Email is the bread and butter of digital marketing. While it’s important to have a number of communication channels through which to engage your community, no Shopify store ( or any ecommerce store) can afford to neglect email marketing.

But the importance and prevalence of email marketing is part of what makes it so difficult. When everyone is trying to woo customers with email, it becomes that much harder to make yours effective. And the first hurdle (after building your email list) is getting people to open your emails.

Here are eight ways Shopify store owners can optimize their emails to maximize open rate. Armed with these strategies, you can expand the reach of your message and ultimately bolster brand awareness and gain more customers.

1. Step Up Your Subject Lines

This first strategy is probably the most obvious. There are tons of articles out there with tips on how to write better subject lines. After all, one study found that 33 percent of people decided whether to open a message based solely on the subject line.

A few tips:

Change it up. Even regular email series and newsletters should have unique subject lines that capitalize on the most interesting pieces of content. Create a knowledge gap. Humans are naturally curious creatures. Think of a subject line that makes the reader want to know more.

Keep it short. Email providers display a limited number of characters. Your brilliant subject line will fall flat if people can only see half of it.

2. Spruce Up Your Sender Name

The way we receive a message has a lot to do with who we receive it from. You probably take criticism better from a respected colleague than from a stranger. The sender name that shows up with your email helps shape how people feel about the message and whether they click on it.

Set your sender name to display a specific person’s name. This shows your audience that there’s a person behind this digital message. Be sure to sign the message with the sender’s name.

3. Re-evaluate Your Email Frequency

Have you ever lived in a neighborhood where car alarms seem to go off all the time? Sooner or later, you just start tuning them out. The same principle applies to email. If you want people to take notice and engage with your messages, you have to stay in touch without overwhelming them. Experiment with your email frequency to find the right balance.

You should also track what email lists each subscriber is on. Don’t inundate a customer that has ordered multiple times from you with emails geared for someone that still is not a first time buyer.

4. Time It Right

The time of day that you send an email can effect whether people open it. Think about when your audience is likely to engage with your emails. Depending on your community, it might be early in the morning, early afternoon, or some other time. This is another place to experiment and find your store’s sweet spot.

5. Clean Up Your Email List

When a Shopify store owner wants to improve their open rate, they usually start thinking of how they can coax more people into clicking. But in most if not all cases, it makes sense to start removing people that have not interacted with your emails after a certain period of time from your list entirely.

If you have dozens or hundreds or thousands of contacts who haven’t opened any of your emails over the past 180 days, it might be time to remove them from your list.

You can also create a segment of these people specifically and send an email flow containing one or two emails that directly address their inactivity. In these messages, you can give people the opportunity to unsubscribe,  adjust their mail settings, or even offer a larger then usual discount code as a last ditch effort to convert them.

While you always want more people opening your emails, purging uninterested parties is one of the best ways to increase your open rate.

6. Segment Your Lists

Another way to approach reviewing your email list is to spend some time studying your audience and segmenting them. This way, you can send more personalized content tailored to their interests and giving habits. At the very least, create a separate list for customers who have purchased from you more then once to ensure you are properly expressing your thanks and further developing the relationship.

You can also create segments based on…

  • Purchase size
  • Purchase frequency
  • Subscribers who have not purchased yet

7. Try, Try Again

Resend emails to people that don’t open them. When used sparingly, this can be a great way to reach a greater proportion of your audience. Resends are intended to remind people interested in your products to check them out.

For example, some people may be interested in your emails but they are busy when they see the email or they get distracted. A resent email gives them another chance to engage with the content.

8. Optimize Every Variable With A/B Tests

Many of the elements that improve open rates are perfect for A/B testing, which is when you send two similar emails to your audience to see which one performs better. By changing just one detail (called a variable) each time, you can determine which practices work best for you.

For example, you might perform a test in which half of your email list receives one subject line and half receive another. By comparing the two groups’ open rates, you can learn what entices your subscribers to open a message. You can perform similar tests for the timing of emails, frequency, sender name, and more.

Email marketing is a constantly evolving challenge, but with some forethought and smart experimentation, you can improve your store’s open rates. Look at each email you send as an opportunity to learn about your audience, a chance to find out what works and what doesn’t.