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Do you know how many sales emails actually get opened?

Less than 24 per cent.

In 2017, when more salespeople are using email for prospecting than ever before, email open rates represent a hugely important data point.

Not many prospects opening your email = not many prospects reading your email = no sale.

There’s no magic equation for getting your prospects to open your emails. But there are tactics you can experiment with.

Here are 10 ways that salespeople can boost email open rates.

Track your results

If you’re not using an email analytics tool, you’re missing out on valuable information: how many people opened your email, when they opened it, what they clicked, if they opened it again later on, if they forwarded it to someone else, and etcetera. You need these details to fine-tune your strategy.

If you’re using an email tool like Constant Contact, MailChimp, Vertical Response or Salesforce Email Studio (part of Marketing Cloud), these analytics are available directly on the platform. If you need an analytics tool to connect to your email client, check out Yesware, ClearSlide, Toutapp or Cirrus Insight.

Experiment with different delivery times

Analytics tools can help you narrow in on days and times when your email is most likely to be read. Play around it with different deployment times, and track your results.

If the data shows that 25 per cent of your recipients consistently open on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and a different 25 per cent open on Monday afternoons, consider dividing your list according to the preferred open times to maximize your email’s reach.

Personalize your subject lines

Seeing your name in the subject line can be enough to make you open an email. You can personalize your subject lines to include your prospect’s first name or their company name, using your email marketing tool of choice.

This isn’t a strategy that should be used all the time; it quickly starts to feel insincere. But used once in a while, it can spur email open rates.

Ideas for personalized subject lines include:

– Free on Thursday, [first name]?
– This could help [company name] boost profits by 30%
– Some ideas for [company name]

Don’t forget about preview text

Many of the most popular email clients — Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail and Yahoo, for instance — support preview text.

Preview text is a snippet of the body of your email that appears beneath or alongside the sender’s name and the subject line. It’s equally as important as the subject line; recipients look at the preview text to decide if the email is of interest or value to them.

It’s usually the first text in your email that gets used for the preview, making your opening lines that much more important. Be personable and engaging. Avoid clickbait-type copy that will ‘trick’ your recipients into opening. If your email template has built-in preview text like “Click here to view in your browser” or “Is this email not displaying correctly?”, edit it. Your recipients are much more likely to open your email if it doesn’t seem like a marketing message.

Get rid of trigger words

Spam filters are a godsend for keeping junk out of your inbox, but sometimes a salesperson’s emails can fall victim, thanks to trigger words that alert the filter.

What you’re trying to avoid is any word or phrase that communicates some kind of deal, opportunity or scheme. Some are fairly obvious no-nos — like “Free instant” or “No credit card check” — but others can easily trip you up. “Info you requested,” “Opportunity” and “What are you waiting for?” could all put your emails in the spam folder.

Of course, context matters. Spam filters have become increasingly sophisticated, and much better at deeming what’s truly spam or not. Still, trigger words are something to think about. We find it helpful to review Automational’s handy chart on common spam filter trigger words.

Single out prospects

Some prospects require a highly customized approach. These include high-value prospects, notoriously difficult individuals, and any warm lead you think needs one more small push to finally bite the bullet.

Take those kinds of leads off your recipient list and craft individualized emails instead.

Be informal

Think like your prospect: are you more likely to open an email that seems like a note from a friend, or an email from a salesperson?

Write your email body copy and subject line accordingly. Be friendly, approachable and laidback.

Send plain-text emails

Hubspot has found that plain-text emails have much higher open rates than fancy HTML templates. In surveys and in A/B testing, plain old emails always won out.

This could be for a couple reasons: inbox filters may categorize HTML emails as being promotions, which may discourage opens. Plus, HTML emails are an obvious form of mass mailing and if your prospect knows that he or she is just one of many that you’re emailing at the same time, they might be less inclined to open your emails going forward.

Experiment with sending plain-text emails, and see if it impacts your open rates. Most email tools offer this capability (though many require that your email includes a hyperlink, so that email data can be tracked) or, if possible, you can perform a mail merge through your own client (Outlook allows this; Gmail requires the use of an add-on or browser extension).

Resend to unopens

If they don’t open it the first time, hit them again. It might sound counterintuitive (won’t they be annoyed?) but in the email marketing world, this has become a pretty acceptable and effective tactic.

Email marketing tools make it simple to resend your campaign to those prospects that didn’t open it the first time. The key to using this strategy effectively is to change up your original email so that it doesn’t look like an identical email has landed in your prospect’s inbox. Edit your subject line and/or use a different opener.

Try resending two to four days after your original deployment.

Make it mobile-friendly

It’s 2017, and mobile-friendly emails (and websites) are now an absolute must. Forty per cent of emails get opened on mobile first. If your prospect opens up an email from you on their phone, only to find it’s barely legible, they’re not going to want to open future messages.

Always, always open an email test deployment on your phone before sending it out. If possible, test on both iPhone and Android devices.

What subject lines are working the best for you? Tell us in the comments.