When it comes to eMail marketing, not much is more important than how to get your emails opened. If you increase open rates, you’ll boost conversion rates too. After all, if they don’t get opened, they won’t convert, even if you’re giving away free condos.
Email is an integral part of the way we grow clients’ businesses at WELD2. It’s vital to maximize open rates. We’ve discovered the way we use email is extremely effective, but only if our clients’ emails get opened!
Through experience here and in past marketing lives, we’ve discovered what works, and just as importantly, what falls flat. If you’re using email marketing or plan to, here are some strategies to help you maximize email open rates.
The Email Open Final 4
There are 4 main components that determine if get your emails opened. Louse up even one, and your CMO will be all up in your grill, because your campaign’s going nowhere. Here they are, in all their glory….
Is your email exactly what the subscriber’s looking for? If you’re sending an email on boat building to a list of flower arrangers, an epic fail is in store. The more closely aligned your content is with your subscribers’ interest, the more likely your email gets opened. Why did they subscribe to your list in the first place? Are they current customers, or opt-in leads?
That’s why segmentation is so important. It lets you align content more accurately, driving up your email’s perceived value. That leads directly to the next stop on our 2014 eMail Opening Tour.
Do you have a history of sending high quality, valuable, and engaging content? If readers loved your last email, chances are they’re opening your next one. That’s a powerful incentive to always put your best foot forward. Become an anticipated part of your readers’ life and you’re scoring points on many fronts.
In his Wired Magazine post “Why eMail Newsletters Won’t Die”, Ryan Tate wrote “….the right content can make the newsletter into a daily habit. And nothing excites a business like the chance to create a profitable compulsion” Your email needs to create that sense in your readers. Hit that target, and you’ve done yourself proud.
There is another, tech based reason to ensure your emails have a high value history. “Smart” in-boxes are now evolving that can look at a recipient’s interaction history and prioritize emails from different senders. If your organization’s emails have been favorably received and interacted with in the past, there is an option that brings them to the top, and more likely seen.
When you send emails impacts opens, too. Sending B2B emails on Sunday morning, for example, can leave them buried under a hundred others when the recipient shows up at the office Monday.
Similarly, most emails are sent on Wednesday and Thursday, Avoiding those days can leave your release facing less competition for eyeballs. Thanks to technology, this is changing somewhat. However, while many business owners and execs keep a mobile device chained to their wrist and read emails even on Sundays, many do not. They prefer to keep some separation between work and personal lives. Even if they do check their emails on Sundays, they often reserve their attention for emergencies only.
In the end, all audiences are different. Test yours extensively to discover what send times work best. Always be testing.
This is the 800lb, lowland gorilla. Don’t get body slammed by an 800lb lowland gorilla. Those other factors make a difference, but the subject line is where the rubber meets the road.
The big question; is your subject line compelling? Does it make the reader feel they must open it, or spend the rest of the day wondering “what if??” If not, you’re leaving money on the table. There are several ways to pull it off, and make readers click.
This is a powerful open inducing technique. It works well in copy headlines too, for the same reasons. Make your readers feel like they’re missing something if they don’t open your email. Knowing your audience is key here. The better you know them and what they find important, the more effectively you can stimulate their curiosity.
TIP1 – Put your company name in the subject line. Research has shown a major open rate bump from this addition.
TIP2 – Create curiosity, but tell what your email is, don’t be pitchy. If it’s the XYZ Company Newsletter, put that in the subject line. The trick is creating curiosity, while maintaining transparency. Here’s a study on subject lines with real data.
Urgency / Time Sensitivity –
If readers fear missing something, they’re more likely to open your email. Some words are highly effective at conveying time sensitivity. A recent study from email the marketing platform Mail Chimp revealed that doing so brings significantly higher open rates. The words “urgent”, “breaking”, “important”, and “alert” in subject lines were all found to have a positive effect on open rates. They are listed in order of effectiveness.
Just as the subject matter relevance of the email itself has a huge effect on the unsubscribe rate, the headline relevance has a massive effect on open rates.
Example: Sending an email to a Porsche owners’ group on real estate transactions may generate some interest, given Porsche owners’ demographic. A subject line “3 Real Estate Transaction Mistakes That Can Sink You” will probably generate some opens. However, the subject line, “Porsche OG Newsletter – 911 Suspension Secrets That Win Autocross” will really get Porsche owners salivating.
Not to be confused with the send time, this refers to the timeliness of your information. For example, the subject line “Thanksgiving Dinner Secrets From Famous Chefs” may covert extremely well in mid-November, but is likely met with ambivalence in July.
Is the subject specifically addressed to them? Dedicated Email marketing platforms such as Mail Chimp, iContact, GetResponse, and so on have that ability built in. Add the recipient’s first name as a merge field in the subject line. The application pulls their first name from the database and includes it in the subject line. Now, the subject line “3 Training Secrets From Superbowl Winners” becomes “Mike Johnson, Check These 3 Training Secrets From Superbowl Winners”.
People respond positively to their names, and subject line personalization is a proven open rate enhancer. Why use bot names? A Mail Chimp study of 24 million emails sent by their subscribers showed that personalization with a first name delivered a significant open rate boost. Using both first and last name was nearly 4 times more effective. I can see the flood of first and last name emails going out already.
Makes sense, but is there empirical data to back it up? Yes, Experian found personalized emails sent during 2013 had 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings. They looked at promotional emails, so I suspect email newsletters would probably see a tighter spread between personalized and non-personalized. Even a few points is significant when it comes to your bottom line, though.
How To NOT Get Your eMails Opened
If there are ways to make sure your emails get opened, you can bet your ass there are ways to make sure they don’t. Here are some:
Get Blocked by Spam Filters
One of the best is to get them blocked by a spam filter. That’s a surefire “Do not pass go, do not collect $200” way to bring everything to a grinding halt. All isn’t lost, though.
Here are a few ways to avoid triggering those filters:
Get on the Whitelist
It’s good practice to ask your subscribers to white list your email address when they subscribe to your list. That lets their email client’s spam filter know you’re safe.
Avoid Known Trigger Words
Spam filters are algorithmically based, like search engines. They’re just looking for different things. Spam filter triggers are words often found in spammy emails. They look at both the subject lines and email bodies. You know them: porn, Cialis, Viagra, Luxury Watches, etc.
Here’s a surprising one; email marketing provider MailChimp discovered that personalizing the salutation and using “Dear” adds significant spam points. Given that personalizing is known to increase both opens and conversion, that’s still a go, just no “Dear”in the subject line.
Don’t Use a Recognized eMail Marketing Platform
The usual suspects, Mail Chimp, Get Response, iContact, Constant Contact, etc, typically see higher delivery rates than if you just sent emails from your company’s email server. There are many other reasons to use a dedicated platform, but for this open rate discussion, deliverability is what’s important. If it doesn’t get there; no open for you!
How can a dedicated platform help boost deliverability rates? To keep you from running afoul of spam filters, they run each of your emails through a spam check before it’s sent, allowing you to correct any dubious additions that be spam triggers.
Another reason the dedicated platforms can help ensure your emails get through is sender reputation. Email clients check different metrics to determine if the email may have been sent from a shady character. The dedicated email marketing platforms have a vested interest in keeping everything on the up and up, so their reputation stays high.
What’s the Deal With Getting Your eMail Opened?
Hitting the “Final 4” points of:
- Targeting Subject Line and Content
- Value History
- Compelling Subject Line
- Send Time Optimization
go a long way to ensuring your emails get opened. High open rates are the first step to an email marketing campaign that works to drive revenue for your organization.
What have you found to deliver the best open results from your email marketing campaigns?
How to Get Your eMails Opened – Increase Open Rates, Increase Sales