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11 “Sneaky” Tricks To DOUBLE Your Email Conversions

At DigitalMarketer we make money when we send email – that’s just a fact.

But our motives for sending millions of emails a month are more than just pure capitalistic (although no one here hates money)

We send emails because that’s how we engage with our audience, that’s how we segment people by interest and figure out what our subscribers need the most in their business.

If we don’t help businesses grow, then we fail.

See, at DigitalMarketer our mission is to “DOUBLE the size of 10,000 businesses in the next 5 years”…

…and if we’re going to hit that goal, we’ve got to engage with as many people as possible.

So we send A LOT of emails!

In fact, in the past 12 months I’ve…

  • Managed over a BILLION email sends in multiple markets
  • Created and implemented strategies to overcome major changes in Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail algorithms…
  • Used “sneaky tricks” (like the ones I’m about to share with you) to TRIPLE open rates, DOUBLE click through rates and
  • Generate over $20MM in revenue from email marketing alone!

I don’t say this to brag — only to let you know that I know how to get results from email marketing. (It’s one of those “why should you care what I say or listen to me” kinda things…)

So if you’ll keep reading I’ll show you a few sneaky tricks that could just help you…

  • 3X email open rates
  • 2X click-through rates
  • Increase engagement (You’ll see why this matters in about 3 seconds)

We’re going to go through 11 email marketing tricks that are ethical (but sneaky) but first…

… you need to understand how email actually ends up in the inbox.

(RELATED: Following Email Marketing Best Practices)

How to Dodge the Spam Folder

Email deliverability is about one thing:  ENGAGEMENT.

Email service providers like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc are looking at something called an Engagement Score to determine whether your email will go to the inbox or the Spam folder.

Engagement is measured by 4 major metrics:

  • Email Open Rate – The more opens, the higher your Engagement Score.
  • Lateral Scroll Rate – The more deeply they scroll (indicating that they are reading),the higher your Engagement Score.
  • Hard & Soft Bounce Rate – The fewer bounces, both hard (e.g. the email address doesn’t exist) and soft (e.g. the email inbox is full) the higher your Engagement Score.
  • Unsubscribe & Complaint Rate – The fewer unsubscribes and people hitting the Spam button, the higher your Engagement Score.

I know what you are thinking… “Don’t clicks count in my Engagement Score?”


The big email service providers (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!) etc. consider it a breech of privacy to consider clicks in deliverability.

Now there are other reasons (that should be pretty obvious) for improving your click through rate on your emails.  We’ll get to some sneaky email tricks that increase clicks later in this case study.

First things first…

Nothing happens until…

… your email gets opened.

And that makes the subject line of your email pretty dang important.

And that leads us to our first couple sneaky email marketing tricks…

Email Marketing Trick #1 – Use Proven Email Subject Lines

Every successful email subject line falls into one of four categories…

  • Blind or Curiosity
  • Direct or Benefit
  • Urgency or Scarcity
  • Proof/Results or Credibility

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

Blind or Curiosity Based Email Subject Lines

These subject lines tease the reader with curiosity to get the open.

They don’t directly state the benefit of opening up the email, but the mysterious nature of the subject line can lead to very high open rates.

Here are a few examples that have worked well for me in the past…

  • Less ______ = More Sales
  • Why he paid Google $524,838.71
  • kinda weird but VERY profitable
  • 7 business doubling “hacks”?
  • 1,322,956 free clicks from…
  • 137% more sales with boomerang trick…
  • 9 “Oddball” Penny Traffic Sources

Direct or Benefit Based Email Subject Lines

These subject lines clearly state the benefit of opening the email.

Here are a few examples…

  • [Facebook Ads] Get more clicks…
  • Create opt-in pages that convert like crazy
  • Generate traffic on demand
  • How To Write Bullets That Sell
  • Start building your list for just $1
  • A Native Ad in 60 Minutes or Less
  • Steal These Email Templates…

Notice how specific each of these subject lines are.  There is nothing “Blind” or curious about them — the benefit is clearly stated.

Urgency or Scarcity Based Email Subject Lines

These subject lines communicate the need to act now or the recipient might miss out on something.

Most of the examples below can be used almost verbatim in your business to get opens on your emails…

  • 85% off sale ends at Midnight
  • No More Discounts on T&C
  • Closing Down Soon!
  • Last Chance to be a VIP
  • You’re about to miss out…
  • You’re going to miss this?!?
  • Final Notice (just hours left)

Each of these subject lines communicates the need to act fast or risk losing out on something.

Proof/Results or Credibility Based Email Subject Lines

These subject lines leverage proof and results to build credibility and get the email opened.

Notice how these examples speak to the success others are having by opening up and paying attention to the contents of the email…

  • [Case Study] $188,674 from a dead list
  • Mom of two “makes” $10K in 4 days
  • This guy makes 6 figures per month?
  • AZ show owner 20X’s business by sending what?
  • 23,247 leads in less than 30 days
  • Swipe this $17,609.10 template (Download)
  • [Case Study] 259 ROI using new traffic source…

Note the specificity of the numbers ($188,674, 23,247, $17,609.10) used by many of these subject lines.  This is intentional.

You may have been taught to round up or round down “odd” numbers like these — don’t do it.  Your subject lines will stand out and be more believable if you use the exact numbers.

After all, when was the last time you saw the number 17,609.10 in print?

These “odd” numbers look… well… odd — and that’s a good thing.

Which brings me to my next sneaky trick for getting more emails opened…

Email  Marketing Trick #2 – Use Unicode Symbols & Personalization

Unicode Symbols (sometimes called glyphs) also make your subject lines stand out.

Have a look at the different symbols used in this promotion for our Black Friday Bootcamp offer…

Using Unicode Symbols in Email Subject LInes

We used all of the following glyphs or Unicode symbols in this promotion…

  • Play button – Because this was reminding them of a video encore of the webinar.
  • Arrow – To draw the eye to the subject line
  • Skull & Crossbones – Because the Black Friday Bootcamp offer had a pirate them last year. 🙂

You can find a symbol for just about any circumstance using the glyph search tool here.

Unicode Symbol Search for Email marketing

Don’t overuse Unicode symbols but don’t ignore them either — they can lead to a substantial lift in email open rates.

Another proven way to stand out in the email inbox is to personalize the subject line using the recipients first name.

For example the urgency based subject line…

You’re about to miss out…

Could be personalized using the first name to say…

Rich, you’re about to miss out…

This personalized version will almost certainly outperform the generic version.

Email Marketing Trick #3 – Finally Get Value from Google+

A friend of mine said recently…

“Google+ is like a gym membership.  Everybody signs up but nobody ever goes.”

Well… now you can get some real value from Google+ in just a few short minutes with this process.

By the end of this trick you’ll have your smiling face appearing in Gmail inboxes like this…


Or, perhaps you’ll want your company logo to appear like this…

Google+ Email

This is done by simply verifying your email address with your Google+ account.

This has a big impact for a minimal amount of effort if a large percentage of your subscribers are using Gmail.  As an example, at the time of this writing, ~50% of our list is using Gmail.

Secondly, Google has released a new type of email service called Google Inbox — which they are claiming is “More than Email.”

By verifying your email using this process — you’ll find that your emails in Google Inbox display with your fancy icon (your headshot or logo) and not some generic letter…

Sending email to Google Inbox

So, how do you verify your email address with Google+?

Google has a quick step-by-step process you can use to make it happen here.

Email Marketing Trick #4 – Optimize the “Second Subject Line”

When your email hits the recipients inbox they will see 3 things in most email programs…

  • The From Line
  • The Subject Line
  • The Second Subject Line

Optimizing the second subject line will have a major impact on your email open rates.

Here’s an example of the second subject line done wrong…

The Second Subject Line Done Wrong

These email subject lines make two mistakes:

  1. It isn’t compelling – There is nothing here that persuades me to open the email.
  2. It screams promotional email – Not only is it not compelling… it does further damage by making it painfully clear that this is a mass, promotional email.  I mean… when was the last time your buddy sent you an email with the words “To view this email as a web page…“?!

Now, let’s look at the second subject line done right…

The Second Subject Line Done Right

Let’s take a closer look at the two subject lines in the top example:

  • First subject lineThe Juggernaut Method (Sales Jumped by 30%) – This is a curiosity based or “Blind” subject line.  You might be curious as to what the heck The Juggernaut Method is after reading this first subject line.
  • Second subject line – How Freak Training Increased Sales by 30% With One Simple Funnel Tweak –  This second subject line is a bit more direct or benefit based. So, when we miss with the first subject line with some subscribers — the second subject line will persuade some percentage of people to open up.

Some email providers like Maropost allow you to designate how the second subject line should read.  But, if your provider doesn’t have this feature —  follow this tutorial to add the code to your email template.

Email Marketing Trick #5 – Avoid “The Purge”

Here’s the problem…

Almost half of us check our email first thing in the morning using our phone (I know I do this and my wife hates it!)…

Avoid the Morning Email Purge

But these people don’t plan to respond or read or engage with email while lying there in bed.

The plan is to clean out the Inbox before they get to the office.

You don’t want to be part of this morning purge ritual — deliver your email later in the morning  or in the afternoon and (if possible) deliver it based on the time zone of the recipient.  After all, when folks in California are taking their first sip of coffee, East Coasters are headed to lunch.

Email Marketing Trick #6 – Give them 4 Bites at the Apple

Here’s a good rule of thumb…

For every email — include 4 links.

Can it be three links?  Sure.  Can it be five links?  Yep.

Just remember that — within reason, more links lead to more clicks.

But this is critical:  give the reader a DIFFERENT reason to click with each link.

Notice how we mix it up with this email…

How many links in an email?

In the example above we give the reader four different reasons to click…

  • Link 1 – Curiosity
  • Link 2 – Benefit
  • Link 3 – Scarcity
  • Link 4 – Social Proof

After all, if the curiosity based call-to-action didn’t work in the intro, why would a second curiosity based call-to-action work?

Try leading with tremendous PROOF and then hit them with some SCARCITY… then follow it with a touch of CURIOSITY and hint at the BENEFIT in the P.S.

Whatever you do, make sure you mix it up… and watch your click-through rates soar.

(NOTE: For more on email structure, read this:  A Simple Approach to Writing High Converting Emails)

Email Marketing Trick #7 – Use “Click Triggers”

Here’s 6 easy ways to cue the click in your email body copy.

(Note: I’ve used examples of these Click Triggers from the promotional emails we sent to sell our email marketing product, The Machine.)

  • Pose a benefit-driven question – Example:  How do our high-converting, follow-up email templates work? 
  • Connect proof with product – ExampleThe Machine Boosts Conversion Rate by 34%.  See how here: [LINK]
  • Prime them to give the yes – Example – Do you want more conversions?  Do you want to optimize email marketing?  Do you need templates to create emails quickly?  [LINK]
  • Show them their “New Self” – Example – With The Machine, you will know how to write emails that convert prospects.
  • Expose Yourself To Gain Trust – Example – In our promotion of The Machine, Ryan Deiss tells the story of a time that he made a huge mistake by failing to save money to pay a 6-figure tax bill.  By revealing something personal and human about himself, it lowers the reader’s resistance and generates clicks.
  • Take something away – Example If you don’t want to make more money from your email list, don’t click this link. [LINK]

Email Marketing Trick #8 – Press Play

When people see a play button — they click it.

The trick here is to use an image of a video player in your email that has the play button clearly displayed.  Link that image to your landing page.

Very simple… and very effective.

It looks like this…

An email with a video in it

Email Marketing Trick #9 – Animate Your Email

This is a super powerful way to increase clicks.

Yep… animated gifs aren’t just for cat memes anymore.  Use them in your emails — particularly when you need to show the subscriber a process or a demo.

Link the animated gif image to your landing page in the email.

We used this animated gif to show a process that the reader would get access to if they clicked on the links in the email…

And this one to show the inside of a resource we were promoting as a Lead Magnet

Animatd Gif 2

Another extremely powerful way to animate your email is by employing a countdown timer.

If you want to inject some serious scarcity and urgency into an email… you can use a timer like this…

Animated Coundown Timer in an Email

Don’t overuse countdown timers but when you need to communicate the urgency of losing out on offers like…

  • Flash Sales
  • Special Events
  • Early Bird Pricing

… you’ll see a huge spike in email clicks by using an animated countdown timer.

The timer you see displayed above is called OuttaTimr and you can grab a copy of it here.  Or, if you are a Digital Marketer Lab member, you have free access to this timer software in the Facebook Flash Sale Execution Plan.

Email Marketing Trick #10 – Use a Faux Survey

This is another sneaky email tactic you shouldn’t use every day… or every month for that matter.

But when you need an incredibly high click-through rate on your email — pull this out of your bag of sneaky email tricks.

It’s called the Faux Survey and it looks like this…


And here’s another format of the Faux Survey…

Example Survey in an Email

(PRO TIP: We segmented the list by which magazine they clicked on and used each magazine’s media kit to learn more about these customers)

and here’s another…

Email Survey

No matter which link you click on in these surveys — you’ll be taken to the same landing page.

The key is to make that landing page relevant to the survey and then transition to your call-to-action — whether it’s an opt-in or a purchase.

Use this trick for good (not evil) and you’ll be able to bust it out once in a while to get a massive surge in clicks.

Email Marketing Trick #11 – Perform List Hygiene

Ok, so this one isn’t as fun and sexy as some of the others — but it may be the most important.

List hygiene is absolutely critical to your Engagement Score… which is critical to getting email delivered to the inbox… which is critical to getting opens, clicks, leads, sales, puppy dogs, rainbows, ice cream and everything else that is wonderful in this world.

To clean your list, remove the following from your email list…

  • * Duplicate contacts – Having the same email on the same list multiple times.
  • * Typo’s & Fake Emails – Addresses like or
  • * Hard & Soft Bounces – Remove hard bounces immediately, but be more lenient on soft bounces.
  • Alias, Role & Admin Emails – email that is checked by a group of people like  Let these slide unless you are having a serious issue with deliverability.
  • ALL “Spam” Addresses – Any address with the word spam in it such as should be immediately removed.
  • * Unsubscribes and Complaints – It should go without saying but be sure to remove people that are unsubscribing and hitting the Spam button in their email program.
  • Inactive Subscribers – You won’t want to hear this but subscribers that haven’t opened or clicked in over 90 days, need to be reengaged or removed.  They are killing your Engagement Score and are negatively effecting your ability to reach subscribers that are engaged.  (If you are a Digital Marketer Lab member, use the 9-Part Email Subscriber Win Back Campaign templates to reengage your subscribers.

Most 3rd party email service providers (AWeber, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, etc) will handle the removal of these email addresses.  

If you are managing your own email servers, use a company like Email Delivered to help keep your list clean.

And here are a few more tools for the serious email marketer…

  • Tower Data – Gives you more information about your subscribers… most importantly whether the email addresses are valid.  We use this service once a month to “scrub” our entire Inactive list before running the before mentioned Email Subscriber Win Back Campaign.
  • Mail Monitor App – Gives data on deliverability including how your email is performing by email provider, ISP and whether you are appearing on email blacklists.
  • SenderScore – Your Sender Score is kind of like a credit score for your reputation as a bulk emailer.

Phew!  That’s it, folks… it’s your turn.

Richard Lindner

Richard Lindner

Co-Founder at DigitalMarketer,, Traffic & Conversion Summit and Host of the Ready to Lead Podcast

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