Email Marketing Quick Tips to Increase Open Rates

Michael Brenner on Sep 24, 2018 in Content Marketing

Email marketing is still alive and kicking. In fact, email marketing still has one of the best ROIs of any marketing tactics. For every $1 spent, expect a $38 return. It also accounts for 40% more customer acquisition than social media.

While these stats illustrate the opportunity of email marketing, the reality is that inboxes are full. So, you have to make every email count.

It all starts with the open rate. Open rates vary by industry, but most are in the range of 20%. While it’s good to benchmark open rates, there are still unique considerations for your email marketing strategy. To see growth in open rate percentage, there are some valuable, quick tips to consider when developing your next email campaign.

Emails Should Come from a “Real” Person

Think about how more likely you’d be to open an email that was from Anne at XYZ Company versus info@ or customerservice@. Probably much more likely.

Sending from a personal email address also helps determine where your email will land in an inbox. If sent from a “list” name, the email is likely to not be delivered to a primary inbox. Outlook will probably flag it and deposit in the junk folder. If you’re sending to Gmail accounts, then Google will dump your email in the promotions tab versus the primary one.

This tip is a quick, easy fix that doesn’t necessarily require a real person. You may be thinking you don’t have a specific person to send from. You also may not want to attribute to an actual person because that employee could leave one day. Yes, these are all reasonable concerns.

If you want to send emails from a real person and their email address, select someone in a leadership role, which may be a recognizable name to those receiving the email.

If you feel that a real employee cannot fill this role, create a new account. Use a simple name. Consider this name to be an avatar that represents your organization. Many companies do this to create a more personal feel.

Additionally, one other type to make it feel even more intimate is to use a first name and brand in the from instead of just using the account’s full name. For example, at company XYZ, emails would be from Name at XYZ Company. It’s more casual and could improve your open rates.

To measure the effectiveness of this change, try an A/B test where the only difference is the from field, and see which had higher open rates.

Segment Your Emails

Not everyone should receive the same email. Segmenting your email lists is a great way to be more relevant in someone’s inbox.

There are many ways to segment: by industry, region, product or service needs, or where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey.

When you create emails based on these segmenting rules, your email is more likely to seem of value to the recipient, instead of just more noise.

Here’s an example of how to segment with purpose.

You have a group segmented by industry (higher education) and buyer’s journey (consideration). At this point, the buyer is aware of the problem and is actively seeking solutions and more information.

Since you’ve had past interaction with them, and they continue to engage, it’s a great time to invite them to a webinar. Make sure the value of the webinar is displayed in your subject line, so they’ll open it and sign up for your event.

Personalization Matters

Personalization is key to any type of email marketing no matter the industry or buyer. It can increase the likelihood of an open by 26%. To present personalization in the subject line or pre-header, which is all someone’s going to see before they decide to open, can be tricky but not impossible. And, inserting a first name into the subject line isn’t the only approach.

Here are some ways to personalize your emails:

  • Apply a conversational tone.
  • Be specific about that person’s last interaction with your brand (e.g. glad you attended our webinar, thanks for signing up for our newsletter, etc).
  • Understand the buyer’s needs and their interests (products of interest, past purchases, content downloaded).
  • Create relevance based on time of year or season (e.g. messaging college administrators in early summer as they prepare for new students in the fall or reminding users of the need to prepare for the holidays).

Optimize Send Times

If you have regularly been sending email campaigns, then you should have some interesting data. Within this data, you can find the days and times that represent the best open rates. This data is useful but should not necessarily dictate every email you send.

If you have prospects or customers across the country or even internationally, then you are dealing with different time zones. You may find that it’s more advantageous to send in batches based on time zones.

Some email systems automate the timing of sending, however, this isn’t always effective. Thus, it’s best to continue to collect data and analyze it to understand the most optimal times. Don’t just send based on a guess or what you’ve always done.

Be Short and Creative with Subject Lines

Subject lines, of course, have a lot to do with whether someone opens or not. We’ve discussed several ideas relating to subject lines. The two most critical attributes of your subject line are brevity and creativity. Try to keep it to under 10 words.

Being creative is somewhat subjective, but what it really means is don’t be boring or drab. In the hundreds of emails someone receives in a day, yours needs to stand out. It needs to peak their interest and offer some kind of value. And you need to elicit that kind of response in only a few words, which means stripping out the fluff and getting to the point.

Email marketing is absolutely an important part of content marketing. It’s another channel to start and maintain a conversation with prospects and distribute content. And it creates a place to nurture prospects until they are ready to buy. But first, you have to focus on the open. Put these quick tips into action for better open rates on your next campaign.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.