Email marketing may sound boring, but it’s one of the biggest drivers of engagement for many marketing campaigns.
I use email for many clients, from driving ticket sales, event reminders, offers and hot off the press news. For those that think email marketing is dead, you’re completely wrong – we all still heavily rely upon email for everything that we do.
It’s also highly responsive over other forms of marketing, as you can react quickly and send out bulletins at a click of a button, allowing you to reach a large audience. It’s also cost-effective too!
The best of all, it’s also completely trackable and you can see results as they happen.
So, it’s no wonder that many e-marketers strive for the highest open rate possible.
13 tips to maximise your email’s open rate
A/B split test campaigns
As with any campaign, split testing is essential. Most email marketing software now allows you to split test the sender’s from name, subject line and even body content. In particular, I’m a huge fan of Campaign Monitor’s a/b split testing feature.
You can send X% percentage of your email list with subject line A and a further Y% of your list with subject line B. After two hours, the subject line that has generated the most opens (or clicks) is the winner and is sent to the remainder of your list. You can also manually choose a winner if you want to.
Change your send out time
Timing is key, and although I recommend sticking to a regular slot each week or month, it’s important to keep an eye out on external factors that may influence your campaign’s success. For example – in the UK, in the lead up to a Bank Holiday weekend, the majority of people will take additional holiday days either side of the weekend. So for B2Bs email, it’s vital you get the timing right.
Authenticate your emails
When using email marketing providers such as Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp, emails are sent out by default using their own servers. This means there is a risk that your email won’t even make it to the recipient’s inbox.
To overcome this, you can authenticate your emails by adding a small TXT record to your domain’s DNS, so that the emails are effectively sent using your domain, rather than the email providers’ server name.
This will help to by-pass spam filters and get your emails delivered.
Try a different format of email
Traditional newsletter layouts can become a little tired and overtime there is always a natural drop off of readership. Try a different email format such as sending out an email that looks like an email, rather than a newsletter. Display content in new ways to spice it up for the reader.
Segment your data
The more you segment your data, the higher the open rate.
This is simply down to the relevance of your email. You may segment by location, customer-type, size or any number of ways. The more you can target a niche and speak to that audience segment, the more engaged they will be.
For example – sending out relevant upcoming events to those only from a particular region.
Keep it clean
The brilliant thing about most modern email marketing providers is that the software can help to automatically clean up your data.
For example, if an email address is no longer in use (hard bounce), these are automatically excluded from future send outs. The same for anyone that has un-subscribed from future updates. Not only does this save time in cleaning your data, it can also save you money from sending out emails to people that are no longer there.
To go even further, you should monitor soft bounces too – and for those that don’t engage with your email at all, consider removing them from your list altogether.
Content relevancy is essential
This goes hand in hand with segmenting your data, but take it a step further and monitor the content that people are actually clicking on to read. You can also do this with a/b split testing, but the next step is doing something about – many marketers miss this trick.
Only provide content that people are going to read.
Shorter subject lines work best
80% of all email campaigns that I send out do better with a shorter subject line. There are two main reasons for this. The first being that longer subject lines are cut off, so the reader never quite gets what you’re trying to say, and secondly, emails with longer subject lines are more likely to get red flagged by spam filters.
Less images, the better
Try and send emails with as few images as possible. There are many reasons why you should do this, but here are a few of the most common:
Emails that contain large images end up in the junk folder automatically.
Images don’t always download automatically, so the email may appear empty (so always use ALT text).
Emails with large file sizes (due to multiple images) may end up in the junk folder.
Add a preheader to your emails
You may have seen these before, but you may not know what they are. A preheader is a piece of text that you see next to the subject in your inbox (before you actually click on the email to open it). This preheader text is completely customisable and allows you to give readers a ‘heads up’ to what your email contains. Most email providers such as Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp allow you to change the text from the editor, so it’s really simple to do.
Send from a person, not a company
Personalise your emails as much as you can. In my experience, if a recipient receives an email from someone they don’t know, i.e. a department name or head, you’re lucky to get a 15% open rate. If you segment that data and send from individual account managers (whom the customer knows), that open rate figure rockets to more than 40%.
Avoid spam-like words
Words such as free, offer and exclusive all scream alarm bells to spam filters. So, please avoid these wherever possible.
Format your emails for mobile
On 100% of the emails that I sent out, each one is opened and read between 35 – 60% on a mobile device, so it’s essential that your email displays clearly on a range of screen sizes. The good thing is that most email providers provide you with this intelligence. So, next time, check your emails and look at the types of devices that your email is read on, and then make sure it can be read on them.