Understanding email open rates - Part 3
Five ways to improve your email open rates
The more you know about your recipients, their interests and what they respond to, the easier it is to craft emails that will cater to them. The result will be an increase in your open rate. Have you segmented your list? It is truly worth the time and effort. You'll be able to craft different versions of your emails with nuances that get attention and keep it over the long term.
Improve your subject lines
The subject line is like an advertisement for the content. If you lose the reader at this point they will never open your email, let alone read it. Be consistent with the opening so that readers can become familiar with your emails ... a little like the nameplate or masthead on your favourite newspaper or magazine. As I'm writing, our Image 7 Group team newsletter hit my inbox. Its subject line is always consistent - I7 :: The Brief :: 11 October 2006. I know it's from Image 7 Group (I7 is our internal shorthand) ... I know the content is the newsletter called "The Brief" and it's the 11 October edition. Where we've used the date, your subject line might offer a benefit that lets the receiver know 'what's in it for me' (WIIFM). Avoid all capital letters, exclamation points, and words like "free" and "sale" - they are red flags to spam programs.
Test your timing
Sometimes, sending at a different time or even a different day will achieve a higher open rate. There's no hard and fast rule on what works best, but reports suggest improvements of 15 - 20 per cent just by changing the time of day. Mid-week days have also been reported with better responses, but this will depend entirely on your business category and who your audience is. There's a lot of data out there, but the only data that counts is yours. Test, test and then test some more. The beauty of email marketing is that it is relatively cheap to test and you can implement what you've learned immediately.
Check your "from" name
Second to your subject line is the "from" field ... the name. Will your audience easily recognise it? In my earlier example, I showed us using "I7" as shorthand for "Image 7 Group" which isfine for this particular audience - as our team, they all know what it means. But it would be very cryptic if we used it in the "name" field for a wider audience. Often a person's name isn't highly recognised, but their company name is. Best practice is to always use your organisation's name. The quickest way to email deletion is to have an unrecognised name in the "from" field.
Consider your frequency
If you send too frequently, your audience may begin to hate you. Don't send frequently enough and they may not recognise you. It's a conundrum with a simple answer. Start from the premise that your audience is in control. They can delete you with one button ... now that's control. Companies often think they are giving control back to recipients by surveying them and asking how often they would like to receive emails from them. Frankly, that's old world thinking that assumes you still only have one version available to you. We're talking about email here - you can have multiple editions with ease. So give your audience options. They could sign up for weekly, fortnightly or monthly editions. Let the audience decide and then deliver.