Top 10 Ways to Improve Email Open Rate

By on June 19, 2014

What is Email Open Rate?

email open rateKeeping track of email open rate is vital for direct and inbound marketers as this metric enables them to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaign and marketing communication efforts. All efforts and resources that went into creating the email marketing content would go waste if a considerable chunk of the mails in customer inboxes were never even opened! The email open rate metric is indicative of how many people “view” or “open” a commercial email sent out by them. This rate is arrived at by dividing the number of such emails actually opened by the recipients with the total number of such emails sent out in one batch, barring the emails that bounced. The number is expressed as a percentage. In other words, the formula for calculating email open rates is:

No. of emails opened/(total no. of emails sent out – emails that bounced)

Tops to Improve Email Open Rate

Now, as can be inferred from the above formula and the core concept itself, there are always instances of marketing emails reaching a target customer’s inbox but never getting opened and read. Often, these instances are more than what marketers would be comfortable with. However, there are certain tips and tricks that help marketers ensure that at least a major percentage of their commercial mails get opened by recipients, even if not all. The following tips have proved to be quite successful with email marketers in increasing the opening rates of their electronic commercial communications. Let’s take a look, shall we?

#1 Outsmart the spam filter

The primary concern of any email marketer is the dreaded Spam folder. Once a mail goes in there any chance of it being even glanced at, let alone being opened, flies out of the window. Therefore, the first line of defense for an email marketer is to take steps to cheat the Spam folder. This can be done by avoiding typical spam words and phrases like “hurry!”, “act now!”, “free”, etc. in the subject line. Such words and phrases are often used in subject lines to grab the attention of the recipient but spam filters are designed to detect these and certain symbols like dollar and other currency icons. So, it serves marketers well to do some research on spam evasion techniques and frame their communication accordingly.

#2 Invest in your subject line

Invest some thought, time, and creativity in coming up with a subject line which is interesting, crisp, and not misleading. The subject line should be relevant to the communication, it should not be too long, and it should include the name of your company, product, or subscription. If your communication is about an offer, imbibe a sense of urgency in your subject line, but be careful not to use any spammy words or phrases.

#3 Streamline or categorize your mailing lists

If your mailing list has too much diversity in terms of subscribers and customer segment, it would serve you well to split it into more streamlined categories and frame your mails accordingly to cater to the needs and interests of each category. Have a ‘why do you want to subscribe’ question in your newsletter subscription form to help you streamline and categorize your mailing list.

#4 Manage your frequency

Be neither too frequent nor too scarce with the number of times you shoot marketing mails to your subscribers’ inbox. Maintain a healthy frequency so that you keep your customers interested enough to open your mails while making sure to not make your communications so scarce that your regular recipients forget you.

#5 Run a test campaign

Put together a test marketing mail, pull out a few subscriber IDs from your mailing list and send them the test mail. Measure the mail opening rates from data collected thus and see how it worked. Make changes to your subject line and send across another batch of test mails. Compare the results and see what worked and what went wrong.

#6 Timing is everything

When a marketing communication reaches a recipient’s inbox makes a lot of difference to its open rate. Depending upon the product, event, or offer, some mails are best sent on weekdays during working hours while others may have a better chance of getting the recipient’s attention when sent over holidays and weekends. Test the timing and open rate of your mails for a sample mailing list to see how things work.

#7 Draft ‘preview content’ intelligently

Apart from the subject line, a lot of recipients are likely to have mail preview settings on. Therefore, it is important for a marketing email to have the primary information placed such that it is visible in the email preview.

#8 Make your mails and newsletters responsive for mobile devices

These days, almost all mobile devices have email features and applications. Keeping that in mind, it is wise to make your mail and newsletter formats responsive so that they can be opened, read, and replied to conveniently on mobile devices as well.

#9 Use numbers in your subject line

Marketing and sales rely on and generate numeric data because numbers can effectively summarize and communicate commercial information. Therefore it makes sense to use numbers in your subject line. A blend of qualitative and quantitative information in the subject lends a marketing mail a certain amount of credibility. The tip is to not use too many numbers. It IS after all the subject line and you need to keep it crisp yet informative.

#10 Use email marketing tools

Email and inbound marketing tools like MailChimp come with features that equip marketing emails to avoid spam filters, provide mail templates, and mail analytics that gather information related to timing of the mails for better opening rate, advanced analytics to track the campaign’s performance, etc. These are just some of the few reasons to go for email marketing tools but they suffice to justify the utility of such tools for email marketers.

In conclusion, the primary factors that affect email opening rates are the ability of marketing emails to evade spam filters, optimized subject lines, well-placed content, timing and frequency, and responsive communication design. Target and manage these factors well to turn the mail-game in your favor to a huge extent, even if not entirely.

About Ishani Chatterjee

Ishani is a commerce graduate with an MBA in Marketing and International Business. She worked as a financial analyst for a high profile custodian bank for a year before switching to writing and editing professionally. When she is not writing she spends her time reading and watching movies, listening to music, and traveling. Reading, for her, is a passion, nay, obsession and she fuels this obsession by collecting books on a wide range of topics.