Ep. 230: 4 Simple Hacks for Better Email Response Rates

4 Quick-n-Easy Hacks to Improve Your Email Response Rate

If you’re a fan of the Stay Paid pals, then you know that Luke and Josh are all about the numbers.

In order to scale your business, make wise decisions about budgets, and know what’s working and what needs to be adjusted, you must know how your marketing is performing—and that includes your email response rate.

What is an email response rate?

The email response rate is only one of several metrics you can use to track and evaluate different features of your email marketing strategy:

  • Open rate: measures the number of emails your subscribers open. Your open rate is a good indication of how effective your subject line is at enticing your subscribers to click.
  • Click rate: measures the number of subscribers who click on links and images in your email. Your click rate can suggest how well your email peaks subscribers’ desire to know more.
  • Conversion rate: measures the number of subscribers who took an action that achieved a pre-determined goal (e.g., how many leads are converted to customers). The conversion rate is often a key performance indicator affecting your bottom line.
  • Response rate: measures how often subscribers directly reply to your email. It operates as an indicator of how warm a lead may be.
  • Unsubscribe rate: measures how many subscribers choose to refuse your email. Subscribers who opt-out of receiving your emails are lost opportunities, which in some cases may be a good thing.

Each metric is important and tells a different story. Examination of each can suggest where you may want to test different options for improvement.

In particular, the response rate is an indicator of how warm a lead may be. Typically, subscribers who take an action like responding to an email have a greater interest than those who only open an email. You will want to respond as quickly as possible to these leads since you likely have a good chance of converting them into a client.

In this Silver Dollar episode, Luke and Josh share four simple hacks that can improve your email response rate.

#1 Maximize the potential of your subject line

When writing a subject line, avoid the temptation to be clever or cute. Instead, shoot for crystal-clear clarity.

Remember that your email is competing with all the other emails in your recipients’ inboxes—if someone has to guess the content or, worse, the value it holds for them, they’ll hit delete.

Did you know that personalizing the subject line can increase an email’s open rate—sometimes by as much as 18%?

There are numerous ways to personalize an email, including those that go beyond inserting the recipient’s name. However, including a recipient’s name in the subject line is a sure-fire way to grab their attention.

There are other ways to boost the appeal of your subject line, too:

  • Make it a question. But a word of caution—make sure it is a question that your recipient will answer in the way you want them to. Do you need a bicycle? would likely get a firm “No” from a lot of people quickly followed by delete. Do you need a more cost-effective way to get around town? would likely do better.
  • Include a teaser or cliffhanger. This hack works well because it can create an intense level of curiosity that the recipient needs to resolve, and the only way to do that is to click. A simple way to create a teaser is to use ellipses ( . . . ) at the end of the subject line. The incomplete thought rendered by ellipses is almost irresistible, compelling recipients to click.

If you use a teaser or cliffhanger, it’s important that you satisfy the reader’s curiosity once they’ve clicked. If you don’t, then your subject line is nothing more than click bait, which is a deceptive practice that hurts your credibility and diminishes trust.

  • Try Russel Brunson’s guaranteed, no fail, email subject line. Josh called it the “no” subject line. It combines personalization and a compelling tug at the recipient’s curiosity: Josh, have you decided to give up on X?

#2 Use a reader-friendly format

When it comes to formatting, the bottom line is you need to make your email easy to read. There are many suggestions for how to do that, some of which are based on how people read emails and websites.

While a person’s eyes can travel along the lines of several recognizable patterns when reading digital communication, one many people have heard of is the F-shaped pattern. With this pattern, a person’s eyes move along lines that resemble the letter F:

  • First, a person’s eyes will move horizontally across the top. This is the top bar of the F.
  • Next, their eyes drop down a bit and move horizontally again but for a shorter span. This movement forms the short bar of the F.
  • Finally, their eyes move vertically down the left side of the page at a speed that can be faster or slower. This is the long bar of the F.

Knowing where a reader’s eyes typically go, in what order, and where they linger, is a strong suggestion for where to put your most important content. But as noted, there are other eye movement patterns. And with any pattern, a reader may skip over important details.

The best advice regarding formatting is to intentionally guide a reader’s eyes to where you want them to go. You can prioritize and format your content so that you ensure your reader sees what you want them to see.

Nielsen Norman Group, a leader in user experience research, offers these suggestions:

  1. Include the most important points in the first two paragraphs on the page.
  2. Use headings and subheadings. Ensure they look more important, and are more visible than normal text so users may distinguish them quickly.
  3. Start headings and subheadings with the words carrying the most information: if users see only the first 2 words, they should still get the gist of the following section.
  4. Visually group small amounts of related content—for instance, by surrounding them with a border or using a different background.
  5. Bold important words and phrases.
  6. Take advantage of the different formatting of links, and ensure that links include information-bearing words (instead of generic “go”, “click here” or “more”). This technique also improves accessibility for users who hear links read aloud instead of scanning the content visually.
  7. Use bullets and numbers to call out items in a list or process.
  8. Cut unnecessary content.

And, of course, don’t forget to use transitions between ideas so that your reader’s understanding is not interrupted. A well-written sentence will be logical so that one idea naturally proceeds from the one before it.

#3 Always include a call to action

Your call to action (CTA) is the most important factor in improving your email response rate. When your reader has finished reading your email, they should know exactly what you want them to do.

How you word your CTA, where you place it, and even the colors you use can all affect how likely a reader is to click. For example, a well-designed CTA button can increase the click rate by as much as 28%. Even when a reader has skimmed everything in the email, the CTA button stands out, luring readers to click.

You can also test different versions of your CTA. Instead of the ho-hum Click Here, a simple Internet search will provide you with tons of options.

Finally, it’s critically important that you include only one CTA per email or landing page. Any more than that and you risk confusing the reader and reducing the chance of getting that all-important click.

#4 Write to be mobile-friendly

It used to be that marketers didn’t need to be concerned with how emails or landing pages looked on a mobile phone. Those days are long gone.

Today, approximately 42% of emails are opened on mobile phones. Marketers must consider how the smaller screens and mobility of these devices affect their email response rate.

The smaller screen dictates that you use fewer characters in your subject line. Depending on the device, you’ll be able to see 25–30 characters (characters include spaces). That’s a short subject line.

Fortunately, you can use a preheader (also known as a preview).

The preheader is a line or two of text that shows up after the subject line in your inbox. Depending on the email client and device, you can generally see 40130 characters.

Most marketing automation software providers like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Marketo, and others have a ready-made option to include a preheader with your email. Make use of it—it’s another opportunity to grab readers’ attention. When you don’t use it, the software may pull in the first line of your email and display it as a preview, which isn’t always what you want.

Luke and Josh provide additional detail and examples of these four hacks that will improve your email response rate, so watch the video and enjoy!


Key Points

  • Regardless of the tips, tricks, or hacks, how your email performs will be the result of its overall value to the recipient.
  • When writing subject lines, prioritize clear over cute.
  • Knowing that readers’ eyes tend to move in an F-like pattern provides guidance for where to place important content.
  • Stick to one call to action per email or landing page.
  • Since mobile phones display pre-headers, use them to entice users to open your emails.

Action Item

Start to personalize your email subject lines.

Connect | Resources

Article: The F-Shaped Reading Pattern


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