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How to Get Higher Email Opening Rates

Keyboard keys spelling 'Email'

You would think it’d be nigh impossible to sell boilers to customers during one of the hottest UK summers on record. But with an insight-driven, creatively striking email campaign we did just that for E.ON – outperforming previous like-for-like product campaigns by over 200%. It goes to show, that email campaigns can still be incredibly effective.

A recent report by Campaign Monitor highlighted that 59% of respondents see the most ROI from email. Despite rumours that email is “out”, it continues to drive engagement. Email marketing is incredibly competitive, and it can be extremely difficult to stand out from the crowd and grab audience attention enough to ensure they click to open, let alone click through to engage with your website. So, here are a few tips to encourage higher email open rates when carrying out your e-marketing.

59% of respondents saw the most ROI from email

Campaign Monitor Email Marketing Industry Report

Timing is everything

The day, time of day and how frequently you choose to send out your email campaigns greatly affects open rates and click through rates. Various studies conflict on the optimum time to schedule your emails, but then every audience is different. For B2B audiences, for example it had been suggested that mid-morning and mid-week was best to yield the best open rates.

However, more recent research by LinkedIn indicates that B2B decision makers are ‘always on’ with 73% browsing for business during their evenings and 51% at the weekends. So, it pays to test performance of email campaigns at different times and take learnings from A/B testing. It’s also important to always contextualise against your own prospects and customer data.

B2B decision makers are ‘always on’ with 73% browsing for business during their evenings

Optimise your subject line

Your subject line is the first impression your customers get. It’s critical to get this right so it resonates with your target audience and drives engagement. Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all optimal length of an email subject line, research carried out by Campaign Monitor found that 7 words (roughly 41 characters), tend to get the highest opening rates.

However, the success of subject line lengths is also partly down to what device your customers are opening their emails on. For that reason, we’d recommend that when it comes to subject lines, it’s the shorter the better, so your email performs well on mobile too.

Sometimes this can be frustrating: you want to increase your title so that you can get your point across, but if it’s too long, you can potentially put your customers off. So, when it comes to attempting to increase email open rates, aim for a concise subject line; and, avoid using known spam trigger words like ‘cost’, ‘free’ or ‘sale’.

Personalise your emails

Almost half of UK consumers (45%) are prepared to engage with a retail brand that uses personalised offers in their digital marketing. So, if you’re wondering how to increase email open rates, then personalise your email subject line and greeting.

Writing as if you’re speaking to one person, and not a generic audience really helps to engage your customers and entice a click through. However, personalisation goes a lot further than that today. Using data gathered on your target audience, you can hyper-target within their customer journey, and capitalise on them by sending out highly tailored communications to be helpful and informative at the opportune time.

For example, an individual’s purchasing or decision-making habits will differ greatly from when they are browsing their mobile phone on their train journey to work, as opposed to sitting comfortably at home with a tablet or laptop. Sending personalised communications at relevant times, and understanding the context of their habits will drive higher engagement.

Mobile location-based targeting has huge implications for retailers, by sending highly targeted emails triggered when a person walks through a ‘beacon’ at their store doors, enabling you to interact with a customer at the most relevant time.

Insight-driven segmentation

According to eMarketer, 39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation see better open rates. By segmenting email marketing lists, brands can increase customer personalisation to boost rate of engagement and encourage conversion. Instead of sending a blanket email to all, break your list down based upon any number of personalised factors:

  • Stage of customer journey
  • New vs returning customer
  • Purchase history
  • Purchase frequency
  • Interests or preferences
  • Age and Gender
  • Location
  • Inactivity

Customer insight-driven segmentation of your email marketing lists will streamline your marketing efforts, ensure your prospects and customers are receiving the most relevant content. This means they’re more likely to engage and respond positively.

39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation see better open rates

Optimise for mobile

Mobile usage is increasing year-on-year. In 2018 the younger Gen Z generation crossed the Mobile Tipping Point – meaning they spend longer on their phones each day than on all other devices combined (Source: Digital Trends Report 2018). It’s critical for marketers to optimise marketing communications to work on mobile platforms, to better engage where their audiences are. In turn, this can help to increase email open rates. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when designing for mobile:

  • Keep images to a minimum
    Too many images and large files sizes will cause loading issues for mobile users. Keep the number of images you use to a minimum, and compress them to a reasonable size. Some viewers on mobile opt not to load images, so make sure this doesn’t affect the overall design of your email. Images shouldn’t include any critical messaging or information.
  • Keep call to actions clear and well-spaced
    Make it as easy as possible for your customers to click through from a mobile, and make sure any clickable links are well spaced for touch screen interactivity. There’s nothing that puts customers off more than being unable to click a link. Aim for a frictionless mobile customer journey.
  • Optimise your layout
    One column layouts work best on mobile, given the typical screen size. We recommend streamlining your content for viewing email on mobile too. Break down content into small, digestible parts, set out in clearly defined sections, for a smoother mobile customer experience.
  • Avoid the dreaded ‘pinch and zoom’
    Using a responsive template for your emails means customers will view the information at the optimum size for their screen. Zooming in on a mobile is often seen as adding friction to the customer journey, and can be a significant barrier to conversion. What’s more, avoid sending your customers to a ‘full site’ view from email when on mobile – conversion rates tend to drop, as content isn’t easily accessible due to screen size.

Final thoughts

Trying to increase email open rates is a challenge faced by all email marketers; and whilst there is no clear answer, there are certainly ways in which you can optimise your emails to encourage a higher number of clicks.

Once you understand your customer – their interests, the type of language they respond to, and when they’re most likely to be checking their emails – you’ll be able to send tailored emails to them, which should generate an increased click through rate.

Nevertheless, while it’s important to keep these things in mind, you should never forget your brand. By encapsulating all of the factors that enhance your email open rates, whilst offering a strong proposition and brand, you’ll create a brand experience that customers enjoy engaging with.

Never sacrifice your brand experience for the sake of clicks, because ultimately, creativity and a strong proposition will always generate engagement.

For the latest news in digital marketing, head on over to our blog. Alternatively, if you have any questions about how to get higher email opening rates – or digital marketing general – then get in touch with us. We’d love to help!