When it comes to email marketing, your open rate is one of the most important metrics you can measure. Everything that happens afterwards in the user journey—click through rates, conversions—none of those matter if users don’t even open the emails to begin with!
Optimizing open rates can be tricky, but there are several tactics that you can test out to ensure that you’re getting the most out of every email campaign.
Customers don’t like receiving emails they never signed up for, and it makes complete sense for marketers and business owners to require initial consent prior to sending communications. However, there are sometimes situations when customers will take the initiative to sign up for communications…and then they forget that they ever did so. Or perhaps, the customer might have provided a fake email address in order to access a piece of content or a deal on your website.
This is where implementing what’s known as a “double opt-in” can come in handy. The first opt-in takes place when the customer fills out a form in order to subscribe or receive communications from you. To implement a second opt-in, you just need to trigger an automated email asking the customers to confirm that they would like to receive communications from your organization.
The double opt-in process helps improve open rates in a couple of ways:
- Keep your contact lists clean from fake email addresses or one-off email submissions
- Ensure that customers truly want to receive your marketing communications
Ensure Your List Is Up-to-Date
As inboxes become cluttered and people’s interests move on, there might be times when customers are no longer interested in your product or service and ignore your email communications as a result. At least twice a year, we recommend sending an email to customers who have not engaged with your email communications at all over the course of several months. In this email, ask your customers if they are still interested in receiving your communications – and if they aren’t, communicate that you will remove them from your mailing list.
By doing this, you can once again communicate your value prop and perhaps re-engage their interest. If the customers are not responsive or if they confirm that they would like to be taken off, then this is actually a good thing! You want to make sure that you’re only sending email communication to people who want to receive it, as they are the ones who will want to open your emails and engage. By having them confirm their level of interest, you can be confident that your email list is filled with qualified contacts.
Marketers and business owners make the common mistake of launching a new email newsletter or campaign, only to be inconsistent with how often they send this communication out to their customers. If a customer receives a great newsletter or deal in their inbox one day and sees no communication from the company for several weeks or months, there is a huge risk of the customer either forgetting about your brand or not trusting the reliability of your communication. In either case, the customer could determine that it’s not worth continuing their email subscription if they’re not sent valuable content on a frequent basis.
Once you determine what types of emails you want to send, try to figure out a scheduled cadence that is reasonable for your workload. Be transparent with your customers regarding how frequently they can expect to receive certain emails. Most importantly, be sure to follow up on that commitment!
When you’re first starting out with email campaigns, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what aspects of your campaigns are leading to better open rates than others. A/B testing is a useful tactic to use in these situations, and luckily email platforms today typically come with out-of-the-box capabilities allowing you to perform a variety of tests.
Here are some common tests you can try:
1. Subject Lines
The subject line is the most important element of your email, as it serves as the focal point where users decide whether or not they’re interested in the contents within the email itself. You’ll want to ensure that your subject lines are not only eye-catching, but also indicative of what type of content will be inside.
Try testing descriptive subject lines vs. vague subject lines. To be more provocative or intriguing, you can also test subject lines that appear in the form of a question. If you’re sending a deal or promotion, try testing a subject line that specifically calls out the promotion vs. a subject line that is a bit more mysterious as to what type of promotion it could be. There are a lot of different paths you can take, but this is a great way to quickly tell what subject line style might work more for your audience.
2. Different Days
Let’s face it, some days are just better than others when it comes to email open rates. Some people like to check certain types of emails on weekdays vs. weekends, and this could depend on a variety of factors like the type of job schedule they have or when they have the most free time. While there are general benchmarks and best practices for which days work better than others, we recommend testing this because each audience is so different.
3. Different Times of the Day
Similar to the days themselves, some times during the day are better than others when it comes to driving increases in open rates. For example, it might be better to send emails first thing in the morning before the typical workday starts, during lunch time, or at the end of the day. Maybe the majority of your audience are early birds, or maybe they’re night owls. Or perhaps your audience is so engaged and tied to their phones/computers that they’ll open your emails no matter what time of the day it is!
Once you nail down the days that work best for your emails, you can get more granular and perform A/B tests around specific times during those days.
Personalize Your Emails
As much as possible, we recommend that marketers and business owners personalize their emails as much as possible. By including personalized information (ie your customer’s first name) in the subject line, the email may catch the customer’s eye when skimming the inbox. The customer may also think that the contents within the email will resonate with them specifically, as opposed to a message that might be meant for a broader audience. Customers engage more with content that resonates with their interests, pain points, or identity, and by personalizing emails to the best of your ability, you can demonstrate that your business is paying attention to their unique needs.
While personalization sounds like it might be a time-consuming and manual effort, it’s actually one of the easiest tactics you can try to improve your subject lines. Email tools today make it very seamless to personalize emails automatically as long as you have basic customer data (first name and last name, company, job title).
Looking for help with jump starting your email campaigns? Get in touch for a free 15 minute consultation—we’d love to learn more about your business goals and how we can help.