How we improved email open rates with better headlines

Getting people to consistently open your emails is a daunting task.

Email marketers and newsletter writers evaluate themselves primarily on two metrics: open rate and click-through rate. Open rate is a proxy for how well you capture attention; click-through rate is a proxy for how well you turn that attention into action.

The average email open rate is 21.33%. If you can just get 1/4 of your audience to open your emails, you’re already a step ahead of the competition.

We’ve found that the main lever you can pull in order to increase your open rate is to write better headlines. Let’s do a breakdown to show you where we have evolved our headlines which has resulted in 12.5% higher open rates.

Example #1

  • The headline gives very no context on what is inside, and you’re expecting readers to open up your email solely based on who you mention in the title.
  • If you title articles based on who you feature in them, you run the risk of getting a drop off in open rates every time you don’t feature a well-known name.
  • The subheading is too long, and needs to be shortened up (generally aim for the subheading to be 2-3 lines max).

Example #2

  • The headline gives some more context of what readers can expect once inside. It uses language that our audience hears regulary and wants to learn more about.
  • The subheading is shorter and gives more clues on what to find inside. Note how much easier this subheading is to read compared to Example #1.

Example #3

  • This does everything we already covered in Example #2, but it makes your email more click-able by putting a consistent emoji at the beginging of the headline.
  • Including an emoji at the beginning makes your headline stand out in a crowd of other emails. If you’re able to capture attention like that, your readers subconscoiusly wonder what else is inside.

Other tips:

  • Use urgency: Urgency implies that the reader needs to take action or they will miss out on something worthwhile. It has the potential to improve the click-through rate and readership because of that.
  • Make it ultra-specific: Vague headlines are boring and will make your audience skip over your content. Be as specific as possible to excite them to open up your emails.
  • Cite specific numbers: This plays off the last strategy because numbers make headlines much more interesting. Compare the titles “How I Made Money Through an Online Business” versus “How I Made $115,000 By Building an Online Business”. Which one would you click on?
  • Define the audience: Define your audience and write specifically for this segment. Figure out what motivates them in their work, and build content around this.
  • Add emotional words: The purchasing process and other things in business are mostly emotional. You can attune to this and get people’s attention by leveraging emotionally charged words and phrases.