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The number of emails sent is growing rapidly. Target Internet forecasts a growth from 109 billion in 2015 to 140 billion in 2018 (oh, and that’s 140 billion … a day).

Yes, you read that right. That’s 20 emails each day for every person on the planet!

At the same time, according to eMarketer.com, open rates continue to decline. Yet email remains at the core of most sales and marketing strategies. Strong email lists are, after all, a more secure asset than website traffic (you’re not totally in control of how much traffic your website can get, but do have full control over your email list).

So how can a salesperson increase their email open rates in a world where inboxes are already brimming over?

I’ve outlined five hacks that can double your email open rates — fast. Let’s start with email templates.

1) Build Email Templates

Potential email open rate improvement: 10-200%

As a salesperson, it’s likely that you have some seriously underused data at your fingertips. Why not build on this data to craft the perfect sales email template?

First, I suggest looking through your previously sent emails and sorting them by open rate and then clickthrough rate (admittedly, this is far easier if you use an email marketing platform). What trends do you see across these emails? Are they graphic-heavy, personalized, short, direct? Are the subject lines personalized, or are they generic? Do they create a sense of urgency?

After identifying the trends, you can formulate a hypothesis on what type of email is likely to get the highest response rate. Now create at least three different versions of the email template (we suggest focusing on one variable at a time), run them through your email marketing tool, and measure the response rate over time. Continually tweak these emails to see the biggest breakthroughs.

How to add a template? Templates can easily be added to most email and marketing platforms.

If you’re using Outlook it’s slightly more tricky but can still be done. Simply create a new email (as normal), make your template, and then click File>Save As>Select: Outlook Template as the file name. Make sure you save the template in the Outlook template directory.

To use the template visit New Items > More Items > Choose From then simply select User Templates in File System. Select your template and press Open.

Through applying the Kaizen principle to your email marketing you’ll be able to continually test what works and what doesn’t. Over time the wins will add up and you’ll be left with dramatically improved emails.

Personally, I’ve found adding personalization within subject lines and email bodies has had a significant effect — particularly when we went beyond the recipient’s first name (e.g. industry type and/or company name).

2) Deploy Walkaway Emails

Potential email open rate improvement: 50-200%

An example of one of the templates I personally use (and have had great success with) is the walkaway email. Essentially, you’re sending a final email which suggests you will close the prospect’s account if you do not hear back.

This type of email works best with prospects whom you’ve had contact with in the past but who have been difficult to get hold of recently. You suspect that the project may have gone on hold, possibly due to people leaving the company or reprioritization.

To help, here are a couple of templates we’ve used:

Walkaway email #1: “New Employee”

Hi <INSERT NAME>,

A colleague of mine called <INSERT NAME> had been in contact over the past few months with reference to a potential <PROJECT NAME> project. I am new to <COMPANY> and I am following up on potential prospects in our database. I did call this afternoon but I got your voicemail.

I am keen to find out if you still have a <PROJECT NAME> project? I appreciate that you are busy and I don’t want to waste your time, but if you could let me know if this is something you are open to discussing, I would appreciate it as we would love to have the opportunity to understand your requirements. If not, then I can stop any further contact.

Kind regards,

<YOUR NAME>

Walkaway email #2: “Closing Accounts”

Hi <INSERT NAME>,

We’ve been in contact over the past few months with reference to a potential <PROJECT NAME> project. Unfortunately we’ve been unsuccessful at reaching you recently.

We are now in the process of closing accounts.

I am keen to find out if you still have a <PROJECT NAME> project? I appreciate that you are busy and I don’t want to waste your time, but if you could let me know if this is something you are open to discussing, I would appreciate it as we would love to have the opportunity to understand your requirements. If not, then I can stop any further contact.

Kind regards,

<YOUR NAME>

These have been some of our most successful emails and usually get responded to.

3) Optimize Send Times

Potential email open rate improvement: 10-100%

Send times have an impact on your open rates, but perhaps not in the way you expect. After analyzing 21 million messages, research from Marketing Sherpa found emails sent at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. yielded the greatest number of clickthroughs.

However, they also found the best open rates occurred at slightly different times: 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (the majority were opened within the first two hours of being received).

Marketing Sherpa further identified Tuesday and Wednesday as the most effective days to send emails.

It’s also worth noting time zones. if you are targeting a UK-based customer but you’re located in California, it may be best to send your email as soon as you can in the morning. This will hit your prospect in the UK at the end of their day when they are likely to be checking their email.

The same time patterns seem to hold for both B2B and B2C companies. Lastly, linking up your email to send when certain events trigger (as covered later on) will likely have a bigger impact on open rates than generic best time of day guidelines.

4) Build/Modify Workflows

Potential email open rate improvement: 10-100%+

Workflows are a marketing automation tool within the HubSpot marketing platform that allow you to trigger events or emails based on certain criteria being met (such as a lead visiting a specific webpage or initiating a free trial).

Let’s use the example of a contact starting your company’s free trial. This action triggers a workflow which sends out emails every three days showcasing different features of your trial. The workflow ends with a final email timed to send on the day the trial finishes.

Essentially, you’re outsourcing your lead nurturing process (although additional outreach is recommended) to allow you to continuously sell your product over time. By the time your final email is sent your prospect is already halfway sold.

5) Use Advanced Personalization

Potential email open rate improvement: 20-100%

To get the most out of advanced personalization, you’re going to need as much data about your leads as possible.

Integrating your marketing automation and CRM platforms would be a great start. Furthermore, you could add custom tracking links and events across your website to see visitor activity in even more detail (such as what videos have been played or product pages viewed).

Now that you have a more fleshed out picture of your prospects, you can begin to highly personalize your emails.

For example, you could create IF statements within a HubSpot workflow to send out case studies based on industry type, or automatically send out free trial emails when a prospect hits your pricing page. Alternatively, you could trigger a cart abandonment email to send when a prospect abandons a purchase halfway through (perhaps containing a discount coupon).

Personally, I email out relevant case studies using the prospect’s name and industry type in the subject and copy, and this has more than doubled our open rates.

If you’re able to adopt all of the above methods you should see at least a 100% increase in your open rates.

Admittedly some are harder than others, and a couple even assume you have the budget for marketing automation or CRM software. If budget is an issue, I recommend starting with walkaway emails and continually testing your subject lines and copy — both of which can have a dramatic impact on your open rates.

Just don’t forget to use your email list to build relationships. You might even consider asking your list for feedback. Incorporating recipient-suggested changes with the above hacks should cause your open rates to skyrocket.

Do you already use any of these hacks? Or are they totally new to you? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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