How do you get recipients to open your emails? How to improve email open rates? Are there some best practices?
From the day someone sent the first email till today when a total of 205 billion emails are sent every day, emails have come a long, long way. The huge number, 205 billion emails per day, averages to over 47 emails for every email account.
Which brings us to the question: out of the dozens of emails that land in the inboxes, how many of them are read?
If you are a marketer who uses email marketing, you are no doubt aware of the huge ROI of email marketing. Email marketing is a powerful method to reach your target audience and cold prospects.
But all the lead generation, marketing funnel, and sales can only happen if your emails are read, right? With the average of over 47 emails landing daily into an inbox, the challenge starts with getting the recipient open the email.
This post discusses some of the technical aspects on how to improve your email open rates.
1. Don’t use purchased lists or rented lists.
It’s so tempting to purchase a mailing list: it’s a good deal faster and seems less expensive too. I mean, building your own opt-in list takes so much effort and resources, besides it’s time-consuming, right? Why not get a ready-to-use database?
It’s the classic case of “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Purchased lists (or rented lists, for that matter) are dangerous for a number of reasons.
To start with, the recipient hasn’t opted-in to receive your emails, Recipient had opted-in some third-party’s emails. That means if you send unsolicited emails, you run a very high risk of being labeled as a spammer. And spammers get restricted with email privileges and ultimately your email open rates decreases.
Secondly, the benefits of the list, in almost all cases, would have been sucked dry before the list reaches you. Since the recipients have been spammed to the moon and back, your email will get no more than a few grunts. Goodbye, sales. Here’s an elaborate post for those who’d like to read more reasons.
2. Avoid all caps, and words like FREE, SALE in your subject line.
Check the spam folder of your email box. You’ll spot many of them using all caps or bait words like FREE, SALE and so on in their Subject Lines. By now it is a well-established norm that email Subject Lines with all caps are a big no-no. Sample the following:
Immediately stands out, doesn’t it? Much like a cheap imitation product. You’ll want to keep away from this ALL CAPS Subject Lines. It will definitely improve your email open rates.
Secondly, there is a list of taboo words (FREE, SALE, DISCOUNT). Click here to know more words. Of course, these words aren’t set in stone. If you think a word which is otherwise taboo must be in your Subject Line, you’ll want to consider A/B Testing.
3. Use Double opt-ins.
Let’s say a visitor comes to your site, likes a few of your blogs and wishes to join your mailing list.
That’s easy; all one need to do is to punch in name and email address in the form provided. That’s it, right?
However, there are possibilities that given email addresses could be misspelled or incorrect. That’s why there’s a practice of double opt-in. When someone enters email id on your site, an email is sent to the given address. The recipient needs to click on a link (called the Confirmation Link) in the email. Only after the confirmation link is clicked upon, the email addresses are added to the mailing list.
Since the email address of incorrectly spelled or incorrect recipient is not added to the mailing list, you may see a slightly smaller number of addresses being actually added to your mailing list. But this isn’t really a loss. Your mailing list gets only fully verified, clean addresses. That means all emails you send out will actually be delivered. It will neither send out emails to incorrect addresses (which means practically zero-bounce) nor to people who actually did not sign up for your emails (which means you can’t be accused of spamming).
As a result, you might see your emails going to 5-10% fewer recipients, but you know they are all genuine. And Ultimately, it improves email open rates. That’s good news for your ROI.
“Permission marketing offers the consumer an opportunity to volunteer to be marketed to. By talking only to volunteers, Permission marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing messages.”
-Seth Godin, Author of permission marketing
4. Know Your Sender score
Sender Score is a number between 0 and 100 which identifies your email sending reputation. It provides you data how mailbox providers view your IP address. Your Sender Score is like a bank running your credit score to gauge your credit history. This service is provided by Return Path.
Sender reputation is a simple metrics of the trustworthiness of an email sender’s IP address. Mailbox providers take a lot of metrics into consideration to determine your sender reputation including spam complaints, mailing to unknown users, industry blacklists, and more. (Checkout 13 Reasons Why Your Email Ends Up In Spam)
5. Verify Email List
People move from one organization to other, email addresses go inactive, primary email addresses change. All this, and more, could mean some of your email addresses that were perfectly valid a year back are either no longer active, or worse, no longer exist. When you send emails to addresses that no longer exist, they bounce back. And email service providers make a note of how many of your emails bounce back. Again, it will start suspecting you of being a spammer.
Estimates vary, but anywhere between 10 to 25 percent of email addresses may die every year. So what do you do? There are professional organizations that provide email verification service. They will verify and report how many of your email addresses are valid, how many are invalid, how many are safe to send etc. Once you have ‘cleaned’ your mailing list, you can fully concentrate on your email marketing campaign without any worries. The verification can be done in any of the three ways:
- You upload your entire mailing list on the email verification service provider and it will provide you a segregated list.
- Your database on your ESP (say Aweber or Emma) can be fully integrated with the email verification service
- You could opt for an API, that small patch that sits on your registration page, and verify emails real-time as the visitor punches in email address.
6. Keep learning
The biggest advantage of doing things on the internet is the kind of measurements and analytics it provides. You can actually follow the internet-age dictum Build- Execute-Learn-Repeat very well. It’d be silly not use the smart tools that technology offers today.
When you’re on your next campaign, you’ll want to apply everything you learned from the previous campaign, plug all the holes, correct all the slips and capitalize on whatever worked the last time.
One of the easiest things you could do is to track your emails. See who is opening your email and get real-time notifications. Ideally, the technology you use to track your email should seamlessly help you track emails from your existing email tool with an Outlook or Gmail plugins, in your browser like Chrome. It should be able to tell you how often your email was opened – more than one opens clearly indicate a heightened interest.
7. Think about your mobile users.
According to a study, 69% of mobile users open their emails on mobile devices for the first time. It becomes important to make your emails mobile friendly. It should be written in a normal font size which helps to keep recipient’s interest level. If content does your work, avoid using big media files which might take time to load your email. In that case, the recipient may decide to leave the inbox without reading your email. This kind of action will increase your email bounce rates which adversely affects the open email-rates. Moreover, If you are writing an email, make sure you are writing everything in a proper order, placing too many call to action buttons and links can look horrendous in mobile format. Decide a format and stick with it to avoid confusion.
These tips will surely improve your email open rates yet there are certain other tactics which could benefit your campaign and subscribers. Have another tip that could be included on this list? Share your best strategies in the comments section below!