8 simple tips to increase your email open rates

The Goodness Squad Podcast Episode #50

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Show Notes:

Your email subject lines are like a poorly frosted cake. It might taste delicious on the inside, but it sure doesn’t look very appealing. This episode will help you create subject lines that will get people to open your emails. And, there might just be a special bonus for you.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Misty’s Templates
Subject Line Blueprint
Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule

women opening a gift

Your subject line must tell your people what problem that email will solve for them.


This is episode #50 of The Goodness Squad Podcast. I am thrilled to have recorded 50 episodes for you. I am grateful for your support of this podcast. It thrills me that it is growing, that you are learning, and that we are all changing and growing together.


What does cake have to do with email marketing?


So what are we talking about today?  Well, I want you to picture two different cakes. One is beautiful. It is gorgeous. It looks delicious. It smells good. And you can barely keep your hands off of it. 


The other one doesn’t look quite so good. It didn’t come out of the pan very well. It’s all crumbly. The frosting is kind of just there and not really spread nicely because whoever made it tried to frost it while it was still warm and it just doesn’t look good.


Both of these cakes have a problem though. The first one, it looks great on the outside, but once you cut it open it’s disgusting. They forgot to add any sugar and it just doesn’t taste good. But the second cake, you’re hesitant to want to try it because it’s just not enticing. It does not look good.


Today we’re going to be fixing the problem with the second cake. It tastes good, but it does not look good on the outside and people don’t want to give it a try.


In today’s podcast episode, we are going to be talking about your email subject lines. It does not matter how good your cake tastes or how good your emails are if no one tastes them; if no one opens them.


I am going to help you increase your email open rate and get more eyes on the emails you’re writing by improving your email open rates. 


8 tips that will help increase your email open rates


Number one

Most importantly, your subject line must tell your people what problem that email will solve for them. People spend time and money when you solve a problem for them.


If I were to send this podcast episode out as an email, and I titled it “8 simple tips to increase your email open rates,” that is telling you exactly what problem I’m solving. I am helping you get more emails opened. It is very, very clearly telling you what problem will be solved if you open this email.


Every email subject line you write needs to accomplish that. It needs to tell them how they are going to benefit from reading this email. How is this email going to make their life better? What problem is it going to solve for them?


Number two

Clear is always better than clever. We often want to be clever and fun, and there is a time and place for that. You can be a little bit more clever in your product names. You can be a little bit more clever in your email copy, the actual body of your email.


But in your email heading, you need to be extremely clear. People scan through their email lists and if they are not immediately sure what your email is about, they are far more likely to skip over it. So always, always, always choose clear over clever inside of your email subject lines.


Number three

As often as possible, use the words you, your, I, and we. You want to be seen as a person and not as a business entity or company.


For example, this podcast is titled “8 tips to increase your email open rates.” It’s not titled “8 tips to increase email open rates.” The word your is there on purpose. Your open rates will increase if you sound like you are a human being who is speaking to another human being. Use the words we, you, your, and I as often as possible. 


Number four

There are certain types of subject lines that tend to do well more often than others. These are how to and list subject lines. So the title of this podcast is a list, “8 tips to increase your email open rates.” But I could have changed it to a how to, “how to increase your email open rates.” Both subject lines would probably have done very well.


This is not a hard and fast rule. There are other types of subject lines that will do very well. And you will find them inside of the Subject Line Blueprint, which you can get at TheGoodnessSquad.com/subjectlineblueprint. If you are really struggling to come up with a great subject line, your default should be a how to or a list.


Number five

Avoid all capitals and too much punctuation in your subject line title. You should avoid these things in the body of your email as well. Stay clear of lots of caps, lots of exclamation points, question marks. Exclamation points and question marks scream spam, both to spam filters and to human beings. Skip them. Stick with clarity.


You can use an occasional exclamation point at the end of the subject line, or even better, a question mark. Questions can be another great subject line, but skip overdoing it, use them sparingly so that they have the effect that you want them to have.


Number six

Keep your subject lines on the shorter side whenever possible. The reason for this is because the majority of your people are going to be checking their email on their phone and depending on their settings, your entire subject line may or may not show. So keep it on the shorter side whenever possible. 


Number seven

Use my very favorite tool. This tool is my secret weapon for creating email subject lines, blog post titles, and podcast episode titles that really work. It’s called the Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule. They have actually just recently upgraded this to the Headline Studio.


The Headline Analyzer is completely free. And if you go there, you’re going to see an advertisement for the Headline Studio. The Headline Studio has a free version, but it also has a lot of extra paid tools.


For years, I have used the Headline Analyzer. When I started using this for my email subject lines, my open rates went crazy. They nearly doubled just from that one change. This tool will make a significant difference in your open rates.


When you use the Headline Analyzer, you will simply:

  1. Type in a subject line or a headline that you want to use for a blog post or for an email subject line.
  2. Then you’ll hit analyze, and it is going to give you a score. My goal is to get my score above 70. There’s a score from 0-100, and I want my headlines to be above 70. It will give you some very big tips on what you can do to increase your score. You can shorten it or lengthen it. You can change the type of subject line, like from list to how to, or other things like that. You can make it more emotionally charged. You can increase the power words that are in it. I’ll play around with those suggestions until I can get my score up to 70.


I went to the Headline Analyzer recently to create the titles for these podcast episodes and I realized they now have something called the Headline Studio. This is like an upgraded version of the Headline Analyzer.  You can use the headline studio for free, but there will be limited access to some of the fancier tools.


The paid version of the Headline Studio is fantastic. I’m not an affiliate for them or anything, but it makes tweaking your subject lines and your headlines much simpler because it gives you suggestions for different words you can use, structure changes you can make. It tells you how well your subject line stacks up against similar subject lines that your competitors might be using. It really is a great tool.


Now that doesn’t mean you have to pay for it. I used the free one for years it was like a miracle worker. It helped so much to really nail my subject lines and my blog post titles.  You can get a lot out of the free version, but I wanted to let you know,  just to be upfront and transparent that there is a paid version attached to this tool now because there didn’t use to be. 


Number eight

This one is probably my favorite. It’s not necessarily the most important, number one was the most important. This one is my favorite because it’s something that most of us don’t think about. If you are looking at a list of emails, whether it’s on your phone or your desktop or your computer, you’re going to see the subject line and then you’re going to see the first few words or even sentences of the email.


Now, this depends on your settings. You can go on your iPhone and determine how many lines you want to show. I have it set to show three lines. This will depend somewhat on the settings that people have inside of their phones or on their computers.


Most people are going to see at least the first few words or even the first few sentences of your email. So before they open it, that sentence is going to help them determine whether or not they want to open your email just as much as the email subject line is.


You really have two chances here. Nail your subject line first because that is something that everybody will see, but a lot of people are going to see the first sentence of your email. If it says, “Hey, Misty, I hope you’re having a great day,” it’s not going to be nearly as compelling as something like “get more eyes on your emails.”


So if I were to do this with this podcast episode, the subject line could be “8 simple tips to increase your email open rates” and “get more eyes on your emails” would be the first line of my email.


Now you might be thinking, “but Misty that’s silly, I don’t want that to be the first line of my email. I do want the first line of my email to be some sort of a greeting.” I get it. Most email platforms have something called a pre-header.


You can type that in and whatever you type in the pre-header, that is what’s going to show up in the preview as the first line of your email. But when they actually open your email, they’re not going to see that pre-header anywhere. So essentially it’s just giving you an extra opportunity to add a little bit to what people see before they open your email.


With ConvertKit, it’s a little bit more complicated. You do have to be able to enter a little bit of code into your email in order to get that pre-header to work. Inside of the Subject Line Blueprint, (which you can find at TheGoodnessSquad.com/subjectlineblueprint) I have screenshots of exactly how to do this in 3 different email providers. I have the code for you, and I show you exactly where to put that code inside of ConvertKit.


One other option, if the code really does just kind of scare you and overwhelm you, is to white write that line. So in my case, it would be “get more eyes on your emails.” So to write that line at the very top of your email and then to change the color to white, or just change the text so that it’s really small and it’s not distracting to anybody.


Then it still shows up as the first line of your email when people are previewing it in their list. But when they actually open the email, it’ll either be white and not seen at all, or it’ll be really small and not distracting. And you can go ahead and start your actual email with a more appropriate greeting.


A quick recap


The eight tips are:

  1. Tell people what problem you’re going to solve in your subject line.
  2. Clear is always better than clever.
  3. Use the words you, your, I and we – especially you and your.
  4. Lists and How-tos are almost always a good option for email subject lines.
  5. Avoid caps and too much punctuation.
  6. Keep your email subject line short because people are often going to be scanning them.
  7. Use the headline analyzer or the headline studio by CoSchedule.
  8. Make sure you pay attention to your pre-header as well as your subject line.


I would love to know which of those tips is your most favorite. You can send me a DM on Facebook. You can send me a DM on Instagram. You can reply to an email or you can leave a review about this particular episode and tell me which one was your favorite tip.


Coming Up


In episode #51 of The Goodness Squad podcast, we are going to be talking about the very first email you send your people. There is so much you can do inside this one email to build a foundation for a relationship with the person that just joined your email list. We’re going to dive deep into exactly how to do that in the next episode.


Thank you again for being a part of The Goodness Squad community. I am grateful for you. I know that you are busy and that spending time with me here at The Goodness Squad podcast is not just a given. I want you to know I’m grateful that you choose to be here with me and choose to be a part of this community. 

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