Boost your email open rate to 70% or higher with these simple steps

The first time I sent out a group email I was terrified.

  • What if they were mad?
  • What if they didn’t like what I had to say?
  • Or even worse, what if they opted-out or hit the spam button?!

Be brave! I went with the “Feal the fear and do it anyway” motto, and I was happily surprised. I received a number of thank you notes for my message. Readers said it was timely and helpful.

This gave me the courage to move on.

Fast forward: I’ve been at it for 5 years now and most of my emails get a roughly 70% open rate. Some even get 100%!

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(Got an email marketing success story of your own? Share it in the comments!)

Here are the steps I take:

Step 1: Know your audience

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely a graphic designer or creative freelancer and your audience would be clients and prospects.

We could write a whole blog post on knowing your audience but for now we’ll say that “all possible clients” doesn’t work well. The clearer your definition of your ideal client the better.

Step 2: Create client-driven emails

Client-driven emails speak to a problem your client is experiencing or something they need help with.

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(By contrast, design-driven emails focus on you and not them. They talk about the work you’ve done recently or other facts and news about your firm.)

If your emails are not client-driven, they are likely not being read.

How to come up with client-driven topics

Ask your clients what’s on their mind.

  • What are they working on?
  • What are their biggest challenges right now?
  • Where is their pain?

Write your email about solving your client’s problem.

Step 3: Put the pain in the subject

Your email subject line is one of the most important aspects of your entire email. Make sure you address the problem you’re solving for your client right up front.

Instead of: Check out 5 new logos our firm designed this year

Try: 3 ways to get a great logo design and stay within your budget

See the difference?

The second one solves a problem your client is having, and you can still show off all of the amazing logos you’ve designed. Win-win!

Stay client-driven and you’ll see much greater success in your email open rate.

Now go write!

That’s it! Kick 2016 off right by starting (or improving!) your email marketing. 😉


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  1. Short but sweet. Simple, il try this out next time and see what the difference in the open rate is.

  2. Great article. Personally I have tried to be client driven with my email campaigns, but there are not many examples out there of what kinds of subjects to write about. Many of the graphic designers I have seen that blog or write email campaigns seem to write about graphic design in a way that is geared towards other designers. Can you possibly post some examples of emails that you have sent to your clients?

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