How to drive email open rates

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An email open rate is usually defined as the percentage of recipients who open an email that has been sent to them as part of a digital mail-out. Some people consider email to be dead because of the adoption of social media, however email is still alive and popular and isn’t likely to disappear any time soon. In fact it’s often still the most cost effective form of digital marketing and can generate some impressive returns on investment used wisely.

Let’s look at some ideas on how to improve your open rate.

1. Know your audience

Emailing to new, potential customers can be challenging. Many of them will perceive the message as spam if the spam filter hasn’t trashed it already. For this reason it is a good idea to use segmentation; that is to develop email lists based on previous reader behaviours. For example, if you have customers who frequently buy or use your services, it is highly likely that they will open your emails. Keep them in their own list. From there, you can develop lists based on the habits of your readers but make sure that each recipient is only in one list.

2. The Subject Line is everything!

This is the hook and will determine if they bother to open the email or trash it. That means you have to be creative. If you are regurgitating the same line as your competitors you aren’t going to stand out. Closely associated with the subject line is the sender field. Often the reader will take notice of the subject line in conjunction with the sender so make sure that you use a suitable name — “Susan at Bob’s Crisps” sounds better than a corporate sounding label like “Bob’s Crisps Corporation (Do Not Reply)”.

For mobile devices, the subject line may have a maximum length imposed on it so don’t bother writing long sentences. Keep them “short and sweet”.

3. Personalise your emails

These days people are as wary of spam. Some unethical sellers even buy email lists. By personalising your emails with the recipient’s first name and any additional information you know, your emails have a higher chance of being perceived in a positive light and therefore actually being opened. You might even choose to use some light humour if it is appropriate. Other ways to personalise emails are if you are an online retailer send them personalised product emails with items that you think they might like based on previous items that they have bought.

4. Choose every word carefully

Don’t send long emails that bombard the recipient with a wall of text. Their time is valuable so you need to help them by getting to the point fast. Be particularly mindful of what words you use in the subject line. Overusing certain words in your subject line can increase the risk of your email being flagged as spam by the ISP or email service provider. Also, consider asking the recipient to add you to their address book if they like your offerings. That way you will be whitelisted and less likely to have your mail trashed as spam.

5. Give an Opt-Out method

Finally, show you are not malicious by giving the recipient a method to unsubscribe. Make sure your system works; receiving promotions after unsubscribing can make people angry. If they unsubscribe, send a follow-up email telling them their “unsubscribe” was successful and invite them to give a reason why they unsubscribed or leave feedback about your business if they choose. You should also keep your email lists up-to-date by removing dead and erroneous addresses.

6. How to better manage emails

Press play! Tech expert Val Quinn gives small business owners tips on managing emails through inbox shortcuts.

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Luke Chaffey
Luke Chaffey is a senior member of the KBB Digital team, and heads up the search marketing division. With a keen eye on innovation and developing digital trends, Luke regularly attends the Google Partners Masterclass, and is also a prolific writer for websites such as Yahoo, The Australian Government (Digital Business sector), Kochie’s Business Builders, Smarter.Digital, KBB Digital.

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