The average person takes 3 to 4 seconds to decide whether they will open an email
70% of people read their emails on a mobile device
Remember the boy who cried wolf?
That story where a kid got bored of watching over sheep, so he ran around claiming there was a wolf, all for a goof? Eventually people stopped falling for the joke and didn’t pay attention to him anymore when the wolf actually came.
We think he wouldn’t have made a good email marketer. A good digital marketing agency could’ve let him know why spam—and tricking your audience with misdirection in your subject lines—just doesn’t work. If you want to make sure your business’s email campaign gets high email open rates, there are several key tips we can give you to make sure people are actually reading your content.
We want you to be heard, so here’s a comprehensive guide on how to increase email open rates for your email marketing strategy. But if you’re new to this area of online marketing, let’s start with some of the basics.
What is Email Open Rate?
Email open rate is a metric you can use to help measure the success of your email marketing campaign. It represents the number of emails you’ve sent out that are actually opened. This doesn’t take into account the number of emails that bounce back; meaning, they never reached their recipient.
For example, if you send out 60 emails, and ten are returned undeliverable, that would leave you with 50 delivered emails. If from those 50, ten are opened, then that leaves your campaign with a 25% email open rate.
What Counts as an Opened Email?
Emails are counted as “opened” if: the recipient enables images in your email to be displayed as a preview, or in a full view of the email. Or, if the recipient clicks a link in the email itself.
Other relevant terms for email campaigns include:
Click-Through Rate: The rate that people click on ads or call-to-action messages (CTAs) in your email.
Click-to-Open Rate: Measures the percentage of recipients who opened the email and clicked on that link.
Open rate, click-through rate, and click-to-open rate are the most common metrics we as digital marketers use to determine how effective your email marketing campaign is while it runs. This means that your email subject lines, body content, and overall design have to be persuasive and engaging without being (or seeming) deceptive.
Statistics for Average Email Campaign Success Rates
Now that you know the basics, here are some helpful numbers that can give you some idea of where you stand:
15% – Average email open-rate
43% – Average click-through rate
49% – Average click-to-open rate
20% – Average email unsubscribe rate
02% – Average email spam complaint rate
Keep in mind that these statistics will vary further depending on your industry and target market. Different industries experience different results to increase email open rates. For example, emails from non-profit companies have the highest open rate at 36.15%, while agencies have the lowest at 16.10%.
These metrics also depend on the market. Germany has the highest open rate at 40%, while the United States hovers a couple of percentage points below the average around 19%.
That’s something to keep in mind when you analyze your campaign. You may have to adjust your expectations according to those variables in your target market.
Cool, But How Do I Get People to Open My Emails?
Don’t worry, we know that’s why you’re really here.
Getting the contacts on your email list to open up those emails actually starts with narrowing down your list.
Ask yourself: is there information in this email that’s more relevant for some people on your list than others? You can increase your open rates by creating smaller, more specifically targeted groups of emails.
This process is called segmentation, and it’s been shown to create lower unsubscribe rates and better deliverability. For example, you could send an announcement for a new promotion only to people who are subscribed to your rewards program, not your entire emailing list.
With the right audience in mind, you then need to think about where your email is coming from. People are more likely to open an email that is coming from a person, instead of a company. Seeing a company name on the “From” section of an email causes distrust among potential viewers, so make sure that your email shows that is coming from a real person.
Nailing that Subject Line
A reader will decide within three to four seconds whether or not they will open your email. This gives you a short window to grab the reader’s attention, and it makes the subject line the most important factor for an open rate.
In order to get this right, keep in mind that companies have been recycling the same subject line formulas for years. So you need to stay away from overdone, and frankly annoying subject lines that’ll see your email land in the spam folder.
Think about writing your subject line as if you were the reader. Would you want to open something that reads, “READ THIS NOW FOR OUR BEST DEALS ON WOLF REPELLANT?”
Probably not. It just reads like spam ad-copy and is unappealing.
Also, steer away from wonky all-caps subject lines. Remember you’re trying to entice the reader. Do this through humor, using numbers (there’s something about numbers that people are captivated by, that’s why listicles often do so well), or a fun conversational tone.
You’re writing to people, after all, so use language that your subscribers might use when talking to their friends.
Tone and Length Will Help Increase Email Open Rates
In keeping with the friendly and approachable tone, consider using the person’s name and writing as though you are talking to just that person. Turns out that people are much more likely to read an email if their name is associated with it.
If you don’t get to the point of the email or grab the reader’s attention because the subject is too long, you are doing yourself a disservice.
What Does a Good Subject Line Look Like?
Glad you asked! Here are some examples:
“Happy Birthday, Jerry! Here’s our gift to you!”
“Planning to Attend? RSVP Below!”
“Time is Running Out to Find Out What this Email is All About”
“8 Easy Steps to Survive a Wolf Attack”
“People Losing Trust in You? Gain it Back!”
“Be the Wolf!”
You get the idea. Keep the tone fun and conversational while drawing intrigue and familiarity and you are sure to get the attention of your reader.
Personalization is important in the subject line as well as the body of the email. We understand that you are writing to a large audience, but if the email feels like it’s tailor-made to the recipient then you are more likely to catch and keep their attention.
When Should You Send Those Emails Out?
The timing of your email is nearly as important as your subject line. As you’ll see below, there are optimal times to send out an email to maximize the likelihood that it’ll be seen and opened.
Keep your audience in mind. What’s best for the average email user might not be best for your target audience in particular.
Timing & Relevancy
One of the most important factors in the timing of your email will be relevancy. Any business that provides a subscription service should have some sort of auto-generated “thank you” or “welcome” email sent to a new subscriber. That’s just good business practice.
Those emails in particular should be sent right away as the user will have your company fresh in their mind and are more likely to open the email.
Now look at this graph showing open rates throughout different times of the day:
As you can see, the open rate (green line) peaks between 9 – 10 AM and then again between 12 – 1 PM. This indicates that people are most often looking through their emails in the morning as they’re coming into work and then in the afternoon as they’re coming back from lunch.
Take these patterns of daily living into account when organizing an email marketing campaign. Users are also more likely to open your email throughout the workweek, so try not to send out mass emails on the weekends unless your industry adheres to a different pattern than the average email user.
Timing & Frequency
The final note on timing relates to frequency. Perhaps your business sends out content directly to users on a regular basis, like in newsletters, promotions, blogs, or other types of editorials.
For this kind of email, the frequency which guarantees the highest open rate tends to be one per week. You want to take up some of your readers’ mental bandwidth, so they keep you in mind, but aren’t overwhelmed with content.
Sending out too many emails will put you in danger of being unsubscribed and experiencing drops in open rates. One newsletter-type email per week seems to be ideal for most people. Do keep it regular, but don’t over saturate inboxes with your content.
Want to Increase Email Open Rates with a Dynamic Email Marketing Strategy?
You now have the tools to get you started with an effective marketing campaign. Following these basic principles will keep you from reaching the metaphorical fate of the kid who cried wolf. You’ll be able to increase your email open rates over time and gain even more subscribers!
But this is just the beginning. Conducting an effective marketing campaign takes coordination, analytics, and most importantly a knowledgeable team, so contact us today to started!
Alexandra is a content specialist, graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has a passion for literature and writing, and has extensive experience in content writing for digital marketing.
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