Despite changes in digital marketing mechanisms over time, email marketing is still a powerful tool. To put it in perspective, a popular book that relates to the subject, Permission Marketing by Seth Godin, is over 15 years old but still acts as a guidebook of sorts for today’s email marketers.
But in the face of what many consider to be more flashy and exciting digital marketing methods, like social media and SEO, what is it about email marketing that makes it still effective?
Email marketing allows businesses to reach customers in their own personal space – the inbox. It’s considered to be owned media, because once you get an email address, it’s yours unless the person unsubscribes. It’s not “pay to play” like social media marketing has become, requiring ad spend to achieve larger reach.
Over time, email marketing has proven to provide the highest engagement rates and ROI among other digital marketing strategies. The effectiveness of print marketing is of course much harder to prove, although it could be argued that email is more effective than print solely because it’s trackable.
With all the promises it brings, many businesses aren’t sure how to do email right and end up annoying and even alienating customers by doing it wrong.
What is an Email Open Rate?
Before diving straight into specific strategies, it’s important to define what exactly an email open rate is, exactly. Simply put, an email open rate is the rate or percentage of recipients who opened your email within a given list.
Marketers know that by increasing email open rates, there’s a much higher conversion potential. Like with a blog post, if a person never clicks through to read it, it was ultimately a waste to write.
Use these proven strategies to improve email open rates and accomplish your specific business objectives!
Craft a Killer Subject Line
A subject line is the first thing that people see. It has the power to draw recipients in and to actually open the email. A killer subject line can have a couple of distinct components:
- It must arouse curiosity or inspire emotions
- It should be short enough that it doesn’t get cut off on various devices
- Emojis can be a fun way to get attention if used sparingly
- Personalization (like a person’s name) can be effective
There are many ways to customize your subject line and each email send will require something different. Mailchimp shares a number of best practices for creating great subject lines.
Send From a Person
The next thing your recipient is likely to notice after they’ve read the subject line is who the email came from. Many companies are customizing the “from” field to include the name of a particular person, like the head of the Marketing department, so it seems more personal than coming from a big company. This is mainly because people are skeptical of companies and marketing messages. An email coming from an actual person is more personable, giving the feeling of trustworthiness and people will be more likely to open it.
Segment Your Email List
Not all email messages are appropriate for everyone on your list. By segmenting your list into subsections, you’ll be able to send more targeted and appropriate messages. A few various options to think about regarding segmentation:
- Demographics (Age, Gender, etc.)
- Actions taken on website (signed up for a certain lead magnet, made a purchase, etc.)
Highly relevant and focused email campaigns are more likely to improve email open rates. A segmented list makes this happen by sending relevant, clickable content.
The process of how to segment your list can be difficult, but you can include necessary form fields on your email signup if you know that segmenting by these fields will make a big difference in your ability to target specific customers. Just don’t include too many fields – these may discourage a person from signing up in the first place!
Send at the Right Time
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to email. Think about your own email consumption – are you more likely to take action on an email during your commute or when you’re on your computer, in between projects, and at your desk?
Timing can be the difference between a purchase… or not. Even if a person is interested, they may not be able to act, and may forget to do so when they can.
Sending an email at the best times makes your messages more visible. Sending it at the wrong times might mean your email will be buried and ignored or forgotten. As every industry and company is different, the best way to determine what times work is by conducting frequent testing and research.
Consistently Deliver Quality Content
Consistency is key in regards to email timing, frequency and of course – quality content. If you’re consistently providing a good experience, people will look forward to your subsequent emails, which will make them much easier to get opened. Always aim to provide value and sell only periodically. If your emails are all about sales, all the time – you’re unlikely to keep your email list engaged.
Avoid Spam Trigger Words
One of the main reasons why an otherwise great email may remain unopened is because it gets sent to the spam folder. Certain words trigger this spam mechanism and should be avoided or reworded. Think about the emails within your own spam filter for some hints as to what these words might be. Hubspot also has a pretty comprehensive list to use as a reference.
Write For Mobile
Just as in Search Engine Optimization, mobile-friendliness may be the difference between someone reading your content or not.
Many people view emails on a mobile device. In fact, 74% of all internet activity is checking email on mobile phones, so make sure that words are readable and the email layout doesn’t break as screen sizes change. There shouldn’t be a major difference in terms of the experience between desktop and mobile email viewing.
There are certainly a lot of things you can do to improve email open rates and it doesn’t start or stop with just having a compelling subject line. The quick list of strategies to improve email open rates includes:
- Craft a killer subject line
- Send from a person
- Segment your email list
- Send at the right time
- Consistently deliver quality content
- Avoid spam trigger words
- Write for mobile
If you can master these things, we see many more email opens and conversions in your future!
Do you need help with your email marketing? Contact us today to learn how we can help you design a great email blast that helps you see high open rates!