#1 Most Important Factor for Email Marketing

Email dominates when it comes to ROI for online marketing.

And there’s value in hitting someone’s inbox even if they’re not opening your email. They’re still likely to see your company name and learn about your brand just from seeing the subject line.

But of course, what we ultimately want is someone to open the message and read it. 

So what’s the most important factor to focus on when your goal is to improve that open rate?

Let’s look at the anatomy of an email as it’s sitting in your inbox. 

Breaking Down Your Email: What It Looks Like Sitting in a Lead’s Inbox

We all have a sense of what unopened emails look like.

Essentially, there are three elements. Let’s look at this example to break it down.

  1. Sender Name: Jean-Luc Picard
  2. Subject Line: Make It So
  3. Preview Text: Our mission: to explore strange new worlds… etc. 

So, which of these three elements has the greatest impact on whether you rush to open the email — or delete it? 

The answer you often hear is: the subject line.

So you’ll find tons of articles with formulas, hacks, and best practices for the perfect subject line.

But it turns out: the subject line is not the biggest factor.

Studies show that the real deciding factor when people consider whether to open an email is… 

Drumroll, please… 

The sender name!

And if you think about it, that makes sense. 

Because if your mom sends you an email, you’re more likely to open it. 

But if somebody whose name you don’t recognize sends an email, you’re more likely to assume it’s spam. 

In other words, what matters is your relationship with the person on the other side. 

So How Do You Get People to Open Emails from Your Business?

Unfortunately, you’re not a mom emailing her kids. You don’t have that kind of automatic pull.

However, you should have a relationship of some kind with every email subscriber. 

Maybe they’re an existing customer who gave you their email. Or they downloaded a lead magnet from you. Perhaps they met you at a networking event.

In some way, your subscriber knows you.

And every email you send either builds up or tears down the relationship you have with your audience. 

If they open an email and find content that adds value for them, that’s a plus for your relationship. And the next time they get an email from you, they’ll be more likely to open it. 

But… if they open up an email and find it a salesy waste of time? You can bet they’ll relegate your emails to the promotions tab or, worse, junk mail. Because they don’t trust you to value their time and needs.

So, if you’re going to agonize over any element of your email marketing, focus on how well your content meets your specific audience’s needs. 

When you follow this philosophy, you can blow average email open rates out of the water.

What does that mean?

An average email open rate is 21.5%. Our clients, however, regularly double that — sometimes even over 50%.

Specific numbers can’t be guaranteed, of course. It matters who you’re targeting. What your industry is. And so on.

But if you are laser-focused on who your audience is, your open rates are almost certain to go up — and stay up.