Boost Your Email Open Rates

Email Marketing & The Art of The Resend: How A Second Inbox Impression Can Boost Your Email Open Rates


Email inboxes are busy places. More businesses than not are playing the email marketing game, which makes it vital to have a killer strategy in place for even the slightest chance to stand-out.

Unfortunately, the email campaign cards don’t align all the time. Occasionally, it doesn’t matter how good your inbox reputation is or how catchy your subject line reads—a portion of your target audience just doesn’t open it or doesn’t care enough to convert.

But if at first you don’t succeed...give that email a facelift and send it through one more time.

Here’s how to resend your email blasts the right way, to capture the attention of audience members that may have missed out during the first go around without annoying them.

But email resends even really make a difference?

At Altos, we’d argue that a resend can certainly have a positive impact on the campaign--and our clients at the Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center would agree.

A big part of the Donation Center’s day-to-day is reaching out to communities in Massachusetts & New Hampshire requesting material donations (clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.). Many of these requests come in the form of email blasts to the DC’s network of previous and potential donors.

Typically, the goal of each email campaign is to encourage audiences to schedule a donation pickup. In other words, a major KPI here is the number of pickups scheduled per email.

What we learned over the course of our partnership is that a solid resend can have a big impact on the number of scheduled pickups. We got into the habit of sending an email with the idea for a resend not far from our minds.

Let’s see what that strategy got us numbers-wise…

Last December, we sent out an email to the Donation Center mailing list with the CTA “DONATE NOW.” We managed to get 155 donation pickups scheduled out of the send. Not bad right?

But we knew we could probably push those results a little further. In January, we decided to resend the exact same email with a new subject line. Thanks to the resend, we generated 131 more pickups, almost doubling the original results.

pickups scheduled dec 2019

If you think that example is compelling enough to get you onboard with a resend strategy, wait until you hear this next example.

In March, we sent out a similar email to the Donation Center mailing list, this time focusing on donation pickups as an easy, contact-free method of giving back to the community. After the first send, 267 pickups were scheduled. But after the second send? The resend beat the original by a hair, generating 270 pickups.

pickups scheduled mar 2020

The Guide To A Proper Resend

The great thing about scheduling an email resend: you’ve already gotten the hardest part of the process out of the way. The copy has been written, the email has been designed—all that’s left is just a few scheduling considerations and a couple tweaks to whip the message into shape for its second trip around the web.

But before jumping right into the step-by-step, keep in mind a few potential reasons why a recipient might not want to open or engage with your message—or, more importantly, why they didn’t the first time.

Scenario #1:

They did not see it. The message was buried under emails from other senders and yours got lost in the shuffle...or perhaps their eyes brushed right over the subject line without taking much notice.

Scenario #2:

They saw your email, but didn’t open it. Possible factors for this outcome: they weren’t intrigued by the subject line or were put off by what the name they saw as the sender.

Scenario #3:

They opened it, but weren’t ready to convert just yet. This could have been an issue of timing, copy that was not convincing enough, or both. Whatever reason, the recipient opened the email and was not compelled enough by what they saw to engage with your call-to-action.

Of course, this list does not encompass every possibility under the sun. But by using these common outcomes to inform your resend strategy, you can cater to one, if not all of these scenarios. Here’s how.

Step 1: Decide What Stays & What Goes

When you want to give an email an extra push with a resend, you’re not going to want to send the exact same message a second time. Odds are, there was something about the email that wasn’t vibing with a fraction of your audience members.

Plus, why give up the opportunity to experiment with something different that could help your email strategy down the road?

Any of the features that make up an email message are fair game:

  • Subject line
  • Preview text
  • Sender name
  • Visuals (images, layout)
  • Email copy
  • CTAs
  • Send date & time

When we resend emails on behalf of the Donation Center, the original feature that gets the chop most frequently is the subject line. It’s what our recipients see first—and our thinking is that, if some users were uninterested in opening, chances are that the subject line had something to do with it. Consequently, we head into the creation of the original email thinking about alternative subject lines to use for the resend.

Our advice: create multiple subject line options straight out the gate. From there, you can choose your favorite and save the second best for the resend.

We also avoid resending at the same date and time as the original email. There’s a strong likelihood that anyone who doesn’t open the email has lost it among the inbox clutter, and one way of getting around that is to send when other organizations most likely aren’t. Without a way to concretely figure out what those times might be, trial and error is the next best option. The resend is another trial opportunity to get you closer to identifying your most effective send times.

The other features listed above are viable options too. Just take care not to change too much about the original email. At that point, it’s not a resend—it’s a brand new message.

Step 2: Adjust/Segment The Original Mailing List

It probably goes without saying that you shouldn’t resend to anyone who successfully listened to you the first time. Since reusing your original mailing list is out of the picture, it’s more worthwhile to spend your time building (or segmenting) a new one.

There are two main groups of users you should focus on during this process:

  • Those who didn’t open your original email,
  • Those who opened your original email but didn’t convert

The “did not open” group consists of the most ideal candidates for a resend; no harm in giving them one last chance to view your message.

The “did not convert” group, however, is a little trickier to deal with. There could be people in this group who were interested but not yet ready to convert. There could also be people in this group who didn’t give your message a thorough review, but would be interested in converting if they had. Unfortunately, there are also people in this group who viewed your email and just weren’t interested, period. Resending to the “did not convert” group, therefore, is hit or miss—the “miss” here being aggravating a portion of your target audience.

Our advice: Tread lightly when it comes to the “did not convert” segment of your mailing list. You might want to give them another push in a handful of your resends, but might want to avoid including this group on every single second round send.

There’s also a third group that could contain viable resend candidates: those who have not opened/engaged with several of your previous emails. The delinquent users on your mailing list might respond well to being thrown another bone. If not, the worst thing they could do is unsubscribe, which is’t really all that much of a loss at that point.

Step 3: Give Your Audience Time To Open The First Send

There isn’t a one size fits all recommendation for this particular issue. The best duration to put between an original send and a resend will depend on your industry and the subject matter of your message.

For example, if you’re promoting an event, you might want to coordinate your resend with the date of said event—even if that means resending a day later or a week later.

However, if you don’t need to create a sense of urgency for an upcoming event, try to put at least 24 hours between your resend and original message. In fact, we’d probably use 2-3 days as a rule of thumb (with the disclaimer that this is always subject to change depending on your industry & subject matter).

Our advice: when it doubt, test it out. If you’re unsure how much time to leave between your first and second sends, experiment with different timelines and see what schedule your audience responds to.

Need A Second Opinion On Your Second Sends?

When your new and improved email is ready, add it to your schedule, see what happens, and use those insights to return to the drawing board. As is the case with many areas of marketing, the art of the resend is a mastery of trial and error so don’t get discouraged if your resends are getting you where you’d like to be!

But if your resends leave you scratching your head a little too often for your liking, we’re always happy to take what we’ve gleaned from clients like the Donation Center and use it to make your emails worth a second try. Whenever you need another set of eyes...let's do lunch.