6 Tips to Increase Open Rates

By 26 November, 2015Email Marketing

Due to its simplicity, efficiency, and low cost, email marketing is still one of the top choices for digital marketers. And let’s not forget its consistent success rate. According to eConsultancy, respondents claimed that 23% of their sales were thanks to email marketing, an increase from the previous year where the numbers were 18%.

Another benefit with email marketing is how easy it is to measure, either in click-through-rates or open rates. Of course, we want as high numbers as possible to be part of the email marketing success.

Initially, we should understand what open rates are. Easily confused with click-through rates (that can measure the content in your email), the open rates are actually counted when one of the following occurs:

  • The reader enables images in your email to be displayed in preview pane or in a full view of the email.
  • The recipient clicks a link in the email.

Each segment is different and it’s up to you to figure out exactly what works for your email marketing campaign. Here we will discuss 6 tips to increase open rates, all of them being essential elements to consider when you want to increase your open rates:

1. Make Sure You’re in the Inbox…

We want to stay as far away from that spam folder as possible, otherwise your perfectly customized email campaign will be in vain. The email has to go through certifications and authentications, which means that ending up directly in the inbox might be tricky, but there are a few ways to help the email out on its journey to wanted destination:

  • Double-opt in – have the recipients confirm that they actually want your emails.
  • Add an unsubscribe link – put the reader in charge if he or she wants to keep on receiving the emails. Otherwise, into the spam folder you go.
  • Ask them to be added in their address book – your name in the “From” field increases delivery rates.
  • Don’t email the recipients that don’t want them – that would be yet another reason to end up as spam.

2. …and Optimized for all Devices

45% of all clicks in an email occur on a mobile device so you want it to be easily accessible to all your readers. These numbers mean that without a responsive design, you might miss out on half of your recipients’ clicks.
If you happen to use eMarketeer, responsive design is usually a quick fix (find the templates with an (r) in the name and you’re good). There are a few pointers to think about when optimizing an email for mobile devices. Jason DeMers at Forbes suggests using a font no bigger than 13-14 pixels, only one column, and not too many images.

3. Find the “Just Right” Frequency

Have you heard of the Swedish word “lagom?” Freely translated it means “not too little, not too much, but just right.” That is exactly how you should think when you  schedule your deliveries, which is a challenge in itself. The risk with sending too often is that you will look like a spammer, 73% opt-out of emails as soon as their inbox is filled with too many of your emails. The rule of thumb here is “quality over quantity.” Send your emails when you have good content, something that your receivers actually want to read about. If you still feel that you love emails and want to send it out all the time, sure! You could then to do it in different segments and you’ll keep a good flow of your outbound marketing content.

4. What time of the Day Works for You?

Trying to find out what time of the day works best to increase your open rates is a challenge, since there are so many different answers to this question. The reason is simply it all depends on what business category you belong to. Although some of the statistics might have changed with the inception of mobile marketing, Smart Insights writes on how, for example, the leisure sector works better between 10 AM-12 PM, while the energy industry will see better rates in the 12PM-3PM time span. There are however some times to avoid, for example between midnight and 7 AM where only 4% of the emails are likely to be opened. If you happen to belong in the B2B-field, morning emails tend to work better than the ones sent after lunch.

5. Get a Good First Impression with Your Subject Line

First impression is everything. If your subject line is not appealing to the readers, the email will be forgotten. 35% of the emails avoid the delete button as long as the subject line is appealing, and it is also shown that some words are more successful than others where “Alert” is a good example. However, try to avoid “help” and “reminder.” Furthermore, research actually also shows that the fewer the characters the more open rates.

6. Personalize

You want to stand out and be relevant to your readers, and personalized content is the right way to go. Allow yourself to be on first name basis with your customers by putting their name in the subject line. The companies that have done so can see 26% higher unique open rates and a 41% higher click rate. In case you don’t have every name of your recipients, don’t worry! Even though you don’t have 100% perfect data you could always use the fallback value, where you instead can use phrases such as “friend” or “client.” Remember that this personalization goes both ways. Make sure that your name is visible in the email and in the sender’s box to avoid the “spam-stamp.”

So how do we increase open rates? In conclusion, you need to:

  • Take a look at different methods to get as far away from spam-folder as possible
  • Optimize your content for mobile devices
  • Find the “just right” frequency and send your emails when you have good content
  • Find out what time of the day works best for your sector, and try to stay out of the email clutter by not sending your content at the same time as everybody else is.
  • Increase your open rates with an interesting subject line.
  • Personalize your content and subject lines.

These six components all have an impact if your emails will be successful or not. There are many different studies showing different results on the perfect email campaign, simply because each sector and segment are different. To get the best recipe for your email success where the readers can’t resist clicking on your links, you need to see and test what your audience wants. These rules can help you out to see what worked and what needs to be improved:

  • High open rates but low click rates: Your subject line and/or the content closest to the top left corner of the email was great and got people to open it, but the content and call to actions should be improved as few people clicked it.
  • Low open rates but high click rates: The subject line and top content weren’t exciting enough for people to open the email, but those who did really liked your call to actions and clicked away. These are the emails you would want to rework a little (improve subject and imagery) and resend to non-openers and/or non-clickers.
  • High open and high click: You got it!
  • Low opens and clicks: Hmm – time to rework.

What is your combination for increased open rates?

As Digital Marketing Manager, Josefine oversees strategies, production and processes for all content marketing efforts, including social media, email and blog. She also introduced videos into their content marketing strategy, in which she shares her best tips on different marketing topics.

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