How to Improve Email Open Rates

How to Improve Email Open Rates (1)I read the article “Top 10 Ways to Improve Email Open Rates” at Marketing Profs. (Click here to see the article).

Most of the tips were smart email management and I’ve included my own opinion on best practices.

  • Keep the subject line under 50 characters and make one important point.

    This is a good practice. Usually, 30 to 50 is all you can see of a subject line. So short, sweet, to the point rules.  My best opens are subject lines which clearly state what’s in the email … “Chris Dale at Sand Crab Tavern” or “New volunteer opportunity in Carlsbad next week” I also get good open rates on the traditional “Updates from Kevin Smith, CFP” on RSS feeds.

  • Personalize the subject line with the recipient’s first name.

    I see his logic of showing the reader that they’ve provided their information to you. But it has the potential to look “spammy” and alienate. Subscribers don’t always put their first name in the “mandatory” first name box. A subject line with a “merge tag” like *|first name|* just looks bad. With Mailchimp, if there is no contact to fill the merge tag you can add a generic greeting. For example, instead of Dear Sam you can have Dear friend.

  • Build a sense of urgency in the subject line.

    When I included the date that a musician was playing at the Sand Crab Tavern, my open rate was lower. Why? Because the reader thought they could see all the info they needed in the subject line, they didn’t need to open the email. So the subject line needs to draw them into opening the email, not give them all the info they need.

  • Avoid “SPAM” words like FREE or Act Now.

    I think just about everyone knows not to add these words to their subject lines. I know when I see the words “Act Now” I assume the email wants me to purchase something and 99 times out of 100 I trash the email without reading it.

  • Choose the right “From” name and email address.

    Here is where my philosophy differs from the authors. I think an email should always come from a person at a personal email address. It tells the reader there is someone at the other end of the email. It also helps the email pass through SPAM filters. Kevin Gao, the author of the article, recommends using email addresses like “webinar@yourdomainname”.  I think that’s too impersonal. I know I’m an email professional, but I look for that type of email address. If I send a question to a “generic” email address it may not get answered.

  • Experiment with various email send times.

    I’ve had very good luck with non-traditional times. For events and concerts, Friday early afternoon has been working well. During lunch or after lunch people want to plan their weekend, so sending children’s events and concerts at that time is working. The real key here is to keep your attention on what your open rate and click-through rates are.

Can you really improve email open rates?

The real key to email marketing … Consistency, consistency, consistency. Just like any marketing, consistent reminders to clients and potential clients will bring in more business. It does take time and persistence. Try new things with your emails and watch the results in the reports.

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