Open Rates are the first vital clue to the health of your email marketing. A high open rate indicates that you are consistently providing your subscriber list with valuable and useful promotions and information. A low open rate tells you that there is work to be done on your strategy and execution.
This article has been designed to help you learn more around open rates and as well how you can go about increasing your open rate.
What Is a High Open Rate?
Surveys taken across the email marketing industry show that an open rate anywhere between 35% and 50% can be considered to be an excellent achievement.
Remember, that your audience is full of busy people who are being constantly bombarded with advertising and marketing messages. Email is a quick and easy form of communication, but it is also quick and easy to ignore and/or dispose of messages that aren’t deemed urgent or important.
You will never get everyone to open your emails. If you are regularly achieving close to 100% open rate, you are either a genius, or you are not sending your campaigns to enough people. Your objective should be to improve your existing open rate steadily over time.
What Prompts Someone To Want To Open an Email?
Opening an email is a decision that is made in a very short time – a matter of seconds (or sometimes even less). Think about your own email habits, and the thoughts that go through your mind as you go through your over-crowded inbox each day.
There are a few clues you and every email user use to determine the value of opening an email:
- Who is the email from?
- What has been my experience of emails from this person in the past?
- What is the email subject?
- How many other emails do I have to deal with?
And it pretty much happens in that order. The end result is a simple decision with three options:
- Open the email and read it.
- Delete the email.
- Ignore the email (and possibly return to it later).
The decision really comes down to a trade-off between time and expected value. If the recipient expects to get some benefit from opening the email, they will most likely open it. If they expect to get little benefit from opening it, they will delete it or ignore it. If they ignore it, they may or may not come back to it, and the same decision making process is repeated.
Things That May Affect Your Open Rate
As noted above, the perception of value is key to your open rate. But it is not the only factor. Trust is also critical, and in many cases is more important. The volume of Spam (unsolicited emails) that is sent every day means people are very protective of their inbox.
If they do not recognise the name in the “From” column, the email is unlikely to be opened. Even if they do recognise the name, if it is not a name they trust, it is unlikely to be opened.
Here are the main factors that will affect your open rate:
- Familiarity with, and level of trust in you by the recipient.
- Past experience with your emails, and the perception of the value they contain.
- Attractiveness of the subject line.
- Timing and frequency of your campaigns.
Unfortunately there is not a set of rules to tell you exactly how to maximise each of these. However, by focusing on these four factors, you can expect to see steady improvement over time.
How To Improve Your Open Rate
Below is a list of helpful marketing tips to help you increase your open rates over time.
Send From Your Own Domain
Sending from a freemail address (such as a Bigpond, Xtra, Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo-style email address) can affect your email deliverability and thus, your open rate.
Freemail Email Domain vs. Your Own Professional Email Domain.
Improving Familiarity And Trust
- Be consistent: use the same From Name every time.
- Personalise: make each email seem like a personal message, not a mass mail-out.
- When subscribers Opt In to your list: send them a Welcome email using the same From name they will see in your campaigns.
- When users add themselves or you add them to your list: send them a Welcome email explaining why they were added, what they will get, and how they can opt out if they choose. Use the same From name they will see in your campaigns.
- Consistency in branding: keep the look of your emails the same so your audience recognises and remembers you.
Improving Perception Of Value
- Content: make sure the content of your emails is useful, relevant and interesting to your audience.
- Offers: make sure the offers you make represent genuine value to your audience.
- Target the right customers: more relevant, targeted offers are more likely to be opened than one-size-fits-all campaigns.
- Ask for feedback: contact a sample of the customers who aren’t opening your emails and ask them what would work better for them.
- Ask for feedback: use surveys to make sure the customers who are opening your emails will want to keep opening them in the future.
- Email aesthetics: How easy were the previous emails to read?
Improving Subject Lines
- Focus on the customer: what is most important to them.
- Be consistent: Use similar phrases or key words in each mailing to provide cues to your customers.
- Test: try different approaches with small samples of your list to see which is most effective.
- Don’t be misleading as this negatively affects the trust of your recipients.
Improving Timing & Frequency
- Be considerate: don’t send too much too often.
- Be consistent: send campaigns at a similar time, and at a regular interval so your contacts start to expect its arrival.
- Ask your recipients how often they would like to receive your communications.
We have a detailed article outlining email best practices - including choice of images, email width, use of colour, content, ensuring those with a visual or cognitive impairment can still interact with your email (email accessibility), and much more.