How We Get A 54% Email Open Rate And Turn Subscribers Into Customers

We've tested over 15 email marketing strategies so far. Here's our best performing campaign, which gets 54% open rates and turns cold visitors into paying customers in less than 30 days.

Improve Email Open Rates

As I write this post, we’re adding just under 5,000 people to our email list (subscribe here) each month via our blog and various other pieces of content that we produce (long-form guides we run ads to, etc).

We write in-depth case studies to help our audience of founders and marketers capture more leads, grow their revenue, rank higher on Google, increase their Customer Lifetime Value, etc.

Our ultimate end goal with our content is twofold:

  1. We genuinely want to help our readers grow their businesses by providing them with 10x content
  2. We’d like them to consider using our SaaS software, Fieldboom, for their online forms, surveys and quizzes

When it comes to email marketing, we are big, big, BIG believers in it. Don’t believe people who say it’s so 2011. It’s not. Email rocks 🤘

We use a few various calls to action to build our email list from our blog posts, including the sign up bar you can see at the bottom of this page:

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On average, we convert over 1% of our audience to email subscribers each month. And of course, the more blog visitors we get, the more people join our email list.

Cool right?

But getting people to join your email list is only half the battle.

What do you actually send them when they become a subscriber? And how do you get them to not only open, but also read your emails and click on the links in them to take the next step in your sales funnel?

We’ve tested about 15 different approaches over the last year and in this post I’m going to show you the exact, step-by-step process we now use that gets results that look like this in a typical week:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 3.29.47 PM

If you’ve struggled with email or turning blog visitors into subscribers, leads and customers, then pay close attention. You’re about to learn the right way to dramatically boost your email open and click rates.

Start With Jobs To Be Done, Not Personas

The first thing you want to think about is which specific job your product helps your audience accomplish. If you’re not familiar with the JTBD (Jobs To Be Done) framework, make sure you watch, listen to or read the transcript of our recent interview with Alan Klement and Eric White:

The basic idea is that your customers “hire” your product to do a job for them, so instead of thinking of your customers as female, aged 30-40 and working in management (basic demographics and psychographics), think of them by the job they need to accomplish.

For Fieldboom, there are 3 primary jobs we help our customers accomplish. They are:

  • Generate more leads and therefore more revenue
  • Collect insightful customer feedback and therefore improve retention
  • Ask employees for feedback and suggestions to reduce staff turnover

As such, we structured our entire marketing automation strategy around these three primary jobs. But here’s the thing – we don’t assume the job our email subscribers want to do.

Instead, in the very first email they receive from us, we straight up ask them:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 4.09.08 PM

See those 3 links near the bottom of the email? Each one maps to a specific “job” that our email subscribers need to get done (and which they may eventually “hire” Fieldboom to do for them, if we can help them along the way with great content).

When they click on a link, we tag them in our email system (we use CampaignMonitor) based on the job they want to get done and take them to a simple confirmation page, which we set up using WordPress:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 4.11.20 PM

We make it fun with an animated GIF and use a casual tone to tell them what to expect next, which leads me to….

Choose Your Own Adventure Emails

I don’t know about you, but when I was younger I used to read those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, where you could turn to a specific page based on what you wanted to happen next:

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That’s essentially what our first email did – we asked them to choose their own adventure, AKA the job they need to get done.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but we also used a cheeky subject line to get their attention:

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This invokes the curiosity factor and the open rate this email gets is off the charts, as you can see from our stats below:

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So what happens next? Well, we tell them that in the first email too:

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We’re essentially priming them to expect a series of emails from us over the next few days.

But here’s the catch – if they don’t click one of the 3 links in that first email, they don’t receive ANYTHING from us. That’s another reason we can achieve high open rates. If they don’t want our emails, we don’t give ‘em to ‘em.

The “Brain” Of Our Automated Campaign

So at this point someone has subscribed to our email list and they’ve told us the “job” they need help doing.

From here on in, they ONLY get content related to that job. If they want more leads, we don’t talk to them about customer feedback. Ever.

The actual email sequence is pretty simple. Regardless of which job they choose, they get 5 emails over an 11 day period.

The first 3 emails are content. Really, really good content. These emails link off to in-depth posts on our blog to help them solve a particular piece of their problem.

The fourth email introduces Fieldboom and the fifth email asks them what they think of it or why they didn’t take action and sign up for a free trial.

This is an exact implementation of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook strategy, which means you provide value, value, value, then you ask for the sale or make an offer.

Very, very simple to put together. It took us about 3 hours but it runs day in, day out and drives the most leads and customers out of any other marketing activity we engage in.

Here’s how the campaign looks in CampaignMonitor:

It’s basically just a series of if…then conditions with a few emails and some delays. Any marketing automation software is capable of building campaigns like this, including Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, Autopilot and Mailchimp.

Making The Offer (Emails 4 & 5)

So many companies don’t understand that in order for someone to buy from you, they must first like and trust you as a business. To facilitate that, you send them valuable content that helps them without asking for anything in return.

Only then, do you even think about presenting them with an offer, such as a free trial, a call with your sales team, a ticket to your upcoming event, etc.

We make our offer in the context of the “job” they need to get done. For example, if they told us they want more leads, the fourth email they received would look like this:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 4.29.21 PM

You can see that we make the offer for a free trial of Fieldboom in the context of how it will help them generate more leads from their website. Once again, simple, but mighty effective.

Here’s how the stats look for this particular email:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 4.31.45 PM

For the fifth and final email, we make it completely conversational:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 4.33.19 PM

We ask just one question and the entire goal of this email is to get a reply. Any type of reply (yes, even a negative one!).

People who reply to your emails are 4x more likely to convert than those who don’t, so we keep this email short, sweet and to the point.

Also notice the subject line of “Quick question”, which is one of the best-performing subject lines of all time. It implies that the email is short and most people have time to answer a single question, which leads to high open rates, as you can see for this particular email:

Screen Shot 2018 03 13 at 4.35.05 PM

This is the FIFTH email they’ve received from us in 11 days and STILL, 1 in 2 people open it. Hopefully you can now see why this deceptively simple strategy is so, so, so effective 😀

In Closing

Email marketing isn’t dead – you’ve just gotta be creative about how you use it and you need to personalize everything to what your subscribers want, i.e. their desired outcome.

If you’re sending generic autoresponders to everyone on your list, you need to STOP that now and implement this strategy instead. It might take you a few hours, but I promise you’ll reap the rewards for months and even years to come! 📈

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Jess is part of our Customer Success team, where she helps our customers get the most out of Fieldboom. She's passionate about design, customer experience and has a weird obsession with Pom Wonderful juice 🍷