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Email marketing should be part of any growth hacking strategy, but there is one important proviso — it only works if people open your emails.

Open rates are one of the key metrics to measure the success of your email marketing campaigns.

Read on and learn how you can improve those rates and get more people reading your emails.

Focus on Clarity, Not Creativity

Email autoresponder service AWeber conducted a study into what types of email subject lines were opened most frequently, the clear or the creative.

Examples of creative subject lines were: “Getting Earth-Friendly Beyond Email” and “AWeber’s AWesome Anthony A.”

Examples of clear subject lines included: “Are Blacklisted Link Shorteners Getting Your Emails Blocked?” and “Email Timing: A Look At 6 Marketers.”

The results of the study showed that clear subject lines always beat out ones that were creative.  In fact, readers were on average 541% more responsive to emails that used a clear subject line.

That’s a huge difference, and shows why there really is no benefit in trying to get too cute with your subject lines.

People simply don’t have time to work out what a creative subject line means. If they don’t understand it or can’t immediately see the benefit in reading it, they will typically ignore the email altogether.

Copy from the Best

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to get your customers to open your emails.

Instead, “copy” from the best by using what is already working for some of the smartest marketers online.

Sign up for the email marketing lists of some of the best direct marketers, such as Michel Fortin, Eben Pagan, Jon Morrow and Danny Brown.

Every few days, check your email inbox and scan down the subject lines. Make a note of any email subject line that grabs your attention.

By using this method, you can collect the best of the best. Tweak the subject lines (without losing what makes them work) so that you can use them for your own email marketing campaigns.

Remove the Fluff

Copywriter Robert Fleege once noted, “An ad is finished only when you no longer can find a single element to remove.” He could have also been talking about writing a good email message.

Read back through your emails and take out any unnecessary sentences or words. If a sentence makes sense without a particular word, remove it. Break down the large paragraphs into one or two sentences each.

Or if you are getting stuck with what to take out try using Hemmingway, which has become our go to website in the office whenever we are writing copy.

Use Numbers Rather Than Numerals

If you have a figure in your subject line, you should make it a number rather than a numeral. In a 2007 study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, it was shown that using a numeral such as “35” caught the eye better than the word “thirty-five.”

When people scan over web pages—and crowded email inboxes—the numerals stop the eye from wandering and fix their attention.

Make It Urgent

People are more likely to take action when they think it is urgent. An example would be “Sale 50% Off All Items - Only 24 Hours Left.” Be careful with urgency, however.

Only use it in real immediate-action situations. Some marketers overuse urgency in their subject lines and become like the boy who cried wolf.

Eventually, their readers don’t take the urgent subject lines seriously.

Use “Open Loops”

What did shows like 24, Lost and Breaking Bad all have in common? Each episode ends in a cliff hanger. Viewers were almost forced to watch the next episode because they wanted to see what happens.

Psychologists refer to this as an “open loop.” Our brains are always seeking completion. When we have unanswered questions, we can’t help but want the answers. Lost used open loops particularly well; just as it answered one question, it would open another.

If you want to increase your open rate, start to think a little more like J.J. Abrams. Leave the email open-ended and suggest that you will answer next time. If you make it intriguing enough, people will look forward to your next email.

Increasing the open rate can dramatically improve the response that you see from your email marketing. Remember, if people don’t open your email, they will never see the offer that you are presenting to them.