Before moving to ONTRAPORT several years ago, I did one final analysis of my email open rates before closing down my previous email marketing software account. I won’t mention which autoresponder software I was using, but it was one of the bigger names in the market.

At the time, the average open rate in my main lead nurture email sequence for new subscribers was 22%. The first email started out at around 25% before interest in subsequent emails fizzled to open rates as low as 15%. I remember being particularly happy with one email in the sequence that had an open rate of 32% — my highest open rate by far…

But that was several years ago.

There were many reasons why I decided to move to ONTRAPORT — but far and away the deciding factor was its powerful segmentation and automation capabilities.

Why Segmentation

If you do a lot of email marketing and have researched various platforms, you may have seen that some email marketing software companies have started throwing the word ‘segmentation’ around, but the level of segmentation in typical platforms — and automation based off that segmentation — leaves a lot to be desired.

As you know, not everyone who visits your website does so for the same reason; they don’t all have exactly the same situation or problems they want to solve. They also don’t have the same interests or the same experience level in your niche. Each visitor needs information that’s relevant to his or her specific needs.

Hypertarget Every Lead

I’ve created this in-depth tutorial video (above) to show you a simple yet effective way to start segmenting your subscribers the instant they sign up for some free information. Using custom fields, you’ll segment based on their interests, preferences or any criteria you want.

This allows you to instantly identify each individual’s biggest pain points, interests and any other information you’ll want to obtain so that you can help them solve their problems more effectively.

If you do this right, when a person signs up to your list, you’re in a position to give each person the most highly targeted content you have. As a result, you will get higher email open rates, click through rates, and ultimately more sales.

Once you gather this extra data on each new subscriber, you can set up Rules in ONTRAPORT to add subscribers to various lead nurture Sequences based on their biggest problems and interests.

Get Stellar Open Rates

Here are the open rates I am getting right now in one of my segmented lead nurture sequences as a result of using this method:

email sequence open rates

As you can see, my click through rate is now almost as high as my email open rate was before I started using ONTRAPORT. Because my lead nurture sequence is a series of videos, the click through rate is everything.

But we don’t stop there! Doing the following will get your open and click through rates even higher:

  1. Send reminder emails to people who didn’t open each email. This works extremely well — I actually receive emails every day from people apologizing for having not watched the last video I sent them!
  2. Split test email headlines — very easy to do in ONTRAPORT.
  3. Split test email body content. For instance, I’ve learned having a link closer to the top of the email helps the click through rate.
  4. Use PURLs in ONTRAPORT (Personal URL links), which link to an ONTRAPage (ONTRAPORT Landing Page). These PURLS include the subscriber’s first name at the start of the link, which boosts click through rates.
  5. Use an image of a video thumbnail and link to the Landing Page with the video on it.

In the video tutorial in this article, I’ll show you exactly how you can segment your list to start immediately serving up hot content for your subscribers from day one.

Bonus: Winning Email Subject Lines

These headlines got me my best email open rates. Model and adapt these into your own marketing funnels:

email open rate boosted by marketing automation

Some important points on the above headlines:

  1. Please don’t expect the same results as the above open rates by using these headlines. Many other factors must be taken into consideration — e.g., the context of the situation when a contact receives each email, the health of your list, and so on.
  2. Using the recipient’s first name in the headline boosts open rates usually, but don’t use their name in every single email or it will lose its effect.
  3. Don’t use misleading headlines that trick people into opening your emails.
  4. Shorter headlines work much better: I usually aim for six words or less (usually four).
  5. Spend 30 to 60 minutes to set up version B headlines. Some tests will fail, but over time you will boost your headlines by 10, 20, even 50%!

Smaller email lists are often much more engaged than larger ones. Back when my average email open rate in my main lead nurture sequence was 22%, my list was only several thousand.

These days I get several thousand new email subscribers every month, and I maintain extremely high open rates by scaling personal attention by segmenting and using custom merge fields in emails.

An example of using one of your custom merge fields that you created in an email would be: “Since your biggest challenge right now is [insert merge field: biggest challenge here], now is the perfect time for you to consider this offer.”

Using custom merge fields in emails allows you to further personalize your messages and is very powerful, especially when combined with list segmentation.


So now I encourage you to start plotting how to segment your list. I assure you that it will lead to higher engagement and potentially much higher sales than the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Luke Ward – Founder of Automation XL

luke ward automation

One of Luke Ward’s biggest passions is creating intelligent marketing funnels for his own businesses and for his clients. Having used ONTRAPORT to run his own online company for the last few years, he became an ONTRAPORT Certified Consultant to help others and to further advance his knowledge of marketing and business automation. You can find more tips from Luke at

automation ontraport certified consultants

How Personalized Content Will Get You Better Email Open Rates
Article Name
How Personalized Content Will Get You Better Email Open Rates
Luke Ward of AutomationXL dives into how he boosted his email open rates by 95% with his foolproof segmentation technique. Do the same in your business.
Publisher Name
Publisher Logo

About Guest Voices

ONTRAPORT Guest Voices showcases content from a collection of featured writers, experts, and industry leaders.