How to Improve Email Open Rates

On average around 250 billion emails are sent every single day; 80 percent of which are pure spam. Therefore, people are predisposed to ignore many emails, without even considering the content.

One of the major challenges for marketers is to increase their open rates, or in other words, their ability to persuade people to open their emails.

What are the opening rates? 

Open rate is a measure of how many people on an email list open (or view) a particular email. Email marketing providers, like iContact, Benchmark Email, Constant Contact, Pinpointe, and others, automatically add a code to the email, so when a reader opens the email, it downloads a really tiny image from their servers, which allows them to track who has opened it. However, if the reader does not allow or has not activated the option to view HTML and images, this tracking method won't work. Therefore, the open rate is not 100% accurate.

Why should you care?

According to eMarketer, 97% of small businesses use email marketing as the primary method to connect with customers or prospects. Moreover, by increasing the open rates and optimizing its email marketing, in the long run, a company will be able to:
  1. Increase inquiries, leads, and sales
  2. Build ongoing relationships with prospects
  3. Communicate frequently with existing customers/clients

Where to start? 

People support their decision to read or ignore an email in 3 critical areas: the from the line, the subject line, and the preview pane.

1. Give your "from" a personal touch 

Personalize the sender of your emails, studies have shown that by using the name of an employee or the CEO the open rates will increase. Furthermore, avoid only using a first name, as spammers use this tactic, (usually with a female name).

2. Spice up your subject line 

Keep your subject line short, fewer than 50 characters, unless you aim for highly targeted audiences. Avoid using words like “free," which triggers spam filters, Help, Percent off, and Reminder. Additionally, avoid using promotional phrases, CAPS, or exclamation marks in your subject lines. Do not include the email recipient’s name in the subject line, as it often indicates that it is a sales message. Localization helps, so if you are marketing locally, use the city name in the subject line. Spice up your headlines, according to Mailchimp repeating the exact same subject line for each newsletter accelerates the drop in open rates.

Make it urgent and hard to ignore, when you’re your subject line is time-sensitive or quantity-bound; you will get their interest. You can also communicate fear of loss, which will get them to read your email to know what it is all about. Create curiosity, by starting a phrase in the subject line and continuing in the body. Adults remember unfinished tasks up to 90% better than finished ones. Therefore, we have an intrinsic need for closure. The tension and seeking for closure that an unfinished idea creates is known as the Zeirgarnik effect.

3. Do not forget the preview pane

Many focus on the subject line and ignore the ability of people to see a preview of the email. This is a critical space; it is the first thing the recipient sees and on which he or she bases his or her decision. The preview should retain attention, and be clear about the content of the email and call-to-action. Get the important content up to the top.

4. Timing 

This will depend a lot on your audience, so it will take a lot of trial and error. Nevertheless, I will help you with some statistics. Aweber recently released data compiled from all of its users. According to the results and contrary to the belief of many, the hour that has the highest open rate (19,1%) is not in the morning but at 2-3PM Eastern time. The day of the week which sends the largest number of newsletters is Wednesday, which represents 16.9% of total newsletters, which is equivalent to the number of emails sent during the weekend. Excluding the weekend, Tuesday is the day that represents the lowest number of emails, 13.2%.

Now it's your decision, whether to send an email when all are posting or if the skills are lower. However, as I mentioned before every audience is different and some may prefer to receive a message on Saturday since they can read quietly ... as others prefer to read their personal messages at midday at work.

5. Try resending emails 

Sometimes people accidentally overlook certain emails in their inbox, or they may plan to open an email but simply forget. Resending your email to these people almost guarantees an increased open rate.

Even so, initially wait some days, after 4-5 days you are good to go, change the subject line or add a phrase that implies you are resending it, in case he missed it the first time, in order that your subscriber won't get two exact emails.

6. Frequency

There is a greater chance that the email of your company to be read if the recipient is waiting. Therefore, it is very important to maintain a constant frequency. But yet if you send too many emails to people, they will start ignoring you, but if you send very few of them, they will start forgetting you. Which is the ideal frequency? It depends on your audience, but if you can give them the option to choose the frequency at which they would like to receive your newsletter, do it.

7. Get your email delivered 

As we mentioned before there is a lot of spam out there, the reason why servers are forced to use several spam filters that even affect legitimate emails, so avoid using:
  • Excessive punctuation
  • Spam words like free, guarantee, amazing, offer cash, etc.
  • Spam phrases like, “Act now," “Click Here," “Special Promotion," and “Once in a lifetime opportunity!" “Eliminate Debt," “Million Dollars," etc.
  • Large font size

8. Refine sign-up procedures and targeting

As your list grows over time, your open rate will decrease unless you cannot target your audience to provide them with content that will engage them. Build mechanisms that allow you to understand and know your readers. Use surveys and all information you already got from them.

Reader's interest in your emails depends on how targeted your audience is. If what you are sending matches their interests the more likely, they will read them. Thus establishing the ability to subscribe to your newsletters and ensure that you set expectations correctly, so people sign up because they want what you send out. Also, Stay away from adding people to your list without their consent. Do not forget to your subscribers to add you to their contacts.

Finally, if you want to know what is a good open rate in your industry, I recommend you download:
Epsilon's Email Trend and Benchmark Report

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