These days everyone's inbox is flooded with emails and it's harder and harder to get noticed, much less get opened. I've been doing my own testing of what works and what doesn't, and thought you might like to see the results.
1. Optimize your “sender” or “from” field. Using a business name does not seem to work as well as using a personal name, probably because people want to read messages from people, not from businesses. However, combining the business name with the personal name seems to work well, especially if the business name is either well recognized or implies a benefit. For example, 'Joe Smith, ProBlogger' would likely work well, as would 'Jane Smith, Traffic Tips.'
2. Further optimize your “sender” field. I've experimented with using symbols before and after my name in the 'from' field to make my emails stand out, and it does seem to make a small difference. For example, ~Joe Smith~ tends to be opened more often than Joe Smith.
3. Use a great subject line. Entire products have been written on this topic alone, but here are some tips:
• Use a number: “3 Ways to Get Bigger Muscles in 7 Days”
• Use curiosity: “The Fried Banana method to Younger Skin”
• Write as if you're addressing a friend: “Hey” “What do you think?” “Okay?” “I told you he's crackers” “Last Sunday” “See You Tues” “Got it?”
• State a big benefit: “Look 10 Years Younger and Feel 20 Years Smarter”
4. Personalize the subject line. Everything else being the same, personalizing the subject line can increase your click through rate. Just don't over do it.
5. Avoid spam words. You know the ones: Cash, payment, money, credit, quote, etc. These words will land you in the spam folder, and you're not likely to get many opens there.
6. Optimize the preview text. Remember, the sender can often see the first line or two of text, so make it interesting, relevant, and preferably curiosity provoking.
7. Make it a habit to be entertaining. The more entertaining and interesting your emails are, the more likely your recipients will continue to open them.
8. Send twice. 8-12 hours after you send an email, send the email again to those who didn't open your first email.
Last tip: Email often. Once a day is great. If you only send an email once in awhile, recipients will forget who you are. By being in the inbox daily, I've found they are more likely to recognize you and open your emails.