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Actionable Tips To Get More People To Open Your Marketing Emails

Laura Phillips

by Laura Phillips on 5th December 2013

Email MarketingIn this day and age your potential customers spend their days being bombarded by marketing message after marketing message; sources reckon 3,000-30,000 per day in fact, many of these in the form of email. The average UK email user may receive 416 commercial emails per month!

So how do you get customers to go the extra mile and open your emails in amongst all of the others they receive?

Is Email Marketing Still Important?

I would suggest very much so.

Email marketing is still an important marketing tool at all levels of business, offering relevant advertising and incentives to a highly targeted audience (when used correctly). Compared to other marketing channels email is often highly cost effective, personalised, and a good converting channel.

Measuring Your Open Rate – What Counts As An Opened Email?

Now, before we go any further we should talk a little about open rates and how unreliable they can be. Sounds silly I know, but what counts as an ‘open’ and what does not may not be what you think.

According to GMS there are a number of inaccuracies and discrepancies in the way email open rates may be recorded, and they should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here are some examples from them:

  • The email is “opened” (launched), but images are blocked: not counted as an open.
  • The email is not opened (launched), but images are enabled and it is read in the preview pane: counted as an open.
  • The text version of a multi-part message is read on a BlackBerry. The HTML version (with images blocked) is later opened in Gmail (or other email service/client). The email has been opened and read twice — but zero opens are recorded.
  • A text version is opened and read but not clicked: not counted as an open.
  • A text version is opened, read and the user clicks a link: not counted as an open with some email software. Others assign an open because the email was clicked on, which assumes an open.

Equally, open rate is an easy statistic to obsess about, but it does not relate to ROI, and shouldn’t really be looked at as a stand-alone stat but rather as part of a bigger picture.

Refine Your Sign Up Process

If there’s one thing guaranteed to stop your email subscription list getting off the ground it’s an overly complex sign up form. The basic rules of conversion optimisation will give you some common sense guidance on how to optimise your sign ups, but here’s a few pointers to get you started:

  • Make the sign up button big and obvious
  • Ask for the bare minimum of information to boost your sign up rate
  • Tell people exactly what they’ll get, and how often
  • Make the benefits clear
  • Include the email opt in, and your social buttons, in a prominent position on every page of your website

The Subject Line

Probably the most important element of your entire email campaign. If the subject line doesn’t make the user want to open it, the content is irrelevant. You need to cut through all the junk and spam that clogs every email inbox in the land, stand out and be seen.

Junk Email

  • Don’t be cheesy. Everyone else is doing that and you will be forever lost in the melee of spam filling your users inbox.
  • Avoid spam words like ‘free’ and ‘discount’ which may land you in the junk folder never to be seen again.
  • DON’T WRITE IT ALL IN CAPITALS. It looks spammy and sounds like you’re shouting.
  • Make it useful. Useful things are naturally interesting to us. If your user feels they can gain something useful from the email, it is automatically interesting to them.
  • K.I.S.S. You user will be bored at around 40-50 characters, remember this is a subject line, not a description line. Get to the point and tell them what’s in the email.
  • If it suits your business, words like ‘exclusive’ and ‘limited time’ can help, but use them wisely or you just look spammy.

Timing

Timing can be a really important factor in email marketing. Remember that your users will be on different devices at different times of the day, on none at all at some points, relaxing at times, and run off their feet at others.

Email Timing

Of course, the best timing for your emails will depend on your industry to a point, but in general :

  • Avoid Mondays and Fridays.
  • Avoid first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
  • Test different times to send your marketing emails and to see which works best.
  • Mid-morning, mid-week is a good place to start.

Frequency

Again, your industry will dictate how often you should be emailing your users, but there are a few rules of thumb which may help if you are unsure…

  • If you don’t send enough you run the risk of being forgotten.
  • If you send too many you will most likely see an increase in unsubscribers.
  • If you have nothing to say, don’t send an email.

Frequency of Emails

In this study by Mail Chimp a negative correlation was found between frequency and engagement. The more often an email was sent, the lower the engagement rate became. This cannot really be extrapolated to other situations of course, but it makes for an interesting read.

Send Test 1

Send Test 2

Content

If they made it past the subject line and your recipient has opened your email, that’s great! This is where it gets interesting and you have to have the content to back up your awesome subject line. Don’t let them down now or it’s unlikely they’ll open your next email.

You can find loads of great guides and tips on writing good content and marketing emails elsewhere on the Koozai blog, such as this great guest post by Trevin Shirey or our free Content Marketing whitepaper.

Important Note

ALWAYS include an unsubscribe option in every email you send, and make unsubscribing a one-click affair.

If you make it hard for users to opt out one of three things will happen:

  1. They will be really annoyed with you and opt out
  2. They will be really annoyed with you, but stay opted in because you made it too hard to opt out. Every time you send them an email they will either not open it, open and not convert, or flag you as Spam. All of these outcomes are detrimental to your data analysis and/or business.
  3. They will complain about you on Social Media or on a blog which can lead to a PR nightmare and negative brand image.

Use Social Media

Social media and email marketing make a powerful tag team. Think about how much you could extend your reach by allowing the information in your emails to be shared socially. Then make it easy for users to subscribe via your social media pages, and you have a double win.

Like Emails

Again it depends on your business, but bring in your Facebook, your Twitter and your Google+ buttons, and if you have them already add some image based platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. You don’t want to swamp your users with choices, this puts them off, but give them a few options at least.

According to Vertical Response the top five industries that use social media and email marketing are, in order:

  1. Non-profits
  2. Real estate
  3. Marketing and advertising
  4. Internet
  5. Health and wellness

The top five industries that use both email marketing and social media, and have the highest open rates on their email marketing are, in order:

  1. Music (average open rate: 32.1 percent)
  2. Consumer electronics (average open rate: 31.7 percent)
  3. Financial services (average open rate: 22.6 percent)
  4. Motion pictures and film (average open rate: 21.9 percent)
  5. Graphic design (average open rate: 21.3 percent)

Conclusion

It’s a matter of opinion, but I think there are very few businesses that cannot or should not make use of email marketing and social media. I hope this post gives you some ideas for creating your own email + social media campaign.

If you have any useful tips yourself please leave them in the comments section below.

Image Source

Email sign & envelope via BigStock
Businessman with four wrist watches via BigStock
Pulse LED Display via BigStock
Like Button via BigStock

Laura Phillips

Laura Phillips

Laura has experience of SEO, PPC and Social Media both in-house and within an agency environment. Having worked across a variety of industries from travel to law, and retail to education she is always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the search and social visibility of her clients across various platforms.

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4 Comments

  • Frans Gerber 5th December 2013

    Great post Laura. Are these figures based on B2C or B2B campaigns?

    Reply to this comment

  • Laura Phillips

    Laura Phillips 5th December 2013

    Hi Frans

    Thank you very much :) The figures pulled are B2C. Are you a B2C or B2B emailer?

    Reply to this comment

    • Frans Gerber 5th December 2013

      Hi Laura
      We deal with both. We found that, almost always, if you send relevant content the open rate does improve. So many businesses use a scatter gun approach, but segmentation of the audience is very important.

      Reply to this comment

  • Laura Phillips

    Laura Phillips 5th December 2013

    I couldn’t agree more!

    Break it up, segement into every relevant category and keep testing. As you say so many companies play it the lazy way and figure that if you are signes up tha you are interested in every aspect of the business. This is simply not the case.

    Proper targeting works, ‘whatever to whoever’ does not!

    Reply to this comment

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