Email marketing isn’t dead.
With email nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter, it is very much alive.
That’s great news – provided your open rates aren’t suffering. After all, conversions are a moot point if your emails aren’t being opened to begin with.
What you can do is focus on what it is that is killing your open rates and then get to work at fixing them. Let’s take a look at five all-too-common offenders.
It should come as no surprise that email subject lines impact open rate. In fact, 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.
We all receive tons of emails on a daily basis and many of them remain unopened. Subject lines have to be strong if they are going to jump out at you from the inbox. So how do you write an eye-catching subject line that entices subscribers to click?
Just for fun, I want to share one of the worst subject lines I’ve seen in my inbox recently.
A little context: I’m looking to get a new place and am registered with a few estate agents who regularly send me emails with property details.
Although I am 100% interested in the email content, I wouldn’t have known from the subject line. Here’s why it falls short:
A better subject line for this email would have been:
6 new houses in E17. £300,000 – £375,000. Book a viewing for this weekend.
Putting time into crafting good subject line copy is essential if you want your emails to be opened. Consider what the reader has shown an interest in, or add something that is personally relevant.
The poor example above would have been much more successful if the sender had made use of segmentation to target my location and price range. If you can’t segment your audience based on interests, location or other factors, then you will not be able to write subject line copy that is relevant to them. This in turn affects your open rates.
MailChimp analyzed the open rates for over 200 million emails and found that segmented campaigns have an average of 14.4% better open rate than non-segmented campaigns.
The aim is to move away from mass email blasts (where the entire list receives the exact same message) in favor of a more segmented approach. This helps marketers send more relevant messages. Your email list could be segmented by:
There are many other ways to segment an email list and the key is to get started. If you don’t yet have any of the above data on your customers, you can start collecting it by asking customers what they are interested in your autoresponder welcome series.
The example below is the page I was directed to after signing up for the H&M mailing list. They asked me to submit gender and location details – likely so they can segment email campaigns more effectively.
If you are able to access purchase data, you might consider sending upsells or cross-sells based on items customers have purchased previously. Below is an email I received from Amazon recently. I was sent this because they knew that I had purchased a book by the same author and thought I may be interested in their new title. I was interested, so I opened the email and guess what? I bought the book.
Multichannel retailer SwayChic implemented a segmentation strategy and saw fantastic results. They ran various tests and customized emails based on their customers’ purchase behavior (one-time buyer, frequent or inactive customer). The result? They increased average open rates by 40%!
The better your segmentation, the higher your open rates will be and in turn, the more effective your marketing campaigns will become.
Automated emails are emails that are triggered by events such as a purchase or a download. They can also be triggered by:
These types of emails have been seen to yield 71% higher open rates and 102% higher click rates than non-triggered email messages. This is huge. Triggered emails are not only segmented, but they are also sent in a timely manner. And that ensures that they are relevant to the subscriber.
The example below is a triggered email I was sent a few days after browsing concert tickets. I had the tickets in my cart, but didn’t complete the transaction. The next day I received this email, with a discount incentive to complete my order.
What did I do? I opened it immediately because it was relevant to me and the concert was still on my mind.
Side note: The Stereophonics are awesome live.
Whether you’re collecting bad data, not removing hard bounces or emailing inactive subscribers, lazy list management can affect your open rates. Ultimately, being lazy about managing your list results in one of two things:
You guessed it – both of these are bad for open rates.
So how can you be more responsible about managing your list?
43% of email recipients click the spam button based on the “from” name or email address, so it’s important that email recipients know who you are and expect to receive emails from you. And it’s extremely important that you have their permission.
Building a permission based in-house list isn’t difficult. Here are a few tips to get started:
Below is a good example of a newsletter signup form used by H&M. They give an outline about the type of information they will be sending (offers, style tips and fashion news) and also offer a discount incentive for each sign up.
They could have taken it a step further and stated how often they will send marketing emails.
Once an in-house list of email subscribers has been built, it’s important to manage it effectively. Here are some basics you should know:
Which brings me to my next point…
Another major factor which affects open rates is poor overall deliverability and low engagement with past campaigns.
Deliverability and list management are closely linked. Sending campaigns to a permission-based list is less likely to result in deliverability issues as recipients are expecting to receive emails and are more likely to engage.
ISPs will look at who you are sending to, how often, the number of abuse complaints from sends and whether email is opened or clicked on. All of these factors determine your reputation with your ISP and affect whether your emails are delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes.
83% of the time, if your email isn’t arriving at its destination, it’s due to poor reputation with ISPs.
Don’t fret! There are many ways to ensure your email is delivered:
Here’s an example of a preference center we use at Yola:
The key to improving open rates is to send relevant emails to recipients who want to hear from you. It’s as simple as that.
If your open rates are suffering, your recipient either doesn’t know you or just isn’t interested in the content of your campaign.
Anticipate (and avoid) this by effectively segmenting lists by personal or purchase data. Sending targeted messages in a timely manner will increase the relevancy of campaigns and make subscribers want to open your emails.
Coupled with conscientious list management and a stellar subject line (that you’re A/B testing, of course), you are bound to see open rates improving.
Have you employed any of these strategies in your email marketing campaign? Tell us about your results in the comments below.