Testing Tip of the Month: Increasing Open Rates – Email Growth Society

Testing Tip of the Month: Increasing Open Rates

This month our testing tip is all about increasing open rates. As you know, we need to think of our email as a series of micro conversions that are dependent on one another to reach our goal.

We need an open to get a click. That will never change. So…you must periodically test to optimize open rates. 

To get started, we’ll be going over 3 actionable ways you can test your open rates.

Before your testing begins:

  1. Identify an email that will have the most impact on your end goal. Typically this is a promotional email that drives sales. But whatever is important to you, select that.
  2. Get your audience ready
  3. Define your control
  4. Remember the latency of testing – 72 hours. To get your *actual* results, give it 72 hours before you call a winner

You may be wondering, what should I test? I’ve found that there are three things that, above all else, get results. 

Here are three A/B testes to add to your testing protocol that will help increase open rates:

Test #1: Subject Lines

Email is coming in by the minute so your subject lines must stand out. And this is not a “throw things at the wall and see what will stick,” but more of a formulaic approach. Here are types of subject line formulas to test against your control:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Add Urgency
  3. Add Attention Grabbers like emojis or brackets
  4. Hint at an incentive
  5. Add Personalization such as first name
  6. Try FOMO
  7. Be direct – tell them exactly what to expect
  8. Incorporate a stat
  9. Shorten it (ex: 10 characters)
  10. Add humor
  11. Front load a sale or discount

These are just some of the subject line formulas to get you started and increase your open rates! Here are some more examples to get you inspired: 164 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates (2021)

Test #2 for increasing open rates: The Sender (a.k.a your “from” line)

Who sent the email? When a great subject line has caught your recipients eye, next we want to know who sent it. Seeing a generic company name or “noreply” as the sender often sends up red flags that more than likely that email is SPAM or worse yet, self-promotional. 

People like connecting with people. By using the name and address of a real person on your team, you personalize an automated experience and humanize your brand. Here are some to try:


This one will more than likely need a validation test – don’t give up. Try a few to see if it makes an impact on your open rates.

Test #3: Send Time

Out of every test we can run for open rates, send time always delivers. Why? Timing is everything. It is really important to understand when to send to your recipients. 

Here’s how to test it out:

  • First come up with a standard list of times that range across the day. I always like to start with these:
    • 8:00a
    • 10:30a
    • 12:00p
    • 3:00p
    • 6:00p
  • You will want at least 1000 people in each testing group. So if you have a list of 5k or more, you can run all of these tests on the same day. 

For example:

  1. On Monday, I schedule the email to go out at 8:00a, 10:30a, 12:00p. 3:00p, and 6:00p to 1k or more people. 
  2. I wait my 72 hours, then I call a winner. 
  3. Sometimes there may be 2 or 3 times that came in the strongest. If that is the case, you run the test again on the same day with those times. 
  • Repeat by day of the week until you have a full set of winning times per day. 

There are some days of the week we find it really doesn’t matter. 

  • Think about the day of week and send accordingly based on the intention of the email. 
  • For promos, wait until the end of the day.
  • For urgent, account-based messages, send earlier.

Remember, do NOT try all of these tests at once.

Try one, validate, and move onto another one. Your end goal is creating a winning email. You’ll know the email is a winner when you start to see an increase in open rates, but for now, think of these tests as Lego block, building on one another until you are happy with your masterpiece.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning those tests now. And make sure to let us know if we can help you with anything by sending a comment our way.

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