Use a sender name to increase open rates

1. Prioritize testing your sender name over your subject lines to increase open rates.

Most marketers focus their time and resources on testing and optimizing their email subject lines. However, analytics company Litmus studied the specific factors that influenced whether an email recipient opened or did not open an email. In their study, Litmus found that: 34% of people looked at the subject line of an email to determine if they should open it. 24% of people glanced at the preview text of the email. 42% of people used the sender name to decide if they should open the email. When it comes to email open rates, your sender name outranks all other factors because it: Gets evaluated by spam filters as one of the first flagging criteria and can make or break your odds of showing up in someone’s inbox. Appears first on most mobile email apps, and the majority of audiences now read their emails on smartphones and tablets. Establishes authority about the content of the email.

2. Put the reader first and start with a sender name that your email recipients expect.

Many brands make the mistake of using their own internal preferences or vanity goals without considering the email recipient’s expectations. Ask: When someone subscribes to our emails, what are they opting into on the opt-in page? When someone requests to hear from us, who are they expecting to hear from? When someone replies to these emails, who are they expecting will respond to them? For example, if you’re an influencer or a prominent individual, a sender name that is your personal name makes sense. But if someone opted into a corporate newsletter, a personal sender name may confuse them or cause them to mark your email as spam. Example sender names to choose from and when to use them include: A company or brand name. This is the safest and most common approach. For example, emails from Costco come from Costco Wholesale. A personal first and last name if your emails are from a very well-known individual or celebrity. For instance, celebrity Chrissy Teigen’s company is called Chrissy’s Cravings, LLC but her emails use her personal name.  The name of the specific newsletter or type of update contained in the email. For example, any emails from Canadian Tire about its membership program comes from Triangle Rewards.

3. Create an alternative sender name that adds a sense of exclusivity or personal friendliness to your initial sender name.

Your initial sender name, designed with your readers’ expectations in mind, is your baseline. Take it a step further by adding a bit of custom flair to the sender name to determine if that piques your audience’s interest and increases open rates. Exclusivity is powerful. People dislike feeling like they’re going to miss out on something, and people also enjoy being a part of something special. For instance, emails from cosmetics outlet Sephora come from the Sephora Beauty Insider, hinting that what’s inside will be special and exclusive to insiders. On the other end of the spectrum, personality and friendliness can make people feel more engaged with your brand. It could be as simple as Your friends at [your brand name], or it could include [Your name] at [your brand]. For example, emails from the environmental organization Sierra Club come from the name of a specific policy advocate, followed by the organization’s name, Edward Moreno, Sierra Club. It builds the name recognition of specific advocates, who readers will see in the news and other publications, while also ensuring the Sierra Club’s branding is consistently present.

4. Split test your baseline sender name and your alternative sender name for your upcoming email campaign or your next email newsletter.

Keep your data clean by using two different sender names, while also: Using the exact same subject line for both emails. Including identical preview text. Keeping the body of the emails the same.   Sending the emails to the same audience segment. Most major platforms offer a split-test option on the first page of setting up your email campaign. Follow the instructions from your email provider, as each platform is different.

5. Review the results of your split test, identify the sender name that led to the highest open rate, and use that sender name going forward.

Even a seemingly small difference, such as 0.5%, can actually equal hundreds of additional opens depending on the size of your email list.