Improving Email Open Rates

Email open rates are often the key metric used when discussing the effectiveness of an email campaign; you obviously need them to open your email before they can perform any result action(s). Without an open, there is no close; click, call, purchase, view, download etc.

So called ‘experts’ suggest a ‘GOOD OPEN RATE’ is somewhere between 15% & 25% for marketing emails; maybe higher for transactional emails. After a few recent ‘25% as a benchmark’ campaigns, I thought to dust of my ‘email marketing 101’ checklist as a means of getting more ‘bang for my buck’ (having been asked by your sales colleagues to ‘GET MORE LEADS’ :-))

However, a note of caution on open rates; it's not that email open rates are entirely useless as a statistic or metric; knowing what you've done AND how you’ve done it will no doubt impact how the campaigns are deemed to be a success or failure HOWEVER … I’ve tended to get the most success when using open rates as a means of comparing one email / campaign against another. As the above article points out, ‘don’t be discouraged if your email tracking software says that your email open rates are very low percentages. It's likely that they aren't as bad as it seems’.

Didn’t have the time or inclination to explain that today although, here’s a few simple, top tips to improve your / my open rates:

  1. CHECK you’re using the most appropriate "From" name and email address. While being reflecting the brand and being relevant to your offer, try to reference the appropriate team / department i.e. ‘sales’ related messages should come from sales@someone.com, a newsletter from news@someone.com or maybe, promotional updates from promotions@someone.com. TICK.

  2. REVIEW the Subject line; keep it short and sweet. Test it on friends or colleagues to get feedback. Don’t mislead - be straightforward, avoid vagaries. You may want to include your company or newsletter name. This certainly makes it easier when you reference back old emails or need to assess the effectiveness of past campaigns or, are hell bent on changing offers from season to season or, from month to month. A reminder of WHO YOU ARE helps (re) establish a certain level of trust between you and the email recipient PLUS, many email programs show only the subject line when viewed on a smartphone, so including the company name is important. TICK (though will try a few different ones as I continue to test & learn).

  3. PERSONALISATION. Where possible, include the recipient's first name and any other pertinent information; location etc

  4. Cut the Crap. Avoid typical spam words (FREE, ACT NOW etc), using plain language where possible – an email caught by a spam filter MAY never be read, so choose your wording wisely. TICK (first names being used).

  5. Copy Writing is a Skill. Try using an incentive to get the recipient to open the email. Imply scarcity to encourage immediate action however avoid putting a date directly into the subject line. It may become out-dated, more quickly that you think. HALF TICK - ALWAYS make some improvements here in the main body of the email(s).

  6. Vary your send times. Rather than 0900 / 1730, try some unconventional send times to see whether you get a boost in open rates; later in the evening or early morning rather than the typical ‘work times’. HALF TICK – will try a few different ones over the coming weeks.

  7. Don’t Bombard Your Audience. Find the right frequency of communications; separate your target list(s) into different groups that might warrant emails at varying frequencies. TICK.

  8. TEST and LEARN. Consider a series of A/B tests; trying different subject lines for example. Establish what works best for your specific situation / target audience. The trick is to be sure your email content and the offer can match your well-constructed subject line, personalization, and all of the front-end work. MASSIVE TICK. I could wax lyrical and often do about the ‘test & learn’ mantra set out in the AutoTrader decree (having worked there for more than three years). A great principle to live – and die – by.

I’ll let you know how it goes.