How this crazy little hack changed the game and increased the email open rates from 10% to… 40%

We all know that there are plenty of email marketing gurus dispensing free advice about how to reduce your Gmail unsubscribe rate. And then…there’s this modest, silly us!

Anyway, contrary to popular belief, for one of our clients, we decided to go against conventional grain to execute an idea that just popped up in our heads.

Why did we go down this path?

That’s because we really wanted to find out for ourselves the changes we can make so that we could boost our clients’ mail open rates.

The other reason is to stay ahead of the perennial changes which Gmail makes.

Also, we tried everything in the book of email marketing such as segmentation, removed images & URLs and included more text-based content, but nothing worked THAT WELL.

Open rates stagnated at 12-13%.

That’s when we thought of doing something that everyone emphasised as a MUST NOT DO.

So, what is the convention?

Number 1:  Must add an unsubscribe link to the email.

Number 2: Ensure that the link to unsubscribe was placed at the top of the email.

This, according to most of those pundits, was to achieve GOOD Gmail deliverability and not doing so will be at your own peril.

Hmm…

What did we do?

By now we had already chopped and changed a lot – new copy, revamped designs, etc, etc. And guess what?

The open rate simply nudged up by a mere 2%! It went up to 15%.

But that was not enough for us.

We were determined to get that rate up.

So…

We removed the unsubscribe link at the top of the email and went against the convention.

Of course, we retained the unsubscribe link at the end of the email. However, instead of two links, now there was only one.

We knew it was not the RIGHT thing to do, so we did an A/B split test to hedge our bets.

And would you believe it?!

When we analysed the campaign, we found that not only did we surpass open rates with the unsubscribe link at the top but we actually doubled the open rates without it.

The open rate for emails with the unsubscribe link at the top remained at 12.9% but it more than doubled to 26.1% with only the unsubscribe link at the end of the email.

 

 

 

 

These were uncharted waters and we admit that the results raised the adrenalin levels!

But, should we attribute this to mere coincidence? There was only one way to find out.

We sent out a few more campaigns with the unsubscribe link ONLY at the bottom.

And true to form, the open rates kept climbing and we hit the 40% mark!

 

 

 

 

In the end, this exercise was much like a digital dose of philosophy!

We figured that:

  • If you have an idea, then you’ve got to try it out. Else, you will always be asking “what if?”

At the same time, ensure that the safety nets are in place. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in the one basket. See what works and then, place all your bets on it.

  • Take a leaf out of Spencer Johnson’s ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ and be ready to make changes. What works for others, may not work for you.

Also, if you are sticking to a particular method for some time and it hasn’t worked, then, obviously it’s time to change.

Retrospectively, all we did was make a very small change, but the results were significant.

  • Most importantly, don’t forget to remove the unsubscribe link at the top of the email!

And of course, we all sat back and had a good laugh over it!

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