the course of a day (and that’s on a good day!).


That’s a lot of information. If you want your own email marketing to compete with that message volume, your emails must be of interest to me in the moment, be relevant, and offer clarity and value to stand out. There are a few key ways to do that:

1. Review your subject lines

The subject line of your email is the first piece of content that your reader will see, appearing in the ‘subject’ column of their email preview. Think of this sentence as the opening of a novel - it needs to grab attention, pull the reader in and promise a great story to come. Good subject line tips are to:

  • Keep it short (around 30-50 characters). Going back to my iPhone inbox - remember that on mobile, only about 30 characters appear.
  • Be accurate and don’t mislead. If you promised me a certain piece of content, don’t waste my time. I expect to see it, or I might unsubscribe.
  • Grab attention. What does your reader want to see from you? Statistics? A relevant question (such as “Want to understand ABM?”)? Will putting key words in [square brackets] help? Is it appropriate to use emoji?
  • Test. To really know what works for your readers, test different headings to see which ones resonate.
  • Be aware of spam filters. Words like ‘win’ and ‘free’ in subject headers are often indicators of a less-than-quality message. Avoid them if you want your message to be seen!


Related: Why people unsubscribe from emails

2. Consider your message format

When I finally decide to get rid of that little red email notification that tells me I have 70 messages, the last thing I want to do is read 70 essays. I want clear messages that are easy to digest and reply to.

Your audience are likely the same; so make your email formatting clear, simple and eye-catching:

  • Use a clear email template, consistent with your branding. Readers should instantly be able to recognise your messages
  • Present information in easily digestible, bite-size pieces (bullet points and clear headings are your friends)
  • If you can say it in a few sentences, do
  • Keep any paragraphs short and simple
  • Stick to one message/ piece of information per email
  • Include a clear CTA
  • Include images and gifs (where appropriate) to maintain attention

3. Personalise your content

79% of marketers deem email content and design as both the most critical and most effective aspects of an email. - Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing Report

How many of my 70 daily emails do you think are actually relevant to me?

The answer is - not many. Often based on the subject line alone, I know that the content of the message I’ve received is not of interest; likely because that email doesn’t match any of my motives, isn’t offering unique value to me, or is a promotion I don’t care about.

For the messages I do open, personalisation, relevance and intrigue into the content are what caused that click.


Related: Lead nurture email best practices

The content here is paramount. For best response, the content of your emails should be personalised to appeal to the context and motives of your reader. Note that personalisation here means more than just adding ‘Hi [Name]!’ to the start of your subject header and message. It means appealing to the context and motives of your reader by ensuring your email content offers personalised value.

If you haven’t done already, segmenting your email database will help your hone your targeting; to make sure you send the right content to the right people.

4. Keep your email campaigns focussed

If your emails are part of a nurture workflow, make sure each message follows a course that your readers expect. If you’ve started with an offer based around account-based marketing for example, don’t jump suddenly into sharing content about web design (unless you’ve uncovered that that’s what your contact is interested in). Using an automated marketing platform to deliver email workflows can help you plot your workflows and ensure consistency for better engagement.

5. Don’t be afraid to test

Looking at what’s not working in your emails, then adjusting and testing to improve, is the best way to develop a process and style that works. Poor results can be just as valuable as good ones!

So don’t be afraid to tweak your emails and test different aspects (typically changing one thing at a time, such as copy, content, timings, design etc) to see what works.

Typical emails stats you should be using to monitor success (and decide what to test) include:

  • Delivery rate (how many messages were delivered? How many bounced?)
  • Open rate (number of emails opened)
  • Click rate (who clicked on links in your email?)
  • Contacts lost (and why - did they unsubscribe, mark you as spam or hard-bounce?)

Stand Out To See Results

If your emails are well considered, easy to digest, and align with what your contacts want to receive, then you may have a chance of standing out from the volume of messages that your contacts see every day.

To build positive, trusted relationships, it’s important to remember you’re one message in a busy inbox. Offer unique value, intrigue and consistent quality content to stand out - and you should see better responses and stay out of the ‘deleted’ mailbox!

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