Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels. It allows you to send targeted messages, expand your audience, and develop strong customer relationships.
However, there's one catch: you must ensure that subscribers open your emails.
You most certainly want people to read your emails. And ideally, you want them to take action that benefits your business. Whether it's replying, visiting your website, or clicking a promotional link.
How to ensure that this happens? By focusing on increasing open rates.
In this article, we share simple strategies you can use to increase email open rates and get more people to open your emails.
What is an email open rate?
As the name suggests, an email open rate is the percentage of subscribers who opened your email. But it's crucial to note that an email counts as opened only when one of the following happens:
- The recipient downloads the email's images.
- The recipient clicks on a link inside the email.
Confused by the part about downloading images? Here's what it's all about.
Open rates are tracked by using a one-pixel transparent image inserted in emails. When the recipient opens an email, the image is downloaded, and the server records an "open" for that email.
Now, before we get into the specifics of how to increase email open rates, let's look at how to calculate them.
Email open rate formula:
Open Rate = (Unique Opens ÷ (Sent Emails - Bounced Emails)) x 100
Unique Opens - the number of times an individual subscriber opened your email.
Sent Emails - the total number of emails you have sent.
Bounced Emails - emails that got rejected by a mail server.
Typically, you'll see email open rates alongside metrics like click-through, conversion and unsubscribe rates. All of these are significant, but open rates are the best place to start when evaluating your email marketing efforts. Ultimately, you improve other vital metrics by improving email open rates.
Why does open rate matter?
If you don't get that "open", all of your hard work developing the perfect body copy and positioning your CTAs in just the right places is for naught. Simply said, no one will see it.
So, if you had to pick just one metric to focus on, look for ways to increase email open rates.
Open rates can help you better understand several important aspects of your email marketing strategy, including:
- The quality of your mailing list. Are you trying to reach the wrong people? When you look at email opening rates, you start piecing a better picture of whether or not you have a well-defined target audience.
- The market authority of your brand. Email open rates provide insight into how recipients perceive the value of your communications. Do they view it as valuable and trustworthy or as spammy and suspicious?
- The health of your customer relationships. Email open rates are excellent indicators of how interested people are in what you have to say or offer.
Which factors can impact the open rate of your emails?
Several factors may impact your email open rate. Although some may appear challenging to overcome, remember that with the correct tips, you can fix everything!
Here are 5 factors that can impact your email open rate:
People join your email list because they are interested in what you have to say. Therefore, it's crucial to acknowledge their loyalty by sending them relevant and valuable content that will entice them to open the emails.
Make sure your email's content is something your subscribers will enjoy. Customize it to provide helpful information to readers and to entertain them as well. Also, target the audience interested in what specific email has to offer.
This way, you maximize the chances that they'll see it and open it.
The time of the day you send your emails may also affect your open rates. But, unfortunately, there is no universal "perfect time".
Actually, your audience determines the "perfect" send time for you. Most of them might read emails in the morning, but it might also be in the afternoon.
The only way to find out is to test it. Try sending your emails at different hours throughout the day to determine the most effective time. Then, stick to it.
Since you invest time and effort into improving email open rates, you undoubtedly want to stay in touch with your subscribers. However, it's critical not to send too many messages or too few.
Again, there's no "perfect" number for how many emails to send. It depends on your business and your audience's preferences.
So, test various frequencies until you find one that works for you. Divide the subscribers into two groups and send more emails to one group than the other. See which one has the higher open rate.
Important note: wait for the answers. Repeat the tests and assess the results after a more extended period, ideally after several months.
High-quality email lists typically have higher open rates. And to have a high-quality list, you should grow it organically. By tricking people into signing up for emails, you risk having your messages ignored or, worse - reported as spam.
Additionally, you must regularly check if your subscribers are still interested in hearing from you. Unfortunately, some customers lose interest in your company over time.
To avoid bothering them or emailing inactive accounts, you should frequently refresh the subscriber list. Setting a particular time frame to remove inactive contacts, such as every six months, is the best way to maintain your list's health.
Catchy subject lines are one of the key elements that increase email open rates.
They are the hook that will pique subscribers' interest and entice them to open your messages. So, to improve email open rates, you must focus on writing compelling subject lines that recipients can't help but open.
Here are a few tips to make your subject lines stand out:
- Use curiosity, humor, urgency, etc.
- Avoid overusing capital letters and punctuation.
- Address your target audience's challenges, needs, and desires.
What is a typical open rate?
There is no such thing as a typical open rate. It varies depending on the size of the list, how frequently you send emails, the industry you're in, and other factors. Your open rates will differ even within your own campaigns.
But how can you tell if you're headed in the correct direction then?
Luckily, a few common trends can help you answer this question. The first is that larger lists typically have lower open rates. They have a wider audience, so more people are mildly interested in your content. With smaller lists, proportionally more people are your brand's true fans.
Second, open rates significantly vary amongst industries. According to 2022 data, government-related emails had the highest open rates, at 28.77%. With a 27.74% open rate, emails sent by hobby-related senders rank second. And in third place, with 27.62%, came emails discussing religious topics.
The average open rate across all industries in 2022 was 21.33%.
As we can see, some industries have higher rates than the all-industries average, but 20%-30% open rates are considered typical. Therefore, this range can be a good reference for your email marketing efforts.
Now that you understand what open rates are and why they are important let's dive into tips that will help you increase email open rates.
How to increase email open rates?
Create Valuable Content
Improving email open rates doesn't end once subscribers have opened your first message. You must ensure that they open every other email you send them.
So, how do you achieve that?
By providing your audience with something valuable and relevant to them at the moment they receive the message.
Ask yourself: "What is in this email for subscribers?", "Do they need this information now?".
Remember that the content of your emails must always provide some form of value to readers if you want them to open your messages again.
Here are some ways to add value to your campaigns:
- Provide how-to tips on a common challenge that your audience faces.
- Include links to useful resources, such as a free eBook, a helpful blog article, or a webinar.
- Notify customers when their favorite item is on sale.
- Celebrate subscribers' birthdays and anniversaries with special discounts in your emails.
- Make sure to clearly communicate the main point of your message in the subject line and body of the email.
Personalize Your Emails
Personalization is an effective method to make an email feel less sales-y. It helps you develop a sense of trust in your brand and ultimately enables you to increase email open rates.
Personalizing your emails can be as easy as adding the recipient's first name in the subject line or as complex as dynamically altering graphic content based on previous subscribers' activities and preferences.
Here are a few ideas for personalizing your emails:
- Include the subscriber's first name in the subject line. Personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened!
- Subscriber anniversary. Create an automated campaign that celebrates the anniversary of your brand's relationship with your subscriber.
- Write as if you were speaking to a specific person. Invest time in learning about your buyer's challenges, needs, values, and desires. Then, address them in your messaging.
Important note: keep it human. Write as if you are a friend offering them a great opportunity or sharing exciting information.
Segment Subscriber List
Segmenting your subscriber list is one of the most effective ways to increase email open rates.
Segmenting entails grouping email addresses of people who have some similar traits. It allows you to send the right emails to the right audience rather than bombarding everyone with the same message.
In other words, this practice enables you to send more relevant and targeted emails. As a result, people will be more likely to interact with your brand.
Some common methods for segmenting your subscribers are:
- Age and gender
- Stage in the sales funnel
- Place of residence
- Time on the email list
- Past interactions
Once you've built your segments, consider what kind of information those people might want to receive from you. Also, think about what you want them to do after they read your email. For each segmented list, develop a unique set of content subjects, and modify your tone of writing accordingly.
Avoid Spam Filters
Mailboxes are getting more strict with their spam filters. If your email gets caught by one of them, it will never land in your subscriber's primary inbox. Of course, this lowers your open rates and negatively impacts your sender's reputation.
How do you avoid the "spam folder" scenario?
Here are some best practices for preventing your emails from ending up in spam folders:
- Verify that every recipient has opted in to receive your emails.
- When creating the subject line, stay away from words like "free", "winner", "cash", etc.
- Ask subscribers to add you to their contact list.
- Take action to improve email deliverability (higher email deliverability is directly proportional to higher open rates).
- Provide a simple method for subscribers to stop receiving your emails.
Try all these to avoid spam filters and successfully improve email open rates.
Track Open Rates
Track open rates for each campaign and compare the results to see which performed the best. Then, assess the specifics to determine why this was the case.
A shorter subject line may have resulted in higher open rates or emails sent on specific days received most opens. Also, a campaign with a conversational tone could be more successful than a formal variant.
It's crucial to ensure your next campaign incorporates all valuable insights to achieve even better results.
Perform A/B tests
Imagine knowing what works best for your audience. Well, you don't have to dream about it - test it!
A/B tests are another excellent way to increase email open rates.
A/B test or "split test" your emails to determine what works and what doesn't. Test your subject lines, CTAs, images, and just about anything. You can also test different sending times and days.
When it's time to launch the campaign, employ the subject lines, hours, days, and other elements that performed well during split testing.
Then - relax and watch your email opening rates grow.
Include Enticing Preheader
A preheader text displays after the subject line in the email preview.
Along with the subject line, the preheader is your ally in improving email open rates. It is where you should give subscribers a brief description of the email content and entice them to open it.
Here are some tips and ideas for good preheaders:
- Keep your preheader short, at 30-80 characters.
- Don't duplicate the subject line.
- Include a question to pique the reader's interest.
- Instill a sense of urgency by offering a limited-time sale, coupons, etc.
Optimize For Mobiles
61.9% of email opens take place on mobiles, compared to only 9.8% on desktops, and 28.3% in a webmail client.
This means you have to send emails that function perfectly on mobile devices.
Ensure that all of your messages have responsive designs and loadable media. Also, when creating an email, preview it on various devices. It's a simple step that ensures it appears beautiful across different platforms.
The following are some more tips for creating mobile-friendly campaigns:
- Use up to 9 words and 60 characters in the subject line so it can fully display on mobile devices.
- Use a larger font. It's easier to read on mobile devices.
- Add a more noticeable CTA button. It's more convenient to tap on a bigger button while on mobile.
- Include smaller images to speed up loading time.
Include Humorous Phrases
The majority of emails are formal and serious. That is why a humorous subject line or phrase within the body copy will make a great impression on your subscribers.
Humorous phrases grab the readers' attention, make them smile, and ignite the interest you need to increase email open rates.
Don't worry - creating a funny email doesn't require you to be a comic. What matters is to understand your subscribers. Knowing their interests will make pulling off a joke or making a humorous reference much simpler.
Here are three simple ways to add humor to your emails:
- Write catchy subject lines. Interestingly explain the email's content. For example: "Seven and a Half Steps to Perfect Email Copy".
- Add a funny animated gif. Many humorous media are online, so use some to emphasize your points within the body copy.
- Funnily end the mail. "Have a great Thursday (hang on for just one more until the joyful days!)".
Set Clear Expectations
Work on improving email open rates starts when someone subscribes to your list.
Your subscribers must understand what they're opting for. Moreover, it's of great significance that you follow through with the expectations you've set.
The best way to assess whether you've set reasonable expectations with your audience is to revisit your opt-in process. Check to see if you are providing the following information:
- What is the benefit of signing up?
- How often will they receive your messages?
- What can they expect to get from your content?
Besides sign-up form verification, ensure that you're growing your email list organically by obtaining valid permissions from new contacts.
Increase Email Open Rates: Consistency Is Key
Open rates are crucial to your email marketing success.
Implementing the above tips can increase email open rates, maximize subscriber engagement, and improve your overall strategy.
Remember: even if you don't see results immediately, keep trying new techniques and remain consistent. Trust us, consistency is vital in email marketing, and your efforts will pay out!
Ready to start implementing these and other email practices? At Wired Messenger, we have decades of experience and knowledge in making stunning email campaigns. Contact us to start achieving amazing results today!