How to Tune Up Your Email Marketing So You Can Improve Conversions and Make More Money

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You’ve worked hard growing an email list. Now you’re ready to make some money. You ship the magic email and wait, but the sales fall short of your goals.

I know what it’s like to spend an entire weekend clicking the refresh button begging for at least one new sale. I’ve also written individual emails that have brought in over $10,000. That’s the direction I want to take you.

Step one is getting your sales emails opened.

How to improve your open rates

Open rates suffer for three primary problems.

Problem 1. Confusing or uninspiring subject lines

Your goal with each subject line is to communicate: “This email contains valuable information about a topic that’s important to you (the reader). You can’t find this just anywhere. Check it out as soon as possible.”

Copyblogger’s Four U’s give you a framework for accomplishing this:

  • Useful: Is the promised message valuable to the reader?
  • Ultra-specific: Does the reader know what’s being promised?
  • Unique: Is the promised message compelling and remarkable?
  • Urgent: Does the reader feel the need to read now?

Problem 2. Offering your fans something they don’t want

The best way to avoid this is to communicate with your fans as early and often as possible. Their feedback will help you design content and products they desperately want and market them using just the right words.  

Problem 3. Selling to a ghost town list

Email lists are often smaller than they seem. Spam bots, fake or mistyped email addresses, and junk mail filters may be polluting your data. You think you have 3,000 people, when you’re actually only reaching 2,200.   

Pruning your list by removing inactive subscribers helps keep your numbers accurate. And using a double opt-in subscription process prevents many bad email addresses from entering your list in the first place.

Pruning your list can be painful, but here’s the silver lining: your conversion numbers are better than you thought, which means growing your list can have a bigger impact.

How to Improve Your Click-Per-Open Rate

Click-per-open rate is a very valuable metric because it measures how well your copy converts opens to clicks, which adjusts for bad subject lines (unlike plain old click rate).

Use these tricks to get more clicks:

1. Hook people fast.

Reinforce why they should keep reading in the first two-three sentences of the email.

2. Give specific benefits

“This product will help you have more of these good things and less of those bad things.”

3. Make sure your call to action is clear.

Don’t bury your call to action in a big paragraph of text. Make it stupidly clear.

“Click here to buy the product.”

When you have low open rates but high click-per-open rates, your copy is probably good. You just need to get more eyeballs on it. If your subject lines AND click-per-open-rates are good but the sales still aren’t coming, the problem is further down the funnel. Next stop, the sales page.

How to Improve Your Sales Page Conversions

When trying to improve your sales page, here are two questions to start with.

1. Is it immediately clear why the customer should want to buy?

The benefit of your product should be impossible to miss, starting with the headline.

Reduce Your Stress with a One Hour Massage”

“Learn How to Get More Mileage Out of Your Car with This Ebook”

2. Are you using the power of scarcity?

This illustrates how purchases can balloon leading up to a deadline.
This illustrates how purchases can balloon leading up to a deadline.

When you sell with a deadline, it’s not uncommon for sales to double in the final 48 hours, even if the cart was open for a week beforehand. Trying to sell without scarcity is not really selling. Add a deadline, a seating limit, or an early mover discount.

You can do this!

Everyone starts slow. Winners practice, persevere, and prosper. Start monitoring your email report data to track your progress. You are your own best benchmark. Monitor your open rates and click-per-open rates. Find out what works for your list and start doing more of it.

Note: If you’re shipping emails from Gmail or Yahoo (versus MailChimp, AWeber, etc) you may have a hard time finding report data, but you can still use the tips in this post to improve your email marketing.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Email Marketing.

BioBy day, Kyle is the Product Development Director for Full Plate Living, a non-profit with a weight loss approach designed for people who love food and hate feeling hungry. By night, Kyle and his wife Haley are the founders of Sincerely Box, a stationary subscription service that curates a box of gorgeous hand-lettered cards every month.  


Kyle Young

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