Email marketing still has one of the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) when compared to other marketing strategies, with an expected average return of $32 for every dollar spent. This is mainly because of the low costs of creating email lists and sending out emails, which makes it one of the cheapest and fastest ways to increase your company’s reach and ROI. In fact, the majority of businesses, 69% to be exact, use email marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. Additionally, 81% and 80% of small and midsize businesses rely on email marketing as their primary driver for customer acquisition and retention for their company.
There’s no doubt that email marketing is still very much alive and kicking. The key to success for your business’ promotional efforts, however, is to find a way to stand out from the crowd. As it can be noisy in your customers’ inboxes. After all, the number of consumer and business emails sent daily in 2018 is estimated to be more than 281 billion. How do you make sure your emails get delivered, opened and read in such a highly pressured environment?
What Is an Email Open Rate?
One very important way to measure the success of your email campaigns is to track your email open rates. This is the percentage of emails that get opened from the ones that are delivered.
To calculate the average open rate of an email campaign you need to divide the number of opened emails by the number of delivered emails with that campaign and multiply it by 100. This means you will not be including the number of sent emails that bounced off, i.e. failed to reach their recipients. These emails cannot be opened, so they’re not calculated into the open rate percentage.
If, for example, you’ve sent 100 emails, 10 of them bounced, and 10 got open, your email campaign open rate will be 11%, as 10 divided by 90 and multiplied by 100 is 11.11.
To calculate the average email open rate across all your email campaigns, simply add up all your open rates and divide them by their number.
Once you know your average email open rate, you can compare it to the industry average, to better understand where your business and marketing efforts stand, are they effective, or can they be improved. Mailchimp regularly updates their stats on the average unique open rates, click rates, soft bounces, hard bounces, abuse complaint and unsubscribe rates, by industry, from the emails delivered by their system. If you want that data by location as well, check out the most recent numbers from Get Response’s analysis.
How to Get Higher Email Open Rates
The more people open your emails, the higher the chances they’ll turn into leads and customers of your business. Companies often make mistakes when sending out emails to their subscribers, which can drop their rates substantially. And even if you already have strong open rates, once they start to flatten out, you’ll certainly need to nudge the numbers in the right direction.
Here are eight tips to make sure your emails always get noticed, opened and reaching the right people:
Make Sure Your Emails Get Delivered to Your Subscribers
Spam filters are getting more sophisticated in the past years, and it’s becoming harder for companies to avoid getting caught in that dreaded spam folder. This means that your emails, even your best content, may never see the light of the day. According to Return Path’s last year Deliverability Benchmark Report, one in every five email messages (20%) does not reach recipients’ inbox.
The delivery rate is very important as a high number of undelivered emails may lead to spam blacklisting and bad reputation. This is what you can do to ensure that the emails you send are always delivered to your subscribers:
- Send your emails from a trustworthy IP address. Your sender reputation relies on you respecting the restrictions mailbox providers have set to protect the interests of their users. Always send your emails from a trusting, reputable IP address that has never been associated with any suspicious activity, like spamming or viruses.
- Use a double opt-in when adding new subscribers. Ask potential email subscribers to confirm their subscription in an automatic welcome email, sent right after they’ve signed up for your newsletter or checked the box in the online shopping cart. You only want people who care about your emails in your recipients list. People who aren’t interested won’t read your emails, or may even mark them as spam, decreasing your delivery and open rates, as well as your reputation and future email deliverability.
- Ask your subscribers to whitelist your emails and add you to their address books. This directly influences the number of delivered emails.
- Manage you email list. You need to regularly update your email subscribers list, removing the non-existent addresses and those of the people who have lost interest and no longer interact with your emails. It may feel tempting to keep sending to them to peak their interest, but keep in mind that on the long-run, these emails can only cause you damage, dragging down your email engagement rates and hurting your deliverability. Only send your emails to people who know your business and expect to get messages from you; otherwise they may treat you as spam.
Make a Good First Impression
When asked about the reasons for opening emails from businesses or non-profits, 64% of the subscribers said it’s because they know the company the emails come from, and 47% said that their decision was based on the subject line. These two reasons and the preheader are three of the most important areas you can improve immediately and dramatically increase your email open rates.
Use a specific personal name as the email sender, instead of a general email address or company name. One research shows this can mean an up to 35% increase in the open and click-through rates.
The subject line should be attention grabbing and intriguing, but also short and straight to the point. The limit for email clients is about 60 characters, but less is even better, as 49% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device where the need to stay short is crucial.
Also, steer clear of using these words in your email subject lines: Last Chance, Reminder, Final, Sale, Save, Offer, Discount or Free; at least not in their promotional context. The results are not what you would expect. Use the preview text of the email effectively, providing a short summary of the content to let readers know what to expect and why they need to read it, or even include a call-to-action if the message allows being more direct.
Optimize Your Emails for Mobile Devices
With almost half of emails now opened on mobile, it’s detrimental to the success of your email campaigns to have them optimized for mobile devices. According to a research by Adestra, in more than 70% of the cases, people deleted emails that displayed incorrectly on their phones in under 3 seconds, not even considering their content. This is a terrible loss of potential sales for your company.
Make your emails mobile-friendly, using responsive simple formatting, larger fonts, loadable media, but also make them look good without the images, in case they’re not displayed.
Find the Best Time to Send Your Emails and Be Consistent
Emails have the greatest effect soon after delivery. In fact, 23% of all email opens happen in the first hour, and after 24 hours, the rates drop below 1%. As you can see, the day and time when you send your emails are key to the success of your email marketing.
Constant Contact share a list of the best days in the week and highest-open-rates times for your email campaigns, by different industries. Check out this list or do your own testing to determine the days and times when your own audience is more likely to read your emails.
Most businesses send marketing emails either daily (32%) or weekly (41%). Plan a schedule that corresponds to the needs and wants of your readers and industry, let your subscribers know how often you’ll be sending, and stick to what you’ve said.
Always Send Quality Content
When a recipient opens your email, you’ve essentially won the battle. Almost. Now it’s time for your content to help keep them reading and clicking your links. Quality, informative, useful and engaging content will be always interesting to people, and they’ll eagerly expect you emails every time you send them. On the contrary, unsatisfied subscribers may stop opening your emails in the future, or even unsubscribe from your mailing list.
Invest time and effort to get to know your subscribers better. They may be a bit different from your usual customers. Try to understand their needs, why did they join your list, what topics are they interested in. The conclusions you arrive to can help you target your contacts with more relevant information and improve your email open and other engagement rates.
Send a short 1-3 questions survey, or take a quick poll, to find out the topics your readers want to learn more about. You can also analyze your email reports and the links that are getting the most clicks. Still, it’s best to get in the habit of writing down whatever questions or feedback you get from your customers and refer to these notes when you feel stuck on ideas for your emails.
Write about important industry news and events, answer frequently asked questions and comments on your blog, support forum, or social media, share your top-performing content, feature success stories from satisfied customers, include in your emails whatever you think will bring value to your readers. Do not hesitate to hire a writer from professional services like Edu Geeks Club, SuperiorPapers, if you need help expressing your thoughts in this format.
Segmentation Is Important and Valuable
The more relevant the email is to your subscribers, the more likely they’re to want to take action. But what’s relevant to one group of people may be completely irrelevant to another. That’s why it’s important to segment your email subscribers list and send different content to each group.
As customers and people interested in your business, products and services, your audience certainly does share some important characteristics. Still, segmenting it further, by current relationship with your business, type of purchase, time since your last interaction, or by the pages they mostly visit on your website to provide the most relevant content to their particular interests, can even more dramatically boost your email open rates and success of your email campaigns.
Write Like a Friend
When drafting your subject line and email content, think about the thousands of people who will receive that email, but write to them like you’re talking to them personally. A personal subject line and a personalized message are far more effective and stand a much better chance to get opened and read. If you appeal to your subscribers on a personal level, they’ll engage more with your emails and continue reading them in the future.
Also try to put away your corporate talk and speak more like a friend to your readers. Instead of saying “we’re offering savings to our customers”, you can say “come and check out our amazing deals”, and sound more personal and friendlier.
Test Everything and Keep Improving
The best way to find out what works with your specific email subscribers, is to try it with them. This means testing everything in your emails, the subject line, the preview text, layout, your personalization, messaging, timing and calls-to-action. Analyze the results from your research and locate what needs to be improved in your future email marketing efforts and what actions you need to take to achieve better rates next time.
Email marketing definitely isn’t dead and won’t be for a while. Even when compared with these days’ all-marketing favorite social media, emails still turn to be much more effective in increasing companies reach, across all metrics.
However, email marketing is only beneficial when done well. If executed poorly, it can be detrimental to your brand and business, costing you money and reputation, and leaving your company by the wayside, with loads of disappointed subscribers and customers.
The tips we shared above are more than enough to jump start your next email campaigns and boost their results.