Tom Wozniak – Executive Director of Marketing – OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC
The most compelling email creative, engaging offer, and brilliant call-to-action can still fail to produce any response, if no one opens the email in the first place. There’s good reason that email marketers focus a great deal of their attention on Open Rates. It really is as simple as the fact that if a recipient doesn’t open an email, they can’t respond or click a link and generate a conversion.
Open rates vary by industry, type of email, etc. But, recent studies (including one by MailChimp in April, 2018) show average open rates of around 21% across all types of marketing emails and industries. Whether your average open rates are above average or below, it’s safe to say that most email marketers are interested in getting more recipients to open their next email.
There are any number of articles, white papers, guides, and other types of content that provide strategies and tactics to improve open rates. So, here are just a few to consider when planning your next email campaign.
Your Subject Line is Never an Afterthought
Writing better subject lines is probably the most obvious tactic for optimizing your open rates, but that’s because it really is one of the most effective ways to get more recipients to open your emails. There is an art and science to writing great subject lines, just as there is for other marketing content. But, here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare the subject line for your next campaign.
- Approach it with your audience in mind. What would catch the attention of your recipients? Remember that in many cases, you and your marketing team may not be that similar to your target audience. So, a subject line that appeals to your team may not have the same effect on your campaign recipients.
- Use humor but don’t get too clever. Many recipients will love a funny or clever subject line. But, if it comes across as just a bit too clever, it can turn off your audience.
- Keep it short. There are certainly instances where a longer subject line makes sense. But, remember that most consumers now access email on their mobile phones. This means longer subject lines get chopped off. If the hook in your subject line comes in after the cutoff, you’ve missed the mark.
Who is it From?
Not every email marketers think too much about the From or Sender information. But, recipients definitely do. Some recent stats from SuperOffice showed that 64% of email recipients use the sender name as a reason to open or not open an email. Think of how you handle your own email (work or personal). What is the first thing you look for as you’re clearing out your inbox? For a lot of us, it’s the sender name. See a sender name you don’t recognize? If that email also happens to be in your promotional inbox folder, you may just delete it without ever opening it. Conversely, if you see a sender name for a brand or company you buy from regularly or that you associate with interesting email content, you’re probably going to at least hold on to that message and maybe read it. It’s almost certainly worth testing different sender names and compares performance. Sometimes a recognizable brand name is best, while other times a person’s name may get better results. Test and find out what is most effective for your audience.
Write Great Content – Every Time
Wait a minute. Why am I suggesting that content has a bearing on open rates when recipients can’t see the content until after opening an email? This relates to taking a longer view on optimizing open rates. If you’re mailing a list regularly over a period of time, consistently valuable and engaging content will almost certainly help increase your open rates. As recipients come to recognize that reading your emails is worth their time because they’re funny, informative, deliver valuable info, include great deals, etc. they will be more likely to open future emails. If you’re interested in having a successful, long-term email program, then this actually may be the single most important strategy to drive performance.
They say timing is everything and in marketing, that can absolutely be the case. In a perfect world, you would make sure your email or other marketing message reached a recipient at just the right moment when they are most receptive to your message and ready to take action. In the real world, it’s not always simple to know when that perfect time will occur. But, one of the many advantages of email is that you do have control over when you send your messages. What you can control, you can test and find the option that drives the best performance. Consider sending your campaigns on different days of the week and various times of day. You may find that recipients are more likely to open your emails on Wednesdays in the afternoon, or some other combination. When you test, don’t just accept conventional email marketing wisdom about the best days/time to mail either. Test it for yourself.
Starting with these four strategies should help you get off to a good start in optimizing open rates in your email campaigns.