Here’s how you improve your email marketing open rates

I had coffee with a friend last week who runs a product brand. We chatted about the year and their 200% growth. I wasn’t surprised by the huge jump in sales.

They live and breathe their market, obsess on product quality, and produce fantastic photography and video content. Hell, if they stopped selling products today they could probably sell video and photography to everyone in their industry. It’s that good.

I’d bet my hard-earned money on them being an industry leader in 3–5 years. There’s just one crucial channel they haven’t mastered… email marketing.

They managed to grow 200% with surprisingly low email metrics. They’re stuck in email purgatory. They have a nice size list, but it’s not doing them any good because people aren’t opening their emails. They’re being tortured by all of those wonderful customers just out of their reach.

The good news, they can easily fix this email marketing problem in two steps. Here’s my advice to them (and anyone else selling a physical product, digital product, or service stuck in email marketing purgatory).

Step 1: Commit To Building A Weekly Email Newsletter Brand

A weekly email newsletter brand is simply an email newsletter with a specific purpose marketed on your website and sent every week on the same day. Your email newsletter brand is separate from your core brand. The two obviously need to be related, but the email newsletter should provide value on its own.

For example, my core brand is Special Sauce and my email newsletter brand is The Recipe. It’s important that my email has its own identity. It’s far easier to convey the value of something with a name and a specific value proposition over a generic newsletter.

Now determine whether you will entertain, inform, or teach your audience each week. My friend’s company has a specific niche and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more knowledgeable. And as I mentioned earlier, they have phenomenal photography and video skills. They are the perfect candidate for a branded email built around entertaining and informing their community.

I’m sure you have a distinct set of skills as well. Figure out what they are and use them to create a branded email product. Set up a separate page on your website dedicated to growing your weekly email brand. Craft copy that tells visitors what to expect and when. Put heat on yourself by specifying a day you will send your email each week right there on the page. By doing this, you’re leveraging the principle of commitment and consistency outlined in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Step 2: Stop Selling… For A Little While

I don’t care what you’re selling, nobody wants to be sold to 100% of the time. This is the number 1 problem for most companies with low open rates. Every email they send is selling something. This is a selfish approach to email and it doesn’t work.

The fix is simple. Don’t sell in your weekly email. Provide value and don’t ask for anything from your readers. Think of your weekly email as a gift to say thank you for being part of the community.

There will be plenty of time for promotional emails and selling, but first, you need to earn their opens with unselfish emails. You must retrain them on what an email from you contains. Think of this as reversing the Pavlovian conditioning you triggered with all of those sales emails.

Your goal in this step is to improve your open rates and get people used to clicking things in your email that will entertain and inform them. In time, you’ll earn their trust and your email open rates will double for your weekly email as well as your promotional emails.


I have zero doubt that my friend’s company will execute this two-step strategy. I can only imagine what their growth rate will be this year if they can double or triple their email marketing open rates. I predict another 200% jump at a minimum as they make consistent weekly deposits into their email marketing asset.

There’s no time like the present to start or fix your email marketing. Build a unique email newsletter brand, make a public commitment for what you will send to your community, and consistently deliver on that promise every single week. Like any investment, the more consistent you are with deposits, the more your asset will grow in value.

I send an email called The Recipe on Friday mornings. It will help you get better at marketing every single week. That’s a guarantee.

If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably meant to be. Let’s jump on a call to discuss your needs and our solutions.