6 Foolproof Strategies for Higher Email Open Rates

With online channels like social media on the rise, you might ask at some point: Is email marketing still useful? HubSpot, which develops and markets products for inbound...

John Berida
John Berida November 5, 2018

With online channels like social media on the rise, you might ask at some point: Is email marketing still useful? HubSpot, which develops and markets products for inbound marketing, still thinks so. In fact, they consider 2018 to be a great time for email marketing because of the developments that occurred in the first half of the year, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), multi-channel features, and a chance to focus on customer experience.

In other words, email marketing continues to evolve without abandoning its core purpose, which is to reach out to your audience in the most personal way. And understand that there are a few strategies that you can utilize to optimize your email open rates. But first, you’ll need to know what a good email open rate is and how many email campaigns should be sent during a given period to avoid having your audience marking your campaigns as spam.

What is a Good Email Open Rate?

HubSpot’s database study indicates that sending 16 to 30 email campaigns in a month can raise your median open rate to 32.4%, leading to a click rate of 6.5%. This is higher than companies that send two or less. Likewise, those who send 30 or more email campaigns in a span of 30 days end up having fewer click rates as well.

Take note that “email campaigns” refer to targeted emails, which means they’re sent to a specific portion of a list of email addresses. This does not refer to “email blasts,” which are emails that are sent to everyone on the list or database.

It’s also important to remember that email open rates vary by industry. According to marketing automation platform Mailchimp, the business and finance industries’ average is 20.47%, architecture and construction is 23.13%, while marketing and advertising is 16.48%. For a more comprehensive view, Mailchimp provides a long list of average email campaign stats of their customers by industry.

Keep these statistics in mind to ensure that your email marketing campaigns hit the sweet spot in terms of sending frequency. You can also improve email open rates by incorporating these six highly effective strategies:

6 Ways to Improve Email Open Rates

1. Personalize your email.

People are generally more hesitant to open emails with unfamiliar senders. They might even think of them as spam. So make sure to edit the “From” field of your campaigns and let them know who you are. For example, the “From” field should be “John Doe” and not “Growth Rocket”. Don’t forget to address your recipient by their first name as well in the subject line.

By doing these, you immediately establish yourself as a person—not a nameless representative of your brand—and personalize your message.

2. Create attention-grabbing subject lines.

Subscribers judge your emails by their subject line, so make it count. Email subject lines get cut off if they’re too long, especially when viewed on mobile, so try to keep these under 50 characters so that the entire line can be read when people view them regardless of device.

Subject lines should be attention-grabbing to encourage recipients to open your email.

Here are other tips you can use when crafting your subject lines:

Besides these, there are also terms you shouldn’t use when composing subject lines. You should avoid words like “Free,” “Save,” “Quote,” “Only $,” and “Cash,” along with adult-oriented or taboo terms like “porn” or “drugs” since these are often read by email service providers as spam. HubSpot provides a long list of words you shouldn’t use in your subject lines.

3. Keep your preview text short.

Aside from the subject line, subscribers also consider the preview text before opening the email. This is the short copy underneath the sender name and subject line that provides a preview of the email’s body. According to Litmus’ 2018 email client market share data, mobile is the primary gadget used when viewing emails—with the iPhone (29%) and Gmail (27%) being the two most popular reading environments.

litmus email market clients list 2017 and 2018

Graphic & Data by Litmus

The study also reveals that 46% of emails are opened on mobile devices and 18% on desktop. To optimize your preview texts, keep it as short as possible so it can be read across all devices.

4. Time your emails.

Subscribers view and read emails at a certain time or day. An infographic by social media scientist Dan Zarrella, email marketing automation services provider Pure 360, and HubSpot reveals that certain types of emails are best sent at specific times. But it’s also worth noting that the actual content plays a huge role in whether subscribers open the email during that specific time or not.

For instance, consumer promotion emails work best between 6 am to 10 am, or 7 pm to 10 pm. Email campaigns regarding financial services, on the other hand, get better traction between 2 pm to 3 pm. But generally, the highest email open rate is on a Saturday morning around 6 am since this is the time when we wake up and look at our phones.

5. Segment your list.

People want to see emails that are relevant to them. When you segment your list, you can filter your contacts based on specific information and conditions, so that the people on each list will receive emails that they actually care about.

Segmenting can be done differently. You can group recipients by location, interests, purchase behavior, and more. Mailchimp, for example, provides a wide array of segmenting options you can choose from.

6. Update your list periodically

There are some subscribers who may not engage with your content and may remain that way for months. Some of them may have switched to another email address or could have completely lost interest in your brand. Whatever the reason may be, clean up your lists by removing inactive subscribers. By doing so, you minimize the bounce rate of your email campaigns and can target active subscribers who engage with your content more.

Test to See What Works

Understand that you should test each strategy out and see what works for you. Track the time and day you send out your email campaigns, along with the dates, and see if the aforementioned strategies are applicable to you or not. You can test out subject lines using split A/B testing, which is a feature that Mailchimp and other email marketing service platforms offer.

Increasing your email open rate doesn’t have to be a complicated enterprise. Simply pay close attention to your campaign’s timing and composition, match it with the nuances of each segment on your list, and you’ll have an email campaign that targeted subscribers are more likely to open.

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