How to Get THE MOST from Your Email List — Doubling Your Email Marketing Open Rate–#1 in Series on List Building

I was helping a coach with his email marketing list and discovered that there were a couple of areas in his email marketing that, even though he was already getting a decent email open rate that there was an opportunity to  double his open rate.

I’m sure you’ve heard “the money’s in the list” and it is. It’s just that most business people tinker with building a list and then don’t optimize the email response rates, and they don’t spend time developing a relationship with those on that list.

Email Marketing Open Rates

What is a typical  open rate for email marketing?

If you ask anyone, don’t let them tell you “it depends.” That just means that they don’t know, and, as far as they have been concerned, they are looking at too many variables, and probably the wrong ones.

Yes, it will vary somewhat from industry to industry, and from person to person.  It will also depend on whether you are sending the email to your opt-in list, or whether you are attempting to send cold emails to people that don’t know you. But when sending to an opt-in list many of the top internet marketers are getting somewhere around 30% to 40% open rates. 

When sending to a list that doesn’t know you, and hasn’t chosen to get your emails it’s likely to be less than 5%, maye even less than 1%. 

What Controls Your Open Rate?

Your title has the most impact on the open rate. If your title has something of interest to the reader it’s more likely to get opened. Sounds like a simple concept, however, most emails aren’t talking about what the reader wants to read.

Most emails are talking about what the email marketer wanted to sell, or about the email marketer himself. NONE of that will get open rates more than around 0.1%-0.5% maximum.

In marketing, the first, and most important thing is “GET ATTENTION.” If the title doesn’t get attention, and then doesn’t show the VALUE that someone would get from opening the email, then it’ll never get opened.

Take a look at the ebook “30 Seconds to Prospects CHASING You” to develop a marketing message, and marketing headline that GRABS readers attention. That’s how you get the 30% to 40% open rates.

You can get a copy at

Other things that have an impact on the open rate are who is sending it, do they know that person or company. Few people will open an email from someone they don’t know . . . to much spam . . . and too many viruses floating around.

However, even if they don’t know you, sometimes that attention getting title will get them to open the email.

And finally, WHO it was sent to has an impact. I won’t open an email that wasn’t addressed to ME personally. If I get an email to a list of people it’s not likely to get opened. Or if it’s to some strange name, or topic, or outcome. I just won’t open it. When it’s not addressed to me it’s an unsolicited email, and very likely spam.

To get the highest open rate possible:

  • Attention getting subject line — something I’m interested in, my pain, a solution, and the value of that solution.
  • From someone, or some group I know, and have opted into, or a personal email (business associate, client, someone I know)
  • To ME . . . nothing else will get past

That’s how you get into the 30% to 40%.

How to Double That Email Marketing Open Rate

I was working with Jim, a client, about 3 weeks ago to optimize the results from his email marketing list. Jim said he was already getting just over 30% open rate so he didn’t think it was possible to do much better.

Well, we proved him wrong.  We more than doubled his open rate. Here’s how.

Let’s assume that you have a list of 1,000 people. 40% open rate means that you get about 400 people opening that email.

That leaves 600 people that didn’t open the email. So, I suggested to Jim that we send the same email again, but only to the 600 who didn’t open the email the first time.

Jim was hesitant. He thought that we’d irritate people by sending the email to them another time. He was afraid that his unsubscribes would go up if he hit them more than once.

I told Jim that he was looking at this wrong. He was assuming the worst case rather than looking at the positive side. I asked him, “Do you provide something of value?”

He said yes.

You see, he was assuming that people didn’t open the email because it was an interruption, something that was undesirable, or at least not way up on their priority list when it comes it. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that another email might annoy them.

However, it’s much more likely that since these people actually chose to receive your emails because they saw something that could help them through their worst nightmares, that they actually WANT to see them when they come in. Therefore, another way of looking at this is that they just plain didn’t see it. It might have gone into their spam filters, or just plain overlooked it among the dozens of junk emails that day, or they were just plain too busy and didn’t see it.

When you look at something as a negative, you are limiting yourself rather than looking for ways to making it even better.

I assume that people actually WANT my emails because it offers help them desparately need. So, those that don’t open the email might have missed out and would appreciate a reminder, a second, or even a third email so that they have the opportunity to benefit from what I have to offer.

But, yes, there will always be some on that list that are truly annoyed by a second one. But, do you know what? They were on their way to unsubscribing anyway. If I send another and they unsubscribe, or opt out, all I did was clean up my list. The ones are left truly WANT what I have. My list is now much more effective and will have an even higher open rate the next time.

So, on Aweber, Jim’s autoresponder, he can identify who opened the last emails and who didn’t. He send the exact same email a second time, but to the 600 who didn’t open it the first time.

The result: he got another 40% open rate, approximately 240. He’s now at 400+240=640 or 64% overall cumulative open rate out of 1,000. He did have 1 unsubscribe. Good for him, he eliminated someone who wasn’t interested. 

So, we did it again. There are still 260 people on the list who have not opened it yet. Sending it a third time, and got about a 30% open rate, or 78 people. Now he has a total of 400+240+78=  718, or 72% cumulative open rate. And one more unsubscribe. He lost a total of 2 from unsubscribes, but added 318 more people than he had before when he was hesitant to send out more emails.

He’s not quite at a double of his original open rate.

And with nearly 2 times as many people opening it, that will carry through to almost doubling the sales he gets from this email. 

In the next blog post we’ll talk about how to increase your email click through rates by as much as 40 times. Look for that next article in this series on email marketing list building.

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