Are you satisfied with the average open rate of your email campaigns?
If the answer is no, then this article is for you.
But before we would dive into the actual tips that can help you to improve the open rates of your email campaigns, let's take a look at industry benchmarks first.
Email open rate benchmarks
Benchmarks provide a good comparison point for you, but always take them with a pinch of salt.
You don't want to be an average Joe, right?
So your goal should be to 1.5x or 2x higher open rates than others in your industry.
Based on the above report an average open rate is somewhere in the 18% - 30% range, depending on your industry.
I think if you are below 30%, there's definitely room for improvement. You don't want to waste most of your email marketing budget sending emails which are never opened.
Let's take a look at the most effective open rate improvement tactics, and let me start with my favorite.
1. Resend the email to people who left your first email unopened
Let's say that only 35% of your subscribers opened your first email, and 65% left it unopened.
In this case, create a segment in your chosen email service provider from those who haven't opened your first email, and simply resend them almost the same email with a different subject line.
If only 20% of them will open the recent campaign, you already improved your open rate by 13% overall.
Bright side: It's very easy to resend an old email campaign with most ESPs, so you only need to invest 5-10 minutes of extra time for a 10% improvement. Sounds great, right?
Dark side: You might eventually resend the same email to some of your subscribers, who use email clients which block images.
Solution: Add a note to the recent email telling your subscribers why they received this message again and if they enable image download you won't buzz them with the same email if they opened the first one.
2. A/B test your subject line before the main blast
The subject line can make or break your email:
- 35% of people open email based solely on the subject line
- 69% of people report email as SPAM based on the subject line alone
Since the subject line has the most influence on your email open rate, it's always worth A/B testing it.
Bright side: If you can master your subject line before the main sending, your main campaign will get 10-20% higher open rates.
Dark side: You need a large list (10,000+ subscribers) to be able to run a statistically relevant A/B test. Especially if you want to run this pre-blast A/B test. You can use this A/B test significance calculator to figure out if you have a large enough list or not.
3. Get your emails delivered to the primary inbox in Gmail
Gmail with it's 20%+ market share is the second largest email client, and definitely one of the most popular free email services on the Globe.
Since Gmail introduced the tabbed inbox, most marketing emails end up in the promotions folder.
Although being in Gmail Promotions tab is not that bad, its ultimate truth that more people will read your email if you end up in the primary inbox.
But how can you make sure that your emails will land in the subscriber's primary inbox?
The easiest approach is to get rid of images, and use only very minimal HTML emails, which look almost like personal messages.
If you want to learn more on this topic, this article will help you to understand how to get your emails delivered to the primary tab in Gmail.
Bright side: More people will open your email for sure, and you won't need to spend as much time with email design.
Dark side: You'll need to get rid of your lovely HTML email template. In addition, you might annoy people like me, who mark promotional emails that end up in the primary inbox as SPAM.
4. Optimize the preheader text of your email
Preheader text is that short text which is displayed next to/under the subject line of your email. It's grabbed automatically by the email client from the HTML code of your email. It's usually the first bit of text from the HTML.
If you don't deal with optimizing it, your subscribers will most likely see something like "view online" or "click here to view this message in a browser window".
It doesn't take too much time, so always make sure that your preheader text is up-to-date and works with your offer.
An ideal preheader:
- Shouldn't be longer than 85 characters (due to mobile screens)
- Complements the subject line
- Entices the recipient to open the email
There are various ways you can entice people, for example, you can build on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) or imply scarcity by making your offer limited in time or quantity.
5. Clean your list regularly
People tend to subscribe to more email newsletters than what they could consume.
This is the main reason why your emails are left unopened in most cases. Maybe they would be interested in what you have to say, but your email is simply lost in the crowd.
The best that you can do is to regularly clean your list from inactive subscribers by simply asking them to click on a button to stay on your list.
If they don't click on the button, you know what to do right?
Even when it feels bad, just do it, since you can not only improve your open rates but also save money.