HVAC Email Marketing: Two Steps to Boosting Open and Click-Through Rates
You’re sending emails, but your subscribers aren’t opening them. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
According to MailChimp, the baseline open and click-through rates for “professional services” (HVAC companies) are 20.89% and 2.47%, respectively.
Want those numbers to go up?
We can show you the way.
The emails we create for HVAC clients often have open rates of 23–27% and click-through rates of 3–5%. Some CTRs get as high as 12%!
In this article, we’ll show you how to:
1. Improve click-through rates by creating relevant, goal-driven content that educates (not sells).
2. Improve open rates by writing subject lines using 3 key psychological principles.
Learn more about HVAC email marketing in our post, “HVAC Email Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide”.
Step #1: Create relevant, goal-driven content that educates (not sells)
Your click-through rate depends on the value of your email content. The more valuable your audience finds your content, the higher your click-through rate will be.
When we do email marketing for clients, we follow this process:
1. Determine a business goal. What you want your email marketing to achieve? Try to pick a goal that makes sense with the season. Most of our clients have goals like “increase AC tune-ups this summer” or “get more heat pump installs this winter”.
2. Educate customers with content that ties to the goal (without being too salesy). How can you educate people about a topic to help you reach your goal?
Let’s take our example goal “increase AC tune-ups this summer”. The benefit of an AC tune-up is a healthy AC unit. You might write content to educate people on ways you can accidentally kill your AC or how regular maintenance prevents costly repairs. Once you explain the topic, you can create a call-to-action (CTA) to schedule a tune-up.
For example, MSP wanted to increase their number of water heater flushes. To do that, we created content to educate people about one sign that leads to the death of a water heater:
And here’s the click-through rate for it (remember, the industry baseline is 2.47%):
Here’s an example of one we did to help CoolToday get more dryer vent cleanings:
Here’s the click-through rate for it:
It also helps to run A/B tests on your content (keeping an eye on click-through rates) to gauge what kind of information your audience finds most valuable.
Step #2: Write subject lines using 3 key psychological principles
Your email open rate depends heavily on your subject line, since that’s the first thing your audience sees. An eye-catching subject line can make the difference between your reader opening an email and skimming right passed it.
The best way to boost email open rates is to write subject lines using these three psychological principles:
- Make the reader curious
- Keep it short
- Use loss aversion
Let’s go into how each principle plays off the way our minds work.
Tip #1: Make the reader curious
Curiosity stems from the information gap theory: A gap between what we know and what we want to know. This lack of knowledge creates a mental “itch” that causes us to seek out how we can scratch it.
If you can create mystery, or create this “itch”, with your subject lines, bingo! You’re on the road better open rates.
That being said, don’t get overly creative with subject lines. That will just confuse your audience and bring you back to low open rates. Pique curiosity, but make sure the benefit is clear.
When we create emails for HVAC clients, we often do an A/B test (a test comparing two variations of one element) on subject lines to see which tactics perform better.
Here are A/B test results on a newsletter we created for George Brazil:
See how the more curious subject line got a higher open rate? The first subject line says what will happen (save $$$) if you do those four things, but the second subject line doesn’t. It adds mystery and makes the audience seek the answer.
So, how can you create curiosity around your subject lines? Here are a few suggestions:
- Explain the pain or benefit, but be ambiguous about the solution. For example, “This thermostat trick helps clean your home” implies that there’s a problem (dirty home) and benefit (“clean your home”), but “this thermostat trick” doesn’t give away the exact solution. It causes the reader to “scratch the itch” and find out exactly how you can solve their problem.
- Ask a question. Questions pique curiosity and encourage the reader to find out the answer. A good place to start is to ask a question that someone might ask Google and hint that you have the answer. Like we did with this subject line: “ON vs. AUTO: Which thermostat setting wastes more money?” That one usually gets great open rates for our clients.
- Create list articles. Telling your audience “I can make your life easier/save you money in this many ways” piques curiosity—they want to know how. Plus, numbers help your subject line stand out among the mass of words in their inbox.
Tip #2: Keep it short
We feel better about shorter subject lines and are therefore more likely to open them. Here’s why.
Our brains process information in one of two thinking modes:
- System 1: Operates quickly and automatically with little or no effort, which creates cognitive ease. We associate positive feelings with this mode because we don’t have to put effort into processing information.
- System 2: Operates consciously and pays attention to detail, which leads to cognitive strain. We associate negative feelings with this mode because we have a harder time processing complex information. We enter this mode when information is too complex to process system 1.
When there’s little information to process—like there is with short subject lines—we process it easier. And feel better about doing so.
Although, you can still get a good open rate with longer subject lines by frontloading the topic in 1–2 relevant words, like we did with this one for Santa Fe Air Conditioning & Heating:
Another reason to keep subject lines short is to improve readability. Anything longer than 30–40 characters will get cut off on a mobile device, which is where 50% of people read their email.
Tip #3: Use loss aversion
In short, the
loss aversion theory holds that losses loom larger than gains—almost twice as much! So losing $10 feels as bad as gaining $20 feels good.
So, we’re more likely to act when we perceive we will lose something.
Urgency is a type of loss aversion. That’s why you see all of those “Hurry! Offer ends tonight” and “Last chance to save!” subject lines. The sender is playing on your need to not miss out/lose something.
Advanced Air has several great examples of using loss aversion in subject lines.
See how the subject line with the bigger potential loss got higher a higher open rate?
Here’s one that uses loss aversion with curiosity (and frontloads the topic):
This one is an excellent example of knowing your target (in Advanced Air’s case, Floridians) to use loss aversion:
Does your email marketing need a boost?
We’ve been helping HVAC companies with their marketing for more than 14 years. Give us a call at (800) 339-7305 or contact us today.