Are you sick of sending email campaigns that just aren’t being opened? Are you wondering what you can specifically do to improve open rates for future campaigns? While there are many factors which contribute to achieving the best possible open rates; there are a some that are absolutely critical to the success of your campaigns.
Here are 7 effective ways to improve email open rates:
1. Get the Subject Line Right.
Subject lines are more important than many businesses realize. In fact, “47% of email recipients open email based on the subject line whereas 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.”
You don’t have to fool anyone about what’s inside. In fact, you shouldn’t. Your email subject lines should simply tell customers what to expect. Just be honest about what readers will find when they open your emails, and you’re more likely to increase your open rates over time.
That’s not to say that your subject lines have to be completely boring and lack creativity. Just be genuine with your creativity, instead of using it to mask what the email is actually about.
Here are some basic rules to follow:
- Keep your email subjects simple. The less complex and more direct, the better.
- Don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS and/or lots of punctuation!! It’s too much, right? Who wants to open an email with this subject line?
- Be transparent. Tell your users what your email is about. Don’t be sneaky.
- Be personal. Including the recipient’s name in the subject line may increase the likelihood of the email being opened by 22%.
- Don’t use buzzwords. Including certain overused buzzwords like “free”, “help”, “reminder”, etc. is likely to decrease your open rates.
- Offer relevant incentives. Offer freebies, discounts or other incentives to give users a reason to read the email.
- Don’t forget to A/B test. Look at open rates for different subject lines and compare results.
- Be mobile-friendly. Ensure your subject lines can be read on any device. Make them short and to the point (under 30 characters).
Need more help with your subject lines? Try Maligen’s Subject Line tester. As they describe it, it’s “the only subject line A/B testing tool that predicts open and click results of your email campaign without actually sending it.”
2. Avoid Ending Up in the Spam Folder.
According to a 2015 Study by ReturnPath, “only about 79% of permission-based emails sent by legitimate email marketers reach the inbox. That sounds pretty discouraging, right? However, if you simply follow the rules for email best practices, it’s not that hard to stay out of your customers’ spam folders.
Most spam filters will automatically send sketchy-looking emails directly to the spam folder. The criteria for spam is set by a variety of rules – such as suspicious formatting, image-to-text ratio, missing information (address and unsubscribe options), incorrect code, etc. – the evaluation of which results in overall spam score. If your email score is higher than the acceptable score, then it will be flagged as spam, and you can kiss the chances of your email being opened goodbye.
Another way to increase the likelihood of your email reaching its intended recipient is to use personalized metadata. Spam filters are more likely to let your emails through if you appear to have a personal connection with the recipient. Use merge tags to include the recipient’s name in the subject line, and don’t forget to ask readers to add your email to their address book. Overall, it’s important to be as consistent and genuine as possible to avoid the dreaded spam folder.
There are tools that can scan your email before it is sent to determine if it is spammy, and that will also tell you the risk is of it ending up in the spam folder. ISnotSPAM, mail-tester, and Postmark are just a few examples of such tools.
3. Use the Appropriate Opt-in Method.
Popular email providers strongly recommend the use of the double opt-in method, as it requires subscribers to consciously confirm that they want to receive information from you. Plus, it also gives you a written trail of proof that the recipient willingly subscribed.
If you feel that the double opt-in method isn’t right for your audience, there are a variety other options that can work with a single opt-in. However, it’s important to ensure that whatever opt-in method you use makes it clear to the user what their email address is being used for. Automated thank you emails are another great way to remind recipients that they’ve just signed up to receive additional communications from you.
4. Don’t Buy Email Lists.
This one is pretty straightforward. Most email service providers don’t allow the use of purchased or rented email lists anyway. Plus, the chances that your email will end up in a spam folder are much higher. Or worse, your emails may be reported as abuse. Bounce rates tend to be higher in these situations, and open rates are often very low. They simply aren’t worth the risk. A better way to grow your email list is by using genuine marketing strategies to acquire genuine subscribers.
5. Set Clear Expectations.
When subscribers sign up to receive your communications, it’s important to not only be honest with them about what you’ll be sending them, but also very clear. If they sign up for a newsletter, and they receive coupons or other promotions instead, your open rates are going to tank, and fast.
Again, honestly is the best policy. By being clear from the beginning about what you’ll be emailing and how often, the more trust you’ll build with your subscribers, and the higher your open rates will be. If you decide along the way that you want to send out additional types of content, you can simply let existing subscribers know about it, and ask them if they’d like to sign up.
6. Be Timely.
One of the most important factors in whether your emails are likely to be opened is timeliness. If a subscriber signs up in January for a newsletter, and they don’t receive anything from you until July, your open rates aren’t likely to be high. Instead, consider sending an automated “Thank you for subscribing” email, and/or a “Here’s what to expect” email soon (if not immediately) after they’ve subscribed.
Going forward, be sure to commit to a set schedule, and stick to it. When in doubt, you can always send a reminder email to check on your subscribers and see if they’re still interested in hearing from you as often, or at all.
7. Be Human.
The first thing recipients do when deciding whether or not to open an email is to determine if they have a personal connection with the sender. People like communicating with people, and spam filters are more likely to see an email from a company as advertising, which is more likely to end up getting deleted. If your emails look like they’re coming from a person vs. a company, they have a better chance of being opened.
Let’s do a quick recap. Start with a great subject line, and be sure to follow best practices to avoid the spam filter. Never buy lists, and always apply the appropriate opt-in methods based on your audience. From there, it’s all about being honest and human with your subscribers, and delivering timely and relevant information on a consistent basis. Good luck!
Author Bio: Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, a B2B marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion.