Double E-mail Open Rates With This Simple Test

Ian Lurie

Test your subject lines, and you can easily double your open rate (the number of people who read your message).
If you use an e-mail marketing service, such as Whatcounts or Emma, they deliver 3 critical statistics:

  • E-mails sent.
  • E-mails opened.
  • Links clicked.

If you’re not using one of these services, you need to. Prices usually start at less than $40/month.

That’s all you need to double the number of people that open your e-mail marketing pieces. Here’s how:

  1. Write 2-3 subject lines. If you need help, read Copyblogger’s excellent articles about headlines.
  2. Divide your list into segments. Chances are your e-mail marketing tool lets you do this. If it doesn’t, create 4 separate lists. Put 10% of your e-mail addresses into the first three lists. Put the remaining 70% in the fourth. So you’ll end up with a 10-10-10-70 distribution. The first three lists will be your tests. The fourth is where you’ll send the winner.
  3. Send the same e-mail to lists 1-3, using a different subject line for each one. Try to send them at the same time. That ensures the e-mails are all being viewed under roughly the same conditions.
  4. Watch e-mail opens and clicks until they taper off.
  5. Find the subject line that generated the best open rate.
  6. Send out the remaining 70% of your list using that subject line.

You’ll improve your e-mail open rates every time. If you don’t, you can send me angry e-mails, or leave nasty comments below:

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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