How to Write Emails Your Subscribers Can’t Wait to Open

email

The job of a marketer isn’t easy.

You need to create great content, promote it, and then convert your hard-earned traffic into email subscribers.

Because email is 40 times more effective than social media in customer acquisition, it can’t be ignored.

But your work doesn’t stop there either. You need to cultivate a relationship with your subscribers if you want them to ever buy from you.

In order to do that, you need your subscribers to not just tolerate your emails but to actually get excited about the next email you send them.

The average email open rate depends on the industry, but typically it ranges from 15-25%. That’s not terrible, but it certainly isn’t good.

Download this 8 steps cheat sheet to learn how to write emails your subscribers can’t wait to open.

Would you be happy if only 1 out of 4-6 people who asked for emails from you actually opened them? And that’s just opening, not clicking through or replying.

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I hope you said you wouldn’t be happy with the 15-25% open rate. Indeed, you can do much better if you avoid the mistakes most other businesses make.

If the average business has an ROI of 4,300% from email marketing with those kinds of open rates, imagine what you could do if 50-60% of your list opened and interacted with your emails.

In this post, I will show you how to achieve those results. 

Set the stage: after the signup

You’ve convinced a reader to sign up for your email list—great.

To do so, you had to offer them something. Whether it’s just regular content updates or a free lead magnet, there’s something that your new subscriber wants.

There is no excuse in this day and age not to deliver any lead magnet within minutes of receiving a new subscription. Every major email marketing platform has some sort of an autoresponder you can use to deliver your offering automatically.

This is simple, but crucial. People have short memories.

For a loyal reader who just got around to subscribing, it’s not such a big deal. But when it comes to most subscribers, who don’t know you very well, it can be the difference between starting a great relationship and being put in the spam box.

Think about the time when you signed up for a free bonus from someone you didn’t know very well. If they sent your freebie to your email box immediately, you knew who sent it and why you received it—after all, you asked for it.

But if it’s sent to you a day later, or even a few hours later, all of a sudden, you’re thinking: “Who on earth is Neil Patel?”

The average person is very protective of their inbox, as they should be. So when they get an email from someone they don’t know, they are cautious. Sure, some don’t mind, but some get annoyed, weirded out, or even angry.

So, deliver on whatever you promised right away. Simple.

But that brings me to the next important thing you need to do right after your website visitors sign up—while you are still fresh in their minds: set clear expectations.

The first follow-up email gets the highest open rate, often 70% or higher. This is way higher than the overall average open rate. What you say in this email can either help you sustain high open rates in future emails or scare off subscribers.

So, what should you say? It depends on how your visitors signed up.

If they signed up to an offer that simply said “send me lessons,” it’s pretty safe to assume they know who you are and expect occasional emails from you.

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In this case, it’s less about what you will be sending (lessons and updates) and who you are and more about the frequency of your communication.

However, if your new subscriber signed up because they want a free report or a course, they may not realize that they just joined your mailing list.

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Brian Casel offers a course for freelancers who want to “productize” their services. When you opt in for this email course, you receive an email that begins like this:

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Brian does a few important things here:

  • introduces himself so you won’t forget him
  • includes a headshot
  • introduces his product without being overly pushy
  • establishes expectations by saying this is the first in a series of email lessons

Most importantly, he knows that almost all of his new subscribers will read this because it’s at the very top of the first email he sends. Then, he delivers what he promised.

I showed you the opt-in for Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks above. If you use a one-time download as a lead magnet, I want to highlight something he does that you should also think about doing.

At the bottom of every email, he includes the following blurb under the “PS”:

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This is a simple reminder of what you signed up for.

On many occasions, a new subscriber will download your lead magnet, enjoy it, but then forget who you are within a day or so. Then they get an email from you a few days later and get angry when they feel they don’t know who you are. This leads to unsubscribes, being marked as spam, and the occasional “I NEVER SIGNED UP FOR THIS!” email reply.

Including this short snippet at the bottom of an email will eliminate almost all of those complaints and calm down anyone who’s angry.

Let’s go through the steps of crafting emails your subscribers will enjoy receiving.

Step 1: Start with an enticing subject line

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to start working on crafting future emails that your subscribers can’t help but open.

It always starts with writing a great subject line.

The subject line should be written a lot like the headline of a blog post although you have a little more freedom with it.

Subject line tactic #1: Use numbers

If you’ve followed me on either the Quick Sprout blog or the NeilPatel.com blog for some length of time, you’d know that I love numbers in headlines. I especially love writing list posts.

Numbers are specific, easy to read, and intriguing. Even The New Yorker recognizes the power of numbers:

“Whenever we’re scanning the environment for nothing in particular, our visual system is arrested by the things that don’t fit—features that suddenly change or somehow stand out from the background. A headline that is graphically salient in some way has a greater chance of capturing our eye, and in an environment where dozens of headlines and stories vie for attention, numerals break up the visual field.”

Adding numbers to subject lines is one of the most effective ways to increase your open rate:

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Subject line tactic #2: Induce curiosity

Curiosity is powerful. When we want to know the answer to something, it gnaws away at us until we find it.

It takes practice to write a headline that induces curiosity, but it works well when done right:

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The key is to be specific about an event or result but be vague about what led to it. Naturally, your readers will want to know how you produced that intriguing event or result.

For example, if I sent an email with the subject line This one tactic led to 60,000 visitors in 2 months on a new blog…, you’re going to open the email to find out what “This one tactic” was.

It’s the exact same principle behind all those “one weird trick” ads:

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Subject line tactic #3: Keep it short

Informz found that shorter subject lines generally beat longer headlines. This doesn’t mean that short subject lines are always better than long ones—they aren’t. But in general, short ones are better because:

  • the whole subject line can be read (without being cut off)
  • short subject lines typically induce more curiosity
  • they force you to be clear (readers won’t open ambiguous headlines)

Subject line tactic #4: Test different subject lines

Everyone should test different subject lines, even the President of the United States…oh wait, he did.

Leading up to the last election, the Obama campaign team split-tested several headlines to see how much money they would raise. The results were incredible. The top result was projected to raise $2,540,866, while the bottom result would have raised only $403,603…a 629% difference.

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One way to split-test subject lines is to simply send emails with different subject lines to small groups of your list and then send the winning subject to your full list.

Alternatively, many email marketing providers have a split testing function built-in.

If you use Aweber, go to create a broadcast like you normally would (in the “Messages > Broadcasts” menu option), but click “Create a Split Test” below the big green button.

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You can then choose how many variations you’d like to create.

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Then you can choose to what percentage of your list you’d like to send each variation. It must add up to 100%, so an even split is usually best:

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Once you save the split test, go back to your broadcast messages page. You’ll now see two (or however many variations you chose) drafts. Then you just have to edit each email individually with your subject lines and message.

Step 2: It’s all about value

Think about why new subscribers open that first email: it’s to get something.

At this point, you’re not a friend. You’re not even an acquaintance.

But you have something they want, whether it’s knowledge or a tool.

It’s not wrong in all cases to pitch your services right away, or at least say that they are available, but in many cases it is.

In general, people tolerate pitches in order to get value from you.

If you pitch too soon, too frequently, or too hard, you’ll scare away a potentially good prospect.

Think of every new subscriber like a new bank account. Every time you add value to their lives, you make a deposit, but every time you pitch them or don’t deliver on your offer, you make a withdrawal. Take out too much, and the account will get closed.

Trust takes time: You have to earn trust by giving away value, time after time. Once a subscriber realizes that you’re not just trying to make a quick buck off them and that your work is actually making a difference in their lives, they will start to trust you.

Glen Allsopp, owner of ViperChill, runs a hugely popular blog on viral marketing. He is known for creating epic guides and providing new insights within his niche that no one else has discovered yet. In other words: he provides tons of value.

When his subscribers get an email from him, they know it’s going to be something that improves their marketing results. That’s the secret behind his outrageous open rates:

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Step 3: Make it personal

Think about how you make a new friend.

You learn more and more about the person over time, as they learn about you, until you become better friends.

You bond over similarities and common interests.

Obviously, you and your subscribers have a shared interest in your particular niche, but at the beginning, you don’t have anything else beyond that. You’re just a name behind some text.

Here is how to make friends with your subscribers.

Share interesting personal stories

One of the best ways for someone to get to know you and get a glimpse of your life is for you to share personal stories with them. You can do this in your blog posts, but email is another great time to do it. After all, when friends want to tell us a story, they don’t write us a blog post. They send us an email.

Bryan Harris often begins his emails with entertaining short stories. But he always finds a way to tie them back to his point. So, not only do you learn a little bit more about him every email, but you also get the value you’re looking for.

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Talk to one person—add personality

No one wants to be talked to in a corporate tone. You should write emails just like you write blog posts. Use the words “you” and “I,” and don’t be afraid to include questions and some occasional slang.

When you write your email, pretend you’re writing the email to one specific person—a friend. If you have trouble doing this, go to Gmail, start a new message, and write your email there. Then, just copy the message back to Aweber or whichever email service you’re using.

If you try to rush, you’ll freak people out

I think everyone’s guilty of this at one point or another in our lives, although some more than others. You meet someone, and they tell you their life story right away. It’s like when a person you’re dating tells you they love you on the first date (classic Ted Mosby).

Relationships take time to develop. When it comes to your email list, you need to share stories and personal details one step at a time. When someone first subscribes, they might like to know who you are and one cool fact about you, but they don’t want your life story.

Step 4: Create cliffhangers

We already talked about the power of curiosity.

One tactic you can use to take advantage of it is cliffhangers. If you’ve ever watched a TV show, you know what a cliffhanger is.

It’s when something unexpected happens right at the end, leaving you dying to find out what happens next. If you want to find out, you need to watch the next episode.

TV shows have been using cliffhangers with great success for quite some time, but marketers are still playing catch-up.

Think of every email you send as an “episode” that leads to the next. You should always build upon each email you send.

Near the end of each email, you’re going to reveal some sort of result that you or someone you know achieved, e.g., getting a post to go viral and attracting over 50,000 views.

Then, tease.

Say that you’ll tell them exactly how you were able to achieve that result in your next email. BOOM—instant cliffhanger.

You can create a cliffhanger in a few different ways.

The first is to simply continue a topic your subscribers are already interested in. For example, here’s the end of another email from Bryan Harris. Instead of overloading the reader with too much information in this single email, he tells them he’ll send over the next part tomorrow.

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Here’s how you create a traditional cliffhanger, courtesy of Nathan Barry. See how he ends it off? He reveals that he knows a pricing strategy to triple revenue, but he won’t share it until the next email. I’m hooked.

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Finally, you can be even more subtle if you’d like. Ramit Sethi is the master at slipping in little teasers throughout his emails or at the end in a P.S. He simply asks three questions that most of his readers will want to know the answers to, which will then prompt them to open next week’s email.

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Step 5: Email shouldn’t be one-sided

Serious question:

Do you value the opinion of your subscribers?

I really hope you answered yes. If you don’t, what’s the point of all the work you’re doing to make their lives better?

Now, I think most people answer yes to that question, which is great. So why is it that most email lists feel like one-sided conversations?

I talk, you listen.

That’s the wrong way to approach it.

So, what’s the solution? Get your readers involved.

A lot of marketers know this already but attempt to get subscribers involved in all the wrong ways.

Similarly, a lot of okay but not great teachers do the same thing. They ask their students questions, but they do it in a way that doesn’t entice anyone to answer. *Cue awkward silence until the teacher singles someone out.*

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Think about why people don’t answer:

  • they’re afraid to be wrong
  • the answer is obvious
  • they don’t care about the question
  • they feel insignificant (“just let someone else answer”)

Let’s deal with these one-by-one.

Reason #1: They’re afraid to be wrong

You are the expert in your niche. Your subscribers don’t want to look dumb in front of you if they answer a question wrong.

Here’s what you can do about this.

The first thing you can do is to let them answer anonymously. If you’re simply collecting data, send them a link to a Google Forms sheet, and give them the option to leave off their name. Make this a clear option in the email.

The second thing you can do is to share what your answer was when you were asked the question the first time (if you were wrong). Challenge them: say that almost no one gets it right the first time (you didn’t), but invite them to take a guess.

The third is to give them an alternative. Many are intimidated by having to reply directly to you. Instead, do what Ramit does: give them the option to leave a comment on your site.

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Reason #2: The answer is obvious

I ask many questions in my blog posts, mainly because the answers are obvious. I don’t need you to reply to those questions, and you know that. Sometimes though, marketers will ask ridiculously simple questions in their emails to try to encourage engagement, but subscribers don’t take those questions seriously.

The lesson from this is that you can’t trick people into engagement. Only ask questions that serve a purpose.

Reason #3: They don’t care about the question

This one’s easy, and you probably don’t need to worry much about it. Occasionally, some marketers try to ask questions about unrelated topics that will go ignored for the most part. Instead, keep the questions to your niche. It’s as simple as that.

Reason #4: They feel insignificant (“just let someone else answer”)

This is by far the trickiest hurdle to overcome, especially when you have a big list. You’re trying to make someone feel special even though they are just one of thousands (much worse than a classroom).

One technique to overcome this problem is to target a very specific portion of your readers. Instead of asking:

“What tactics have you tried to increase your conversion rate?”

Try:

“I know not everyone has a huge site, but if you own a site with 20,000 or more visitors per month, what have you tried so far to increase your conversion rate?”

Sometimes it’s better to exclude a part of your list (they won’t mind as long as it’s not all the time) to make another part feel more special.

Another technique you can use to make your subscribers feel special is one I saw Carol Tice use. You ask for answers or feedback to feature them in a future email or blog post.

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Finally, never make your readers feel like they are sending their responses into a black hole. I’ve seen a lot of marketers improve in this area lately. When they ask a question at the end of an email, they make sure to point out that they respond to all emails or, at the very least, read them.

Respond to as many as you can. Even though it may be time consuming, it’s the best way to build relationships with your readers and gain true fans. If you’re running out of time, try some of these Gmail plugins.

Step 6: Bigger isn’t better

This is a very general rule and can be broken.

Some marketers write very lengthy emails, even with 1,000+ words sometimes, and do very well with them.

However, if you’re going to write that much, you’d better have something really important to say.

If your subscribers read through all of that lengthy email and get nothing out of it, they aren’t going to do it again.

Another thing to consider is that if you send email updates more than once a week, most subscribers won’t have the time to read multiple lengthy emails unless they love you.

Finally, it takes a long time to write good long emails. Most marketers that do so regularly are strong copywriters as well.

This is why, unless you have a good reason, you should stick to a short clear email.

Informz found that shorter emails get the highest opens and click-through rates. They also found that emails with more links have higher click rates. With less content, every link you include will stand out more.

Step 7: Function over form (make it readable)

If there was a way to measure bounce rates of emails easily, I think many marketers would find the data shocking.

If you don’t make your email quickly loadable and highly readable, your subscribers are just going to delete it and move on to the next one.

Tip 1: Go light on images and fancy formatting

We all know that images are important in blog posts. They break up text, reinforce points, and make your content look better.

And while there are similarities between emails and blog posts, this is not one of them. Images and formatting should be kept to a minimum in your emails. Hubspot found that the more images were in an email, the lower the click-through rate was.

One problem is that they take longer to load on most mobile connections. Considering that 44.7% of email is opened on mobile devices, this is a big deal.

Another concern is that they distract readers from your text and links. If you do include images, make them complement your content, not compete with it.

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Tip 2: Format for all devices

Like I said, almost half of emails are opened on mobile devices. That means that optimizing your emails for mobile is even more important than optimizing your blog posts for mobile.

Here are some best practices:

  • Keep the line length short: most phones have a maximum width of 300-500 pixels.
  • Keep pictures to a minimum: they can show up wrong, bloat the file size, and cause the email to get flagged as spam.
  • Use dark text on a white background: light text is often more difficult to read on mobile devices.
  • Minimize HTML: even common tags like paragraph tags aren’t recognized by all mobile email apps.

Tip 3: Make links obvious and easy to click

Always keep in mind the point of your email. For most emails, the point will be to get your readers to click through to a page on your website. You need to make it clear.

Additionally, links can be difficult to click on small mobile screens, so the more they stand out, the better your click-through rate will be.

Here are some of the things you can do to maximize your click-through rate:

  • Use a bigger font for links
  • Put links on a separate line
  • Bold links
  • Put multiple links to the same post with different anchor text

You don’t need to do all of these at the same time to get a link to stand out.

You’ll notice that I use the same template for most of my emails. You can see that one link is on its own line, and in total, I include three links to the same post.

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Step 8: Send consistently and deliver on your claims

Right within your first email, you should indicate how often your new subscribers will be getting emails from you.

Regardless of that, however, you want to send your emails consistently, or else your readers will forget about you over time, and your list will go stale. Express Pigeon found that sending four emails per month, as opposed to one, significantly increases your average open rate.

So, now you’ve got your readers regularly expecting your emails. They’re opening them thanks to your solid subject line, and they’re enjoying the content.

Now you just have to take care of one last piece of the puzzle: what happens after your readers click the link?

If you link them to a disguised sales page or a weak blog post, they are going to feel like you took advantage of them, and you will lose their trust.

On the other hand, if you send them to a post or page that fulfills your promise, you will gain their trust.

Brian Dean gets away with sending an email only about once a month to his subscribers simply because every time they click through, he blows them away with an epic post.

It’s better to be honest in your description of what you’re linking to and have a lower click-through rate than to be deceptive to get more clicks. The short-term greed will lead to long-term declines in engagement and list size.

Conclusion

Email marketing is the most effective type of marketing there is by a wide margin. It’s not going away anytime soon.

When you’re attempting to apply these 8 steps to your future emails, remember that they are guidelines, not rules.

Always think about the underlying concepts we discussed in each section to see which parts apply to your emails and when they should be used.

If you read this post carefully (maybe even re-read it a few times if you like it), you’ll have a deeper understanding of these principles. At first, they will help a bit. But over time, as you gain experience, there’s no reason you can’t achieve consistent 50+% open rates and record profits.

What’s your biggest takeaway from this post on how to increase your email open rate? I’m genuinely curious and will reply to every comment below like I always do.

 

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Comments

  1. You have thought me that email is the most important aspect of acquisition. Thank you for the in depth article about how to be successful with email 🙂

    • Raul, glad I could help. Please let me know if you have any specific questions regarding emails and I’d be glad to help.

  2. I have a confession to make – reading such a great blog post makes me feel bad, because I have not even started building my list, let alone craft my first email to subscribers.

    It’s definitely something that I need to do, at least before 2015 is over!

    Thanks Neil for such epic content – as always!

    • Xihla, don’t feel bad — at least it’s fresh in your head. Revisit this post when the time is right and as always let me know if you need any help along the way.

    • Michael Karp :

      Hey Xihla,

      I would advise starting to collect emails asap, as you might regret it down the line.

      You want to capture as much of your traffic as possible (as soon as possible). They become future customers and promotors of your business. And even if they never buy anything from you, they’re still people who will share your content, link to you, etc.

      If you’re using WordPress, you can have it fully set up in a half hour.

      This article will give you a nice walk through: http://sumome.com/stories/more-email-signups

      Even if you don’t send an email to them for a month, I think this is something you want to have set up as soon as possible. I would argue that it should be set up before driving traffic or promoting any website.

  3. with name sam haider i comment but not previewing

  4. can you please help

  5. Naman Nepal :

    Hey Neil!

    Do you use any tool to check how often your subscriber open up your email and actually read it? (If there’s any?)

  6. Hey Neil this is amazing.. I’m going to implement these tactics in my very next email campaign and see how it goes.

  7. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for this very interesting piece.

    One week ago I started writing the drip email campaign for my website and I haven’t finished yet (around 20 emails), so your article comes at the right time.

    I’ve found the second part of Ryan Levesque’s book “Ask” very useful. You may want to give it a quick look.

    Finally, something that I find very effective is to always add a P.S. with the most important call-to-action and link of the email. Like this users don’t have to to scroll-up and look for the link (especially if they are using their mobiles).

    By the way, every email of my campaign has one and only one call to action (link).

    Thanks Neil, have a great day,

    Oswaldo

    • Oswaldo, glad you found it helpful.

      I find that a p.s. has worked really well for me traditionally — great point.

      Thanks for sharing your insights.

  8. Hey Neil,

    Until now I never focused much on email marketing but now I guess you’ve completely changed my view on email marketing. Thank you for this great post.

  9. Keith Breseé :

    Hey Neil!

    I love this! Not many ppl focus on the email side of things that often.

    Even though I only produce once piece of content a month, should I still find some other content to send to my list? … Or should I just create more content (I have a feeling this might be my answer).

    Thanks Neil! I always love reading your stuff! 🙂

    Be awesome!
    Keith Bresee

    • Keith, glad you find it helpful.

      I think you should always find new and innovative ways to educate your audience. With that being said test it out and see if it works.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  10. Saurabh Shukla :

    Wow Neil, this is really awesome n detail post..think you have covered all about mails. Now this is huge workout for me to do in such manner.

    Thank you so much champion..keep it up.

    Cheers,

  11. William Zimmerman :

    Neil,

    Great stuff sir!

    Love the fact that email marketing is still around and can be profitable!

    Have a great day!

    Bill Zimmerman

  12. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for nice post. I think that if Email Marketing is used right will make huge results. I tried some tips, but not effective. I think these tips will help me so much to do email marketing.
    Thanks again

  13. This is going into one of my best post titles ever. I agree with the image part. After testing, I usually don’t include images in my emails anymore. Thanks for sharing.

    • Edwin, thanks for sharing your insights. I think the part most people neglect is the subject line — that’s what induces clicks.

  14. Hi Neil,

    Email marketing will remain the best tool for marketing.
    People may spend a lot of time on social media,but most end
    up trying to sell instead of building a relationship.FB is a place to engage and most make a mistake here.Stats and wisdom shows email marketing will remain the best tool with the highest ROI.

    Would be nice if you have a summary in the end.Long posts do take time to grasp. Some of the list building courses do cover some of the aspects such as headline,crafting your mail and recall Anik having covered that in Inboxer.Would like to see you doing something with Anik,one of these days.

    An excellent article,very informative and educative.

    Regards

    Ajay
    http://ajayjoshi.biz

    • Ajay, thanks for the tips. I like to keep the summary short and open ended to drive conversation much like we are having here 😉

  15. As always, a really demonstrably useful post.

    Much appreciated, Neil, particularly as you impart your wisdom without talking down to us.

    Thank you very much indeed.

    Kindest regards,
    Zara.

    • Zara, I think it’s important to talk to people as if they are colleagues — Thanks for the kind words of support.

  16. You must have read my mind! I just created a goal to learn more about creating effective email campaigns – just this morning – so when I saw your email I was actually shocked!

    One of my biggest issues has been with consistency, and I know that’s why a lot of my subscribers have gone cold. I actually have a pretty good open rate with new subscribers, so I need to be more consistent.

    Also, I always include a ton of pics in my emails, so I’ll definitely be trying a cleaner/lighter email for now on.

    Thanks for the insights!

  17. Kari, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think it’s important to do an email audit and inventory to see what you may be missing. Let me know how it all works out!

  18. Chris Makara :

    I completely agree on your points about being personal within the emails. Of the lists I am subscribed to, very few actually take this approach.

    It’s unfortunate because I definitely look forward to the emails that do take this approach. By being personal in their email, I feel that I have a better relationship with the person on the other end.

    Neil – have you thought about doing a content upgrade at the end of these types of posts instead of the “explosive seo secrets” opt-in?

    This way, users can walk away with an actionable checklist or something?

    I’d be curious if you could test both options and see what happens 🙂

  19. Hey neil,

    Great post neil. But i have no money to use paid email service in this moment. I thought to use jetpack email subscribe service. Is it a bad idea?

    Thanks

    • If you are looking for a free ESP, Mailchimp’s free plan may work out for you…it offers free features for up to 2000 contacts and is a nice option to have when money is tight.

      P.S. No affiliation or any relation with Mailchimp, just a user short on money who appreciates and uses their free plan.

  20. Elmail Clinton :

    Hi Neil,

    how many percent your open rate ?

  21. Thank you for the most helpful insights. As a Internet marketing beginner , you’ve been selected as my mentor for email marketing (OK with you?). It’s hard enough getting a useful list and then seemingly being penalized by the majority of recipients list who don’t bother opening my emails, can be discouraging. Your postings will be a big help. Thanks.

  22. Excellent post, Neil! I had not heard about not including images in email but I have been observing what you do. They are always short, in plain text, with clear links, and have teaser language. Thanks so much for the useful tips!

  23. Jeff Pederson :

    Thank you for this informative and well written post. This will make a good point of reference for my email team. Thanks so much for the info!

  24. How to decide the first gift for creating a list and how do I get it created? I am starting and have thought “creating wealth” as my niche.

  25. Nate Johnson :

    Great post Neil!

    As always loads of great info here! I think my biggest takeaway, or thing that has me excited to try was asking a question aimed at a certain segment of the audience. I can see how that would increase peoples likelihood of responding… In fact I think I’ve fallen victim to this tactic myself. 😉

    Really good stuff!

    Personally I have had great success (on par with your leadmagnet download) example by automating emails based on certain page views. (Looked at a page about X, send them a bunch of free value about X).

    Powerful stuff Neil,

    Nate Johnson

  26. Tania Ryseck :

    Thanks for the great advice. Biggest takeaway is to speak like a normal person and not so formally!

  27. I’ve found that writing to that one person and being personable goes a long way. When people realize it’s a personal email from a real human being written to just them, they are more likely to drop their guard and not be so defensive.

    We’re all so desensitized to email due to how much we get and how much of it can be crap/spam. Breaking through that defense can seem impossible but it all starts with simply being personable.

  28. Neil – question regarding Step 6…

    Regarding email body content, how short is short? 150-200 words in the email body falls in between, or can be considered okay or too long?

    Here, am not talking about a drip campaign, but cold emails i.e. Emails sent to a cold list, requesting a time slot to set up a demo or set up a call to discuss how my product can solve their problem… Basically a cold hard sales email.

    Perhaps difficult to answer, but my gut says short emails are good, but then I start wondering – do short cold sales email build the connect? What about having a conversation, by email?

    • Anupam, I definitely think you should test it out. Depending on your niche there may be some variables that necessitate shorter copy.

  29. Thanks for sharing very good article.

  30. Hello Neil.
    Although I regularly read your posts, this is my first ever comment on your blog.
    I’ve finally encouraged to do that 🙂

    This post is like the holy Bible to me regarding that I’ve started building my list just recently.
    Lucky for me that I’ve had time to read it because you discovered too many things I was doing wrong already.

    Looking forward for more great posts from you. Best Regards.

    Bernard Matic

  31. Preston Miller :

    Thank you Neil! Every time I am wondering about a certain topic I swear that you blog about it that same week!

    Blog On!

  32. Too many images get a lower CTR.

    #Awesome tip to know for when I get a large email list.

    Thank you dude, you kick ass.

    Marc.

  33. Nilantha Jayawardhana :

    An awesome post Neil. Thank you very much.

    I use mailchimp as my email marketing solution. The average of open rate is 14.2% and click rate is 2.6%.

    I will try to apply new technique to increase my open rate and click rate.

  34. Marc Rosenkrans :

    Neil,

    This is a fantastic post, with clear, actionable advice and I for one will be referring back to it often!

    Thanks for putting this all together in such an easily digestible format, this will help everyone from the beginner to advanced email marketers.

    Looking forward to using some of these tips with my clients and sharing this article with them also.

    Much appreciated!

    Marc

  35. Great post as always. Ironic though that I still have not received your lead magnet, even after trying 3 different email addresses over the course of 3 weeks 😀

  36. Cedric Markwatson :

    Neil again you come up with awesome post no no awesome guide. You brilliantly described the importance of Email subscribers. I am a great fan of your writing style and creative thinking. Thanks Neil for educating us.

  37. Vicky Choksi :

    Very in depth article. You have mentioned each and every points that should be considered for successful email marketing campaign.

    God bless!

  38. Thanks for Sharing Nice Articles ..

  39. Hi Neil,

    Great job buddy, I’ll defiantly follow all steps, and I’m going to share the post with my friends so they can also know about great stuff.

  40. Saulo Segurado :

    Great post, Neil. Steps 5 and 7 are a must!

  41. Hi Neli,

    The content that you have provided so far are really good. But what you can advise on someone who needed to have an decent amount of income and just started learning on the niche that they discovered that they love? In order to deliver quality content and build trust, it would definitely take some time to make sure it’s well delivered.

    How did you manage to make some income when you just started created your blog adding value, knowing that it takes some time to establish trust and getting traffic.

    Thanks,
    Wilson

    • Wilson, I definitely started off small then scaled up from there. It’s all a process and once you get it down you’re gold.

  42. It’s like you were reading my mind! I have almost 6,000 subscribers and am struggling to be consistent and consistently valuable to them. My main problem: I don’t run a marketing blog! I also offer no services! Do you have any advice for a purely entertainment blog? My only value is (hopefully) laughter and (also hopefully) fun things to share.

  43. Eduardo Cornejo :

    Hey Neil,

    Would you say it’s harder to obtain email subscribers, or blog post comments? Lately I’ve told myself that if I can obtain more and more comments, I will be on my way to obtaining more customers, as for me it’s a lot easier to get email subscribers.

    Also, can you do a post on monetizing a blog from a country like the U.S. to other countries less well financially (Spanish countries for me)? I wonder how pricing works in these cases.

    Thanks! 🙂

  44. Like always the case, it’s the title which matters most

  45. Hello Neil,
    You believe it not we are going to start email marketing for our company, and you have just published this great post. You always help us in different ways.

    I have one question here that we don’t have any email list now, and we have bought it from someone. So will this email help us? How much these data are effective?

    Please reply.

  46. Marston Gould :

    Neil –

    Nice summary. You hit almost every nail on the head. Three things that I would add:
    (1) Measure, measure, measure

    * Its vital that good email marketers take the time to set themselves up for success by inserting tracking codes that can really help understand what is happening at the individual level. Most email platforms will tell you how many times a particular link was clicked in an email, but they generally won’t do that at the individual level. One practice I have started in most of the email programs I manage is to add unique tracking codes to each and every link within each and every campaign. This really helps understand the intent of users who click through your email and what they do afterwards. Often times you will find the downstream bounce rates, dwell times and conversion rates to be significantly different from one email content item to the next.

    * And….if you have it, I always recommend hooking up your individual data to a tool like kiss metrics so that

    * Also don’t forget to measure and compare your cohorts performance. How long does it take for 50% of your registrants to become inactive and is that time frame getting shorter or longer? If your database is getting old and stale, don’t expect to rejuvenate it. That’s a colossal task. The longer someone is disengaged, the more likely they are to stay that way.

    * Also, if you can, keep track of how a registrant was sourced. Did they come from organic or paid search, a referral, direct, some specific ad campaign, from a third party, or even from some flash/discounter? Knowing the source mix of your database will tell you an awful lot about how it is likely to perform in the future.

    (2) Segment email users based on actions

    Many marketers segment based on engagement: Open or click, but few take the time to segment that latter group by the detailed actions they have taken. Tools like kiss metrics really assist with this because you can tie activity to an email address. For instance, do people directly engage with the landing page content you provide them or do they end up wandering around finding something else on your website to draw their attention. Knowing this really helps create follow on customer journeys at the unique individual level. That outcome of which is almost always higher follow on open/click through rates.

    (3) Give to get

    This concept works well on registration, but it can also work well for other promotions and content as well. Email is just a hook, but if there isn’t any bait on that hook, your not likely to get many fish. Depending on your audience, its really important to provide customers with specific details about what is in it for them to click through an email. If its just so they can read more details, well you’re likely only going to wind up with 3% click through rates like you illustrate. Create something that can only be had by clicking through the email. There are several options here – white papers, flipbooks, unique offers, early access…I could go on. Payback matters. When we added payback content to some email campaigns, we saw click to open rates go beyond 60%

    Marston

  47. Raymond Duke :

    Hi Neil,

    Loved this post.

    My favorite thing about it was how you used to recent examples to demonstrate your points — this tells me (and everyone else) you’re up-to-date on what’s working now. Such a great thing to do.

    I think the one issue right now with teaching people email is the strategies vary from small to big biz. Some of the things mentioned will work like gangbusters, some won’t.

    Anyway, I juuust tweeted your post here — https://twitter.com/RaymondDuke/status/614136941236326400 (A RT from you would make my day).

    Keep it up with the great content, Neil!

  48. Hi Neil,
    If I provide good valuable content, is it a sin to email my list every day.

    My primary opportunity recommends it, but I am concerned that my email open rates will decline.

    What are your thoughts?

    Jack Later

    • Jack, if you are worried about losing subscribers I would share the good content for shares and pick and chose when comes to other content.

  49. Hi Neil, thank you for the interesting content. Is it recommended to have different content on your email list, or should it be a subset of your blog posts so as to link your subscribers back to your blog?
    If you have different email lists for different groups of subscribers, should that still link back to the same blog posts plus having different email content for that same topic, or do they normally receive different email content and blog posts altogether?

    • Gladys, great question. I would recommend only promoting your content as your list is valuable and you don’t want to lose any followers by providing them things they didn’t sign up for.

  50. Pashminu Mansukhani :

    Hi Neil,

    Great post, as usual.

    I receive your highly informative emails regularly.

    Just one question:

    In addition to the text links, should I include links to my website / blog in the signature of the emailers?

    • Pashminu, definitely. You want to give people as many opportunities to connect with you as possible.

      • Pashminu Mansukhani :

        Thanks Neil.

        I will be sending my first text only emailer tomorrow via. Mailchimp. This is almost same as your text emailers with three links and no images.

        Excited to check the response of the open rate and clicks 🙂

  51. Rahul Sharma :

    Hi Neil,

    Every week i am receiving your post in my email which is written is really amazing style as you have shared through this blog. And after receiving your new post i can’t wait to read just clicked the link and reading your post.

    Just One Question:

    in addition to text or html email template, most of the subscribers couldn’t get enough audience because all the emails gone in SPAM/TRASH.
    But when you’re posting blogs on your website all subscribers receiving email in INBOX. please describe in your next blog ?

    Thanks for the brief guidance about email writing for Subscribers.

    Good Luck
    Have a Nice Day Ahead .

    @AMRahulSharma

  52. AB Associates :

    You are absolutely correct, I am completely agree with you, email marketing is more effective than social media marketing. But mostly people don’t have any a proper idea about email marketing. This blog post is very much helpful for them. I learned new tips from this blog.
    Great blog with interesting content, thanks for sharing this article with us.

  53. Anne Sutherland-Smith :

    Neil, thank you for sharing your advice. I have been running automated RSS generated emails for my blog for a while and have gotten a very low click through rate. I decided to trial a couple of different email formats and I (shamelessly) copied your short email format as one of them and I am amazed to see the difference I achieved for very little actual work!

    For my first newsletter I managed to get a 32.7% open rate and a 7.7% click through rate (and a 4.4% unsubscribe rate) on what most people would have regarded as a reasonably un-engaged list (of course helped by the fact that I also had an awesome new article with a great topic to link to!). I will continue my experiment and it will be interesting to see if I can continue to achieve these kinds of levels.

    The next step is to create a lead magnet for my email list and see what difference that makes to my email subscriber uptake rate. Thanks for providing good advice!

    • Anne, glad I could help. Looking forward to hearing much more from you. Let me know if you need any help along the way.

  54. Zak - Prosyn IT Support :

    Great blog post and agree with Informz that shorter emails = higher CTRs.

    A couple of things we have found have worked well for our list include:

    – Using unicode characters in our subject lines (makes them more interesting)

    – Adding our from: email in our G+ profile, which shows subscribers my picture if they are using Gmail.

  55. Puneet Sharma :

    Very useful read.

    Thank you Neil!

  56. Great article ! Reminded me of what you said at GPEC in Romania this year !

  57. Tom Benattar :

    Hi Niel,

    Really great article!

    A Click rate is on all subscribers or just subscribers which have open the newsletter?

    Thanks!

  58. Deepak Kanakaraju :

    They say that you email list will erode by 25% every year. I think it is not for everyone. What are the numbers like for you?

  59. They say that you email list will erode by 26 % every year. I think it is not for everyone. What are the numbers like for you?

  60. Mian Aurangzeb :

    Nice suggestions Neil,
    Briefly tell me, how to get more comments from your readers. Are comments important to rank in search engines???

  61. Thanks for great post. I have some own experiences with emailing (fashion brand). Customer base 40 000.
    My Open Rate is really low – about 4-5%, but I’m getting 25-35% CTR.
    My main problem is that emails went to promo tabs in Gmail, or spam, or email title wasn’t correct/convincing.
    Any hints?

  62. Ilyas Sheikh :

    Hi Neil..This is a awesome informative post.. I will follow these guidelines in my further campaigns. Thanks You So Much

  63. Loved the article. Extensively great and useful. I will definitely follow all these step while I start my own blog soon…

  64. This is great Neil. I do not know how I missed this useful information. Anyway, still right time for me, just about to implement these strategies. Thanks Neil.

  65. Mohammed Yusuf - Burhani IT Support :

    I was searching high and low to figure out why my email campaigns have not been performing as expected.

    The very beginning of this article hit me where it hurts – i was not setting the right expectations when sending that first email out.

    Thanks for the gr8 post as always Neil.

  66. DelicateSoft :

    Very Very Useful and incredible useful post like always!
    Much appreciated Mr. Neil, you give your insight without talking down to us.

    Thank you very much.

    Best regards,

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