9 Easy Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates

|by Demi Donohoe

You’ve heard the stats by now. Research shows that email marketing is forty times more effective for acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. Yes, forty.

Email marketing is certainly not dead, folks. It still has one of the highest engagement rates and returns on investment of any marketing strategy.

You’ve heard us talking about the importance of catchy subject lines, great content, and effective CTAs.

A great way to check if your email marketing efforts are worth it is to track your email open rates.

What are email open rates?

Email open rates are the percentage of emails that have been opened by your recipients after sending out a campaign.

You can calculate them simply by dividing the number of people who open the email by the number of emails that got delivered.

The number of emails delivered is the number of your emails that reached your subscribers’ inboxes. Obviously, emails that aren’t delivered can’t be opened, which is why this number isn’t included in the percentage.

Once you know your open rates for your recent email campaign, you can compare it to your previous open rates.  You can then see what performs well and what doesn’t.

People are always saying that the money lies in your email list, but what good is a long list of subscribers if hardly any of them actually open your emails?

So, how do you get more people to open your email campaigns?

The key, of course, is to stand out in the inbox.

Here are 9 ways to get your readers opening:

1. Make your subject line beg to be opened

When it comes to increasing your email open rates, your subject line is everything. 

This is the first thing your subscribers will see. Your job is to make it stand out. Try to be as creative, funny, relevant or personalised as you can. Stay away from the generic “November Newsletter”. *Yawn*

Test, test, test! Use A/B testing to your advantage and record your results. Keep sending the subject lines that work and stop sending the ones that don’t!

Here are some we liked from our own inboxes:

  • “Good things come to those who shop!”
  • “Can we tempt you to place an order?”
  • “These new arrivals are veryyy cozy”
  • “Something for everyone”
  • “Did you hear?  It’s ONLINE now too…”

2. Introduce yourself

Don’t be shy!

It’s polite to introduce yourself when you meet someone for the first time. Your emails shouldn’t be any different.

Start as you mean to go on. An automated welcome email – or a series of them – is how you make your first impression. They build relationships with your readers from the get-go, and they set the tone for your future communications.

Welcome email campaigns generally have much higher email open rates. This is your chance to show your audience who you are and what you’re about, so make it count.

Tell your recipients what they can expect from your emails. Let them know how often you’ll be sending them, and the kind of content that they’ll be receiving.

The more transparent you are and the more information you give them about your business, the more likely they are to open your future email campaigns.

3. Make it personal

Make it sound like you’re speaking directly to the subscriber.

If you know their first name, use it. But don’t stop there.

As you would expect, the recipients will be much more likely to open and engage with an email if they feel like you understand them.

It will help you out to have a strong knowledge of your buyer persona. You should know their pain points and their desires, their likes and their dislikes.

  1. More and more businesses are now starting to use artificial intelligence to create highly personalised emails.  That’s because email personalisation works!

4. Create amazing content

Even though the content is inside your actual campaign, it’s still really important for your email open rates.

If your readers feel like the content is relevant and interesting, they’re more likely to engage with it and open your future emails.

If a subscriber doesn’t like your content, your emails could go straight in the trash. Reduce your email unsubscribe rates by creating awesome content that they won’t want to miss.

Include call-to-action buttons to direct them to valuable resources, like eBooks, webinars and blog posts.

The key is to make sure that your readers don’t feel like you only send emails when there’s something in it for you. Give them something back every now and again. The higher the value that your content is to them, the more loyal they will become.

If it’s appropriate for your brand, a great idea is to be funny. Humour can help you to make an instant connection with your customers and your prospects. It will set your brand apart from other companies in their inboxes, and your email open rates will get higher.

5. It’s timely

Day or night? Weekday or weekend?

Email open rates depend a lot on the timing.

Try and stick to the schedule that you committed to in your welcome campaign.

What the best time to send is can be difficult to gauge. Your readers obviously won’t all have the same routines and habits. Test sending your emails at different times and see which achieves the best overall response.

6. Stay out of the spam folder

Another way to improve your email open rates is to avoid your campaigns being labelled as spam.

Spam filters are becoming more and more sophisticated.

It’s no good putting loads of effort and time into crafting the perfect email if it’s only going to end up in the spam folder.

So, you have to avoid sounding too spammy. Try to keep away from using words in your subject line like ‘sale’, ‘reminder’, ‘free’ and ‘x% off’. To learn more best practices for avoiding the spam folder, read our guide on ‘How to Improve Your Email Deliverability Rates‘.

7. Segment your list

Batch and blast is a thing of the past.

Your subscribers aren’t all the same. They have different likes, dislikes and pain points. They’re also different ages, from different locations and have different behaviours.

Segmentation helps you to personalise your marketing and to narrow your audience.

Create meaningful segments and communicate with them accordingly. Look at your email metrics to see which content your subscribers have engaged with in the past. Without segmenting, you can’t offer relevant, tailor-made content to your readers.

An email marketing platform can help you to segment your list.

You can add tags based on behaviour, such as their purchase behaviour. This way, you can send different emails to paying customers than the ones you would send to new leads, who haven’t bought anything yet.

You could even go one step further and send different emails based on specific products that your customers have purchased.

The more relevant your campaigns are, the higher your email open rates will be.

8. Keep your list clean

Do your subscribers still want to hear from you?

On a regular basis, you should remove inactive subscribers from your list or emails with a hard bounce.

An inactive subscriber could be anyone who hasn’t engaged with any of your emails in the last six months or so.

Sometimes, people may change email accounts, or maybe they just aren’t that into you anymore.

However, before you get rid of them for good, you should try sending a re-engagement email to see if there’s any way you can keep hold of them.

Alternatively, you could check back with your subscribers once in a while.  Ask them if they want to update their information or their preferences.

Understanding your audience is critical to getting the email open rates that you want.

9. Be mobile-friendly

More than half of all internet traffic now comes from a mobile device.

You simply can’t afford to ignore your mobile readers. If your company’s emails don’t read well on a mobile, then you’re in trouble.

It’s now easier than ever to simply swipe and delete an email. It’s essential to make sure that your emails translate well.

Nothing will make a subscriber look for an exit option quicker than an email that’s distorted and difficult to read.

Consider the facts that mobile screens are obviously smaller, and less of your subject lines will be viewable.

When your emails display well on a mobile, your email rates will improve.

Using an email marketing platform will tell you the devices which your emails are being viewed on.

Watch your email open rates increase

Stay away from the same approach that everyone else uses. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques.

Get creative, and step outside of your comfort zone. And remember, keep testing!

Do you need help with your email marketing? Get in touch.

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