The classic email is old-fashioned but efficient. Even today, the following still applies: “The money is in the list”. In this article, we will therefore focus to increase email open rate.
If you have generated hundreds or even thousands of subscribers with clever list building, you are already doing a lot right. But what good is a large list if no one opens the emails sent? The next logical step is to improve the open rate.
Open rates average around 20 percent
Before we look at specific tips, it’s important to evaluate the current status. To do this, marketers can compare their own key figures with those of other companies, for example, using benchmarks from Constant Contact or Convertkit. Constant Contact provides the average open rates of companies from over 40 industries, including “Business and Finance” and “Media and Publishing”.
As a general rule, the larger the list, the lower the open rate. Accordingly, significantly higher open rates are possible with a few hundred subscribers. In this respect, a newsletter is comparable to a Facebook page – here, too, the reach usually decreases as the number of fans increases.
I’m sorry, but: “Content is King”.
Even if you’re sick of this saying, the same guiding principle applies to emails as it does to blogs: “Content is King”. That’s why it’s relatively easy for a publisher like t3n, which produces a constant stream of new content. Our newsletter achieves an open rate of 35 percent with almost 30,000 subscribers, and the newsletter for our job board even reaches 50 percent.
There are many reasons for a low open rate, but subscribers are often a first starting point. It is crucial that the recipients have an equally high interest in the content of your e-mails. If this “common denominator” is missing, the open rate will also drop. This is one of the reasons why subscribers gained through arbitrary sweepstakes (“Secure iPhone 12 now!”) often have a negative impact on the open rate.
5 Tips to Increase Email Open Rates
1. Avoid spam-like “FREE IPHONE 6!!! CLICK NOW!!!”
There are a number of providers that rate the “spam factor” of your emails. They award points for every mistake you make. The headline of this section is a prime example. It relies on continuous capitalization, lots of exclamation points, and phrases like “click now.”
Such and similar measures bring the “spam points”, which add up to a certain sum and thus your “spam factor”. If it is above a certain limit, your email will end up in the spam hunters’ net instead of in the inbox of your potential customers. Therefore, avoid measures that spammers would also use and focus on high quality.
2. Segment your Subscribers
As the number of recipients grows, so does the diversity of their motives. Some want to receive the latest content, others especially valuable and exclusive. Some prefer topic A, others topic B.
If you notice that your open rate is dropping despite the same content, you should take a closer look at the inactive recipients and note any commonalities. Information on the time of registration, but also manually transferred parameters, can help here. Marketers can pass additional parameters to the respective provider each time they sign up – for example, via a form in the sidebar. With the help of these parameters, marketers can create smaller segments.
A final but quite valid step is to delete the inactive subscribers of a newsletter. This ultimately also sends a positive signal to the many spam filters in use, thanks to the higher open rates.
3. Texts a Click-strong Subject
The next big lever is also the beginning of every e-mail: the subject line. A first starting point for optimization is offered by colleague Kim Rixecker with an article about 5 tips for increasing click-through rates which is based on study results of the Nielson Norman Group.
Another trick, which has become very unpopular in the meantime, are so-called “open loops”. These are gaps in content that readers want to close and therefore encourage them to click. Media like Buzzfeed use them with great success in their headlines, but they work similarly well in subject lines.
4. Vary the frequency of your emails
If a newsletter leads to direct sales, the more the merrier. Despite this indirect pressure, however, marketers should never send “empty” emails. More important than frequency is quality. It is the only thing that ultimately ensures better open rates.
If open rates drop, marketers can also play with frequency after optimizing all of the above criteria. Lower or higher penetration can often work wonders – but the direction in which it should go depends heavily on the content.
If you send your emails to a large list, you can also boost your open rate to previously undreamt-of heights with a simple trick. A few days after sending an email, marketers create a segment from all recipients who have not opened it. This segment is then replayed with the old campaign. The only important thing is a new lead.
5. Ask your Subscribers for Feedback
If all this doesn’t help, the most obvious recommendation is to contact your subscribers and ask them about their needs and requirements. Often, a simple email with a request for a response will do the trick. For larger lists, you can create a survey instead.
You can either send your request for feedback to the entire list or to individual segments. A survey of particularly active subscribers is likely to yield interesting results, but inactive subscribers also provide valuable insights. Who you contact will ultimately depend on your goals.
Marketers can also get helpful feedback from subscribers who unsubscribe. In order to keep the effort of users who are already negative to a minimum, largely predefined dialogs are ideal at this point. Many companies, for example, rely on questions whose appropriate answer a user only has to select.
Do you know any other tips for improving open rates? I look forward to your tips in the comments.