16 Ways to Boost Your Email Open Rates

Email is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels, delivering returns as high as $41 in sales for each dollar spent. However, achieving those returns requires a solid email open rate, and if you’re making common mistakes in your email marketing, you could have fewer signups, less social media sharing, fewer click-throughs, and lower sales. So how do you get more recipients to open your emails when you only have three to four seconds to grab their attention? Start by understanding what a good open rate is and get to know the top strategies for boosting your email open rates.

What’s an email open rate?

The email open rate is calculated by dividing the number of recipients who open the email by the number of emails sent that didn’t bounce. The bounce number being subtracted from the total sent simply means if the email didn’t reach the recipient, it’s not counted.

What’s a good open rate?

There’s no universal standard as to what a good open rate is as it depends on your industry, whether you’re B2B or B2C, and even your brand. For example, an open rate of 24.71% might be considered a good benchmark for agriculture and food service businesses, while e-commerce organisations might be pleased with a 16.75% open rate. Additionally, smaller companies might see higher open rates than larger companies.

You should start by working out your average open rate and focus on improving it from there.

16 Strategies for increasing your email open rate

The important strategies for increasing your open rate range from getting your email address whitelisted to personalisation and mastering subject lines.

1. Get whitelisted

SPAM filters can filter out your emails, and when they do, neither you nor your subscribers will know the email has disappeared into the junk folder. Make sure you provide instructions as you ask new subscribers to whitelist you, both in the post-sign-up confirmation page as well as in your first welcome email.

2. Optimise emails for mobile

TractionNext - Boost Your Email (4)As much as 65% of emails are first opened on a mobile device, so make sure your emails load quickly and are designed for reading on phones and tablets. If your email’s too hard to read or not loading properly on a smaller screen, your reader might end up deleting it after a quick scan. So make sure you test your emails on different mobile devices before sending.

3. Use the right sender name

Readers typically check the sender’s name before deciding whether or not they’ll open the email. For certain industries or brands, if the sender is a company, readers might be more likely to delete it. However, if it looks like it’s from  an individual more readers might decide to open it because it has a personal touch. Work out what your readers prefer and make sure you’re using the right sender name, whether it’s your company name or an individual’s name.

4. Manage expectations

Manage your subscribers’ expectations from the start. Just as you requested to be whitelisted, you should let them know how often they’ll be hearing from you. Take the opportunity in your welcome email to make that clear.

5. Personalise by segmenting

TractionNext - Boost Your Email (3)Segmented campaigns are associated with a 13.07% higher open rate. Your subscribers likely have different interests and needs, so segment accordingly as this will allow you to deliver emails that are as relevant as possible. Use demographic and behavioral data, sign-up dates, and other relevant data to identify different buyer personas so you can personalise your email sequences.

6. Nurturing hot leads with a well-designed email sequence

Plan your email sequence(s) carefully and you’ll be able to keep your news subscribers in the highly engaged state they’re usually in when they sign up. Nurturing leads in this way keeps them interested and makes it more likely they’ll open your emails. Build trust and authority with great content that helps them with their pain points in every email.

7. Use a conversational style

As a general rule, using a conversational, friendly style is the best approach when it comes to appealing to readers. The conversational tone sounds more personal and engaging, and it can make your emails easier to read.

8. Write compelling subject lines and avoid spam words

Use eye-catching subject lines that immediately spark the reader’s interest and A/B test your them this is easy to do, especially if you use a email automation platform. Aim for six to ten words as a general rule, and don’t use words that could see your email sent to the SPAM folder. These include free, help, percent off, cash, quote, and save. Instead, use words that create urgency, like missing out, simple, and no nonsense.

9. Work on your preheaders

Preheaders are the one or two sentence previews after the subject line. These are shown in the inbox view before the reader opens the email, and within them you can include a call to action or provide extra details and context. A/B test these as well to determine what works with different segments.

10. Include the sender’s name in subject lines

Something as simple as including the sender’s name in the subject line could boost your email open rates. Make an effort to include either the first name, or first and last name, of your recipients and A/B test to figure out which ones yields the best results.

11. Time your emails right

TractionNext - Boost Your Email (2)The only way you can work out the best times for sending emails is to test and refine with your own list, since there’s no universal best time for every business. Start by doing research on industry and sector trends for optimal email timing. Keep in mind general rules might not apply for your business – although open rates typically drop off on weekends, people have been successful with weekend emails.

12. Deliver great content every time

Poor content is a top reason for unsubscribing, so make sure you invest in great content and deliver it consistently. Link to valuable resources like eBooks, comprehensive blog posts, and free webinars. By consistently delivering engaging content, your readers will look forward to your next email and be more likely to open it.

13. Understand your lists’ fears

Understand your lists’ top pain points and what they stand to lose. Communicate succinctly, in the subject line and through the content, how you can help them avoid these fears. And don’t be afraid to get a little negative sometimes if you need to do so to get the message across.

14. Resend unopened emails

You could increase your email reach if you resend emails to subscribers who didn’t open it the first time. Change your subject line and email the subscribers who didn’t open it, say, one week later. This way, the work you put into your first email doesn’t go to waste as far as these subscribers are concerned.

15. Use numbered lists

Lists help readers process content and retain it more effectively. So, where possible, use numbered lists for your content and highlight this in your subject line so your subscribers know they can quickly skim the email in a few seconds.

16. Refresh your list

Check your list periodically and remove inactive subscribers that show consistent bounce behaviour. At the same time, focus on acquiring highly valuable prospects or subscribers. Without these inactive subscribers diluting your numbers, you’ll have a more accurate open rate.

Start improving your open rate now

The open rate is probably the most fundamental metric when it comes to email campaigns, and after reading through these strategies, you’ve probably identified at least one or two things you can do today to boost your open rates. With a higher open rate, you could boost click-through and share-email percentages, and in turn achieve higher conversion rates and sales.

TractionNext provides industry-leading all-in-one marketing automation software to businesses across Australia. Our next-generation technology helps you automate campaign workflows and accelerate conversions without getting in the way of your business. To find out more about how our unified-platform product could drive successful email campaigns, write to us today.

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