Email marketing (and remarketing) is the holy grail of lead nurturing. For businesses, it equals to getting the phone number of that special someone with whom you just want to spend as much time as possible. It provides them with a convenient gateway into the private lives of their customers.
As you can see from this research, nearly 92 % of adults who use the internet also use email as a means of communication. A more recent study by Radicati shows that there were around 2.6 billion email users in 2015, with projections of steady growth in the future.
Businesses use email marketing because there is an enormous reach potential there but it’s not only that. They also use it because it is a great return on investment – for every $1 they invest they get $38 back in revenue. It’s not surprising that over 80 % of B2B companies use email as their primary form of marketing. That number is a little lower for B2C businesses but I believe it’s also steadily growing.
However, despite the numerous benefits of email marketing and the opportunities it creates for business, a great number of companies still don’t know how to use it properly.
When I sat down in front of my computer this morning I erased 7 emails from different companies – 4 got trashed without so much as a second glance and I even unsubscribed from 2 lists.
True, I lost interest in one or two subject matters but even then, these emails were supposed to get me to click, read, engage, and, preferably, convert.
As you can see, none of them did anything they were supposed to do. Some were too pushy, others completely off the mark, and one even read as if it were written by a six-year-old child. It had the word ‘OFFRE’ right there in the title! It went expressly into the trash folder.
Sometimes it actually pains me to do that – I know that those marketers went through serious trouble of putting that email together. They did their best.
Unfortunately, their best wasn’t good enough.
How to Get People to Read Your Emails
That prompted me to put together this little piece on ways to increase your email open rates. The list is not comprehensive – not by a long shot – so I invite you to drop down to the comments section if there is a tactic you’re using that’s been producing great results for you.
Write Killer Subject Lines
With email marketing, as with every other form of interruption marketing, first impressions are critical. The first things people see when they get an email from you are the sender and the subject line.
Your subject line needs to be personalized and compelling – it needs to promise a certain benefit to the reader that will be enough to trigger them to click on it and read through. Addressing the reader directly by name right in the subject line can dramatically increase the open rate of emails.
Same goes for power words. Power words are words that evoke emotion, promise something new, or entice the reader to find out more: words like ‘how to’, ‘skyrocketing’, ‘you’, ‘taxes’, and so on. Jonathan Morrow goes into great detail about it in his excellent post on Copyblogger.
… and Even Better Welcome Emails
Once you have a great subject line that invites people to click and read through your email, the last thing you want to do is disappoint them. However, good welcome emails come in many shapes and forms and will depend on your target audience.
The one thing they can’t be is a snooze-fest. My suggestion would be to welcome the new subscriber into the tribe and let them know what they can expect from you. Put in essential information such as frequency of your emails, the topics you will be covering, an open invite to contact you if they have any questions and so on. Rule of thumb – if the email is long it better be useful.
You can take an alternative approach and simply introduce yourself asking the subscriber why they opted in and what do they expect to get from your emails.
Botching your welcome email can quickly lead to people unsubscribing. If you want more tips on how to nail it from the get go, here’s some interesting reading material from the pen of Smartblogger’s very own Arman Thakur.
Time Your Emails Correctly
Timing your emails correctly is critically important for boosting your open rates. It’s also one of the things that businesses struggle with the most because it’s difficult to get just right.
It depends on many factors – your industry, frequency of your emails, types of content you’re sending out, and so on. However, it mostly depends on your audience because different demographics are active online at different times.
Play with this – if your subscribers are mostly older business people then it’s smart to send your emails early in the morning while they are at their computer. On the other hand, if you’re targeting millennials try sending those emails in the evening – research shows that they open their emails on hand-held devices and are most active from 9 PM to 12 AM.
Source: Marketing Cloud
Segment Your List for Better Results
One of the most frequent mistakes businesses make in email marketing is sending bulk messages to absolutely everyone on their list – that’s right, their one list!
Half of those emails miss the mark completely and are responsible for high subscriber churn rates. Remember, not everyone on your list is interested in the same things, especially if you have more than one offer. Also, not everyone is in the same purchasing phase or facing the same battles in life.
Acknowledge the fact that people are different and that your approach to them needs to reflect that. Slicing and dicing an email list is not difficult but can be extremely beneficial to your bottom line.
Be Authentic and Real
I know you’re expecting me to go off on a tangent about how important it is to provide your subscribers with unique content that they didn’t get a chance to see anywhere else.
I won’t because I seriously hope you know that much.
But I will say one thing that I’ve mentioned already – the first things that people see when they get an email from you is who is the sender and the subject line. I’ve covered the subject line. Let’s focus on the sender.
A good example of ‘keeping it real’ is signing your emails with a first name , that is personalizing the sender address. So instead of it appearing as ‘XYZ Company’ the sender box actually says ‘Tony from XYZ Company’.
Of course, never have it say ‘Tony Jenkins’, unless that’s your company name or a name that subscribers will recognize because that is what they actually opted in for. It’s important to be recognizable right from the start. Adding a personal touch to it, however, is sure to increase your opened emails.
Re-send Your Best Content
This is a tactic many marketers are reluctant to try out because they fear it might cost them subscribers. They are partially right too – abusing this tactic will get you absolutely nowhere. However, using it sparingly and when you have a good reason to can significantly boost your open and click-through rates.
Let me explain.
If you were to get two emails about a great offer from a company XYZ in two consecutive days with the subject line ‘Buy Our New Whatever at a Discounted Price!’ you would probably trash both of those emails and unsubscribed from the list.
However, if the second email came through and the subject line said ‘Other Readers Made Me Resend This Because it So Damn Useful! – well, now we’re getting somewhere. I would be intrigued and I’m sure you would be too.
Again, use this sparingly and only for content you really want and need to reach the maximum number of your subscribers. Also, make sure you don’t resend it to people who’ve opened it the first time around. They might get frustrated because they’re getting the same email twice and there’s no reason for that – not when there’s an easy way around it. Check the forum of your service provider to find out how to create un-opened lists.
Email marketing is constant work. If you thought you would simply set up an autoresponder and be done with it… sorry to break it to you but it’s not how it works. Fortunately, constant work doesn’t really mean hard work. All these tactics are easy to implement and learn. Getting a 10 % increase in opens might mean a percentage point increase in sales and then all your work was worth it.
As I said, there are definitely more tricks you can use to make your open rates go up. If you have a particular tactic you like using, make sure to leave a comment and I’ll try it out!