Five tips for boosting your open rates

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You've just sent your latest e-mail campaign, and now the fun begins: watching those results roll in. But what if, after the initial thrill of watching your open and click-through rates fades, you're left wondering if there isn't a way to push those numbers even higher? Here are five quick tips that might help.

Get permission.

The first rule of permission e-mail marketing is just that: permission. Send only to people who've asked to receive your e-mails, and then ask your readers to add your "From" address to their own address books or safe senders list. More than any other tip we can offer, sending to a permission-based list is the best way to boost response.

Proof your content.

If your open rates are lower than you expected, perhaps a phrase or two in your e-mail kept it from arriving safely. Take a minute before you send to proof your campaign's content for such trouble words as "free," "single," "pills," "mortgage" (now considered to be among the worst offenders) and other words that may affect your spam score.

Keep the size of your email in check.

Straightforward, easy-to-read content isn't just reader-friendly; it's server-friendly, too. By keeping your e-mails shorter (under 40 KB is best) and your images smaller (480 x 480 pixels or less), you're much more likely to avoid long load times and - even worse - spam filters on the lookout for large, image-heavy e-mails.

Send when people are most likely to respond.

While there's hardly a magic time to send, you're trying to reach your audience when they're most likely to respond. So consider your audience as well as your own e-mail checking habits. And as a general rule, avoid hitting send at the close of business day, first thing Monday morning, or late Friday afternoon.

Reel 'em in with your subject line.

With the advent of preview panes and images that may or may not load automatically, your subject line has become an increasingly important part of your e-mail. Not sure which intro will wow them? Try a simple experiment: divide your audience into two groups and send the same exact campaign at the same exact time but with two different subject lines. Compare the results and see what happens.

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