How do you get high open rates on email campaigns?  Obviously there are a lot of factors that go into it, but one of the real biggies is segmenting your contacts.  This post will show you how our email newsletter fared last Friday and how segmentation played a big role in the great results.

Let’s start with the numbers and then talk about why they’re important.  The chart below is from our HubSpot dashboard.  These are all the same newsletter (with minor personalizations described below) sent at the same time.

Email Campaign Overview from HubSpot

The totals come to 174 emails sent, 88 opens for a 50.57% open rate, and 31 clicks for a 17.82% click rate. (Clicks are when viewers clicked one of the links inside the email.) And we had only ONE unsubscribe.  See the email here.

So how did we do?  Let’s compare to industry averages.  MailChimp reports that . . .

Only 24.2% of web merchants have an e-mail open rate greater than 25%
Only 17.1% reported e-mail click-through rates of 15.1% or more while 51.8% report click-through rates of 2.51% to 15%

We clearly did pretty well on both of those counts.  We doubled the superlative open rate and scored highly on the click-through rates they point out.  What made the difference?  We believe it was largely due to list segmentation.


Research data confirms that segmentation makes a huge difference in open and click through rates on email campaigns.  This is from HubSpot.

“According to the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, shared with us by eMarketer, 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates and 24% experienced greater revenue.”

Notice that there are four “segments” on our campaign.  “MPL” is Marcus’s contacts, “GENERAL” is professional contacts who know about us but are not clients, “CLIENTS” is self-explanatory, and “Prospects” is for folks who have expressed interest in our services.  Here is a good post on other ways to segment your contact lists.

So you’ve segmented your contacts.  What now?

Customize the From Address

Email Segmentation is useless unless you take the time to use the segments to your advantage.  One great way to do this is to make the address the email is sent from something that the receiver will recognize.  The emails to Marcus’s list were sent from Marcus’s email address and the others were sent from mine.  Many of his personal contacts would not have known who I am and would probably have trashed, or, worse yet, unsubscribed.  HubSpot provides several ways to personalize the sender address.  We chose to create a separate list or segment to distinguish Marcus’s contacts because we made the following further customizations . . .

Personalize the First Paragraph & Bio

The body of the newsletter was the same for all segments with the exception of the first paragraph.  Each segment got a customized first paragraph that explained why they got the email.  “You are receiving this email because you are one of my LinkedIn contacts” (from Marcus) or “You are receiving this email because you have expressed interest in our services” (for prospects).  You get the idea.

If the email went to Marcus’s segment, the bio at the bottom was his, not mine.  We included a picture and a couple of sentences about both him (or me) and our business.  The personal touch goes a long way with engagement.

Beyond Segmentation

As we mentioned, segmentation is just one of the biggies for increasing the effectiveness of your email campaigns.  Here are some other proven methods for getting the highest open rates on email campaigns.
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