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Are you getting 65% of unique opens in your email sends?

e-mailXmarketingXtips [1]That’s no typo! One of our clients achieved a stunning 65% average email open rate! And that’s unique opens we’re talking about (instead of the usual misleading total opens).

Who’s the chap?

Meet Caio Henrique Teodoro, a young Brazilian fellow who put together PromoB [2], a plain no-frills site offering a series of hands-on courses on 3D architectural rendering. Visitors simply pick their desired course and enroll using an E-goi form [3] built into a WordPress plugin. E-goi will then dole out a series of daily emails for each class in the course, as well as a couple bonus hints and tips from Caio himself.

So far so good. Nothing too fancy, it’s just a standard autoresponder sequence [4]. As all sign-ups are double opt-in, good open rates in the first few emails are virtually guaranteed, but Caio was really keen on increasing engagement over the course’s follow-up series (which usually tends to wane). This is where it gets interesting.

So what did he do?

Instead of whipping up his follow-up series and just leaving it at that, Caio took it upon himself to keep a close eye on how each follow-up performed every day, so he could finetune them on the fly. After 6 months of tests and more than 15,000 emails sent, these are his top takeaways:

1) Most engaging subject lines (over 60% unique opens):

2) Nr of follow-up emails required for his subscribers’ engagement to peak: 5

3) Unique clickthrough rate required to sustain such a high open rate: 60% or more (Caio averaged a 72% unique clickthrough rate, a clear, unequivocal indication that his emails connected with his audience)

Did he do anything else?

Yep. Caio cooked up another way to keep his subscribers engaged. He would send an email with highly relevant, impulse-clicking contents first thing in the morning and re-send it the next day only to those folks who hand’t opened it the previous day. He’d then do the same on the 3rd day but only for those non-openers from the 2nd day. Rinse and repeat for the next few days. The masterstroke here is making the re-send look like a personal reminder by adding “Re:” or “Fwd:” to the subject line and quoting the original email below Caio’s follow-up text (he went with “Hi again, did you have a chance to check out my email below?”). It’s particularly effective to drive opens from folks who have tons of messages to sift through. The cherry on top? E-goi can create and send this auto-reminder for you [5].

Which subject lines fared the worst though?

“Hi, check out this hot tip”, “Don’t miss out on this class from a top expert”, “Awesome flash sale” and “How to use software X”. They averaged 30% or less (still nothing to shake a stick at).

Hmm, these subject lines (including those who performed the best) sound a bit sketchy. Should I use them?

Subject lines which go right for the jugular are always a touchy matter. When is pushy too pushy? That’s why you really need to make sure that the contents of your emails follows up properly and honestly on a killer subject line – drive masses of subscribers to open your email because you said “I need to apologise” and you better be pretty damn sure to have a bullet-proof reason for having done so. Honesty is absolutely key here. The more you talk openly and frankly with your audience, the more you’ll earn their trust and engagement. Fail to do so and you’ll get yourself in a big heap of trouble [6].

How should I go about improving my response rates then?

Test, measure, repeat! Set up slightly different follow-up series (focus on subject lines, contents and sequence order), use segments and tags [7] to sort your subscribers into small groups (about 50 people) and kick off each follow-up separately so you can easily compare them against each other. You can either do it manually or use our automated A/B split testing [8].

And even when you get to reach a 65% open rate (woohoo, congrats! :), keep monitoring your sends daily and always be on the lookout for any wrinkles to iron out. Remember, there’s always room for improvement!