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The Holy Trinity: How to Ensure that Your Emails are Opened


Mailigen email inbox preview

This year, the magic numbers are 22–23%! This is the average email open rate in email marketing. However, keep in mind that this also varies by industry. The great thing is that “average” is the midway between the best and the worst. If you want to be on the winning side, this post is for you!

I want to bring to your attention the three most important elements for an email to succeed at getting opened: the from line, the subject line and the first line of the email content—or, as we call it in the email marketing biz—the pre-header. This article looks at how you can improve these elements in order to achieve a better open rate.

Take a look at this iPhone email preview:

Mailigen Email Open Rate

Why mobile? Well, today half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, so you simply can’t afford to ignore them. Anyway, here you see the email “Holy Trinity” I am talking about: the first line shows you from whom you are getting this email; the second, what the email is about; and the third reveals the first few lines of the content you will find inside.

From Line – Recognizable & Personal

The from line is the most visible line in the preview, so it affects the open rate for sure. Here are some tips on how to get your from line in better shape.

  • Let’s start by making your email more personal. If you are not a well-known brand with lots of loyal clients—like, for instance, Apple or Toyota—you should stick to making an email personal: for example, addressing it from “John Doe” or “Jane Roe”. Studies have proven that emails which are seemingly sent from a real person get more opens. Why? Because people like to receive emails from other people—it’s natural!
  • Choose popular names. For example, let’s take a popular name in the United States—Jacob. There’s a bigger chance that your customer will open your email if it is sent from Jacob, if only because he/she might know a few Jacobs personally. However, even if your manager doesn’t have a popular name, there’s no need to worry—your email will still seem personal.
  • Forget about sending your email from support@domain.com or info@domain.com, because these addresses give the impression that they have been sent by a robot, and that their content is irrelevant and boring.

 P.S. Don’t use more than 13–15 symbols for the from line, so that it remains fully visible on mobile devices.

Subject Line – Compelling & Quickly Readable

These days, no one has any time to spare; therefore, its value has increased. You need to find a way to attract people’s attention, so they will spend their precious time on reading your email. Here are some tips for how you can make your subject line irresistible to your audience:

  • Start by making your subject line fast to read. You don’t want them to get stuck on some hard-to-read word when they scan their inbox, because then they may skip the email altogether and go on to the next one. Remember, you need your reader more than he/she needs you.
  • Don’t be afraid to use slang and to speak directly to your readers by using the word “you”. As I already noted, your readers are human, so make your emails to them human. Beware of using words like “free”, “% off”, “help”, “special”, “buy”, etc. They can harm your delivery rate and, besides, people these days don’t believe these kinds of words anymore; they automatically associate them with spending money.
  • Use pop-culture references, like phrases from well-known songs, movies or TV shows. For example, if your business is in any way related to winter, you could try using a phrase from the popular TV show Game of Thrones—“WINTER IS COMING!” If it’s a travel agency, you could, for example, use the popular Hans Christian Andersen quote, “To travel is to live!”

 P.S. Don’t use more than 20–25 symbols for the subject line, so it remains fully visible on mobile devices.

Pre-header – Encouraging to Read Further

If people are reading your pre-header, it is safe to assume that they are already interested in your email, thanks to the first two lines: the from and subject lines. Therefore, the best thing to do is to just start your email normally, so the pre-header will be the first lines of your email. Write your first email lines just like the intro text for any other article, but remember: keep it interesting and on point.

Often, people don’t really understand the importance of the pre-header and instead keep lines such as “Click here to view online” or “If you can’t see any images, please click here”. Take a look at this example:

Mailigen Email Open Rate 2

To avoid this, you can add pre-header text through the Drag and Drop editor (in the “Options” section), or you can add it manually into the code before the start of your email template, by adding text of the same color as the background.

You may notice that Gmail often puts “Click here to unsubscribe” at the top of emails, so it also shows in the pre-header. To fix this, you need to authenticate your campaign. If you use Mailigen mail marketing software, you can do this as part of the first step of a new campaign.

P.S. Don’t use more than 45–50 symbols for the pre-header, so it remains fully visible on mobile devices.

5 Takeaways to Start with

Here are five takeaways you should start with to increase your email open rate:

  • Make your email personal and try to use popular person names in the from line.
  • Make it human.
  • Make it more attractive by using pop-culture references.
  • Make it fast to read.
  • Avoid phrases like “View online” in the pre-header.

 Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below. Remember, if you want to try out these tips, feel free to use Mailigen’s A/B split test feature for your campaigns and get the maximum results from your emails.

The Holy Trinity: How to Ensure that Your Emails are Opened
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