Email marketing is an affordable, effective way to engage with prospects throughout the customer life-cycle. From introducing your product or service to driving conversions and moving a prospect from interest to close, email marketing is a cost effective inbound marketing tool.
Studies have found that for every dollar spent on email marketing, companies generate almost $41 in sales. This is higher than mobile ($10.51 per dollar spent), display advertising ($19.82) social media ($12.71) and search engine marketing ($22.24).
In order to provide this type of return-on-investment, your prospect has to actually open and read your email then act on your CTA. What follows are several tips and best practices that can increase the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts by increasing email open rates.
Deliverability and Email Open Rates
There is a relationship between deliverability and email open rates, but it might not be what you think! Often senders will believe that low open rates are a result of poor deliverability, but in fact the opposite is usually the case. Deliverability can suffer because your email open rate is low!
Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) that see a low open rate assume that:
People are not interested in your message, or the content is unwanted
Your list hasn't been cleaned recently
These are red flags for ESPs, and even if your list is completely opted in, most ESPs will begin to deliver your message directly into the spam folder, lowering your open rates even more!
As a general rule, consider a 15% open rate as an “average.” While this is not a scientifc or analytic benchmark, below 15% is where deliverability can become an issue. If your email open rates are falling around the 15% mark, here are list management tips that can increase open rates:
- Make sure recipients are opting in – If your list isn't built correctly, you will never achieve a high open rate. In fact, a better way to build your list is by using a double opt-in system. When a visitor subscribes, immediately auto-send them a thank you email with a confirmation link. This is not only a soft approach, but confirming means that your subscriber is truly interested in your content.
- Segment your lists – Specifically targeting content increases email open rates. Find ways to precisely identify subscriber's interests. Ask them to specify when they opt in or use techniques like site tracking to determine which web pages they spend the most time engaging with. This technique means subscribers receive only the content they are interested in which can increase open rates.
- Keep your lists current – Typically you'll lose 25-50% of your list annualy due to list churn. Someone who opted in over a year ago may not still be active or interested. It's extremely important to regularly remove subscribers who have not opened any of your recent emails. At the very least, tag them as inactive and reduce your outreach.
- Test your lists – Too much or too little contact can also effect open rates. While there is no rule, mailing frequency can vary for different products and services. Experiment! Try sending information on different days or different times of the day then analyze open rates. This can give you a sense of what works best for your subscribers.
Content Is Still King!
While maintaining a clean and updated list is important, content is still king! From your first contact, your content should offer real, consistent value. Make sure you're offering readers high quality information. Keep any offers targeted and subtle. Nothing will get you marked as spam faster than constantly sending offer after offer with no value attached.
The goal of email marketing is to build a personal relationship with your subscribers. Personalizing your message, engaging with readers and providing solutions to their specific pain points is the best way to build a strong relationship based on trust.
Subject lines are another important, often overlooked area that can increase email open rates. Dry, boring, or overly “salesy” headlines can turn off readers. Use words that create controversy, power-words, words that convey urgency or ask pertinent questions. These can pique your subscribers interest making them more inclined to open and read your message.
By the same token, avoid common spam words that can trigger an ESPs junk mail filter. Phrases like “big bucks,” “no credit check” and “winning” can get your email deposited directly into your recipients junk mail folder. Keep your subject lines simple, funny or controversial, keep your content personalized and provide value and you will see your email open rates and your sales increase.
By using these simple techniques for list management and content creation you can increase your email open rates, conversions, and sales and build trust that can grow your business!