Email Marketing: How to Increase Open Rates

email marketing

email marketing: how to increase open rates
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Email marketing is highly regarded as one of most efficient forms of direct marketing in the digital age. Now, companies can create custom campaigns with the intention to drive sales, develop customer loyalty, and convey important information. Email marketing is highly segmented in the sense that you’re sending a widespread message directly to your target audience. Companies often rely on email marketing to send coupons, advertisements, donations and invitations for consultations. However, one of the key ingredients to a successful email marketing campaign comes down to the open rate.


If you’re looking to expand your email campaign efforts, look no further. Open rates are a key metric in email marketing that determines overall campaign effectiveness. An open rate is the percentage of recipients who clicked on your email and viewed your message. Open rates are presented as percentages based on the number of people who opened your message versus the total number of recipients. Why are they important? In email marketing the first impression your audience has of your campaign is through your subject line. Open rates are typically seen as a great way of judging subject line effectiveness and subject relevancy. If you have a high open rate, chances are your recipients really resonated with your message prompting them to want more. If not, then it’s possible your subject line might need a little work. Average open rates for email campaigns typically fall within the 20-40% range.


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Calculating your open rate is a simple process. You start by dividing the number of unique opens by the total number of emails, minus the bounce rate. Bounce rates are important because they are a good indicator of invalid email addresses. The bounce rate is the percentage of subscribers who did not receive your message because it was returned by the mail server. The example below illustrates how to calculate the open rate if you sent an email to 500 subscribers and 30 emails bounced back – this means that 470 emails successufully reached your customers; however, if your data shows you that only 100 people opened your email, then the open rate is 21%.

5 Tips to Increase Open Rates

The following is a list of methods that can greatly improve your email campaign strategy. Scoring a higher open rate is a good sign that your message resonates with your intended audience. Companies want to be able to foster direct contact with their clients, what better way to accomplish that task than through email? 

1. Consistently Update Your List
Email lists are vital to launching an effective campaign because they’re your target audience. Prior to launch, it’s highly recommended to go through the email addresses on your list and remove any recent bounce backs or request to unsubscribe. Consistency is key, as time passes some users update their email information which renders the old addresses invalid. Keeping your list fresh, valid, and up to date will greatly minimize your bounce rate. Periodically scrubbing your list for inactive or unsubscribed users allows you to stay in touch with an active audience for an extended period.

 2. Personalize Your Email
People are more receptive to receiving highly personalized content, and that includes emails! Personalized messages on average rank a higher chance of being read by users. Consumers want to feel as if you’re addressing their needs directly as opposed to receiving generic emails which can be perceived as spam. Knowing your buyer persona will greatly increase the relevancy of your message and give a better response rate overall.

 3. Write a Short but Catchy Subject Line
Subject lines are your recipient’s first impression of your campaign. A nondescript subject line can break your campaign due to low open rates. For an eye catching and succinct message, keep the subject line under 200 characters. Subject lines that incorporate a question or use an emoji have a higher success rate as opposed to those that don’t. Consumers are drawn to subject lines that are light-hearted, funny, or have a conversational tone.

 4. Perfect Your Timing
The timing of your email delivery is a huge component in overall campaign success. The time of launch determines whether your audience will interact with your campaign. According to data collected by MailChimp, peak time differs by industry and can be segmented by location, occupation, and age. On average, the best time to send campaigns across industries is 10 am in the recipients’ time zone. With your specific campaign, think of your buyer persona, when are they most likely to be online? Is it in the morning? The evening? Having an idea of buyer’s behavior will help you better pinpoint an ideal launch time that will maximize exposure.

 5. Watch Out for Spam Folders
Spam folders are the final dumping ground for unwanted and unsolicited messages. Once your message ends up there, the capacity for email reach is severely diminished. Smart and effective email campaigns put practices in place to avoid spam at all costs. Practices such as verifying that your recipients have opted-in to your subscriber’s list, providing an easy way for consumers to unsubscribe, and most importantly, sending from a valid IP address. If you’re sending emails from an IP address that has been flagged, it’s very likely your campaign will end up in the spam folder, and worse your sender’s address added to a blacklist.

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Email Marketing has taken hold as one of the easiest forms of digital marketing methods available. Today it’s imperative to analyze specific metrics such as open rates to give a clearer picture of the campaign’s performance. Open rates are a powerful indicator that can provide valuable insight for overall campaign effectiveness. They help indicate which subject lines are better performers and which messages are relevant to specific audiences which further streamlines the email marketing process.