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9 Ways to Creatively Overcome Low Email Open Rates

While it is unlikely that any company can achieve a 100% open rate for all of their emails, there are plenty of ways to boost your numbers. If you’re looking for ideas, here are 9 creative ways to overcome low email open rates.

9 tips for email marketing


Textbroker Marketing and Communications

You spend time, money and effort perfecting the emails you send out to your audience. That’s why it can be so frustrating when your carefully crafted email only gets opened by a small percentage of the recipients. Although it varies by industry, marketing and advertising email open rates tend to hover around 16%. While it is unlikely that any company can achieve a 100% open rate for all of their emails, there are plenty of ways to boost your numbers. If you’re looking for ideas, here are 9 creative ways to overcome low email open rates.

1. Personalize the Email

On any given day, a person might receive dozens of emails from companies, groups and political organizations. Over time, these can blend into one big category of spam. That’s especially true if your emails are addressed generically. After all, people are busy. They don’t want to open emails unless they think it might directly apply to them.

That’s exactly why it makes sense to personalize each email that you send out. If you’re abiding by the best practices of email marketing, then you’re already only sending emails to people who are customers or who have subscribed to your email list. Therefore, you should already have some key information about each subscriber. Use this information to personalize emails and ensure that more people open each one.

The best way to personalize an email is to include the person’s name right in the subject line. The name should be within the first few words of the subject line so that it grabs their attention right away and doesn’t get cut off on certain devices. If you don’t have a name, but you have some other identifying information, you can also personalize the subject line using that. You could send an email to people living in Michigan, for example, or those living in New York City.

2. Front Load Your Subject Line

Many people today read their emails from a mobile device. Their screens are small, and they get lots of emails daily, so it is normal to skim through new emails before deciding which to open. In a sea of emails, you need to figure out how to make your subject line more interesting and appealing. One way to do just that is to front-load your subject line with vibrant, interesting or intriguing words.

If you want to tell people about a new trend in fashion, put that front and center. Here is an example of a subject line that isn’t front-loaded:

“Exploring the History of Women’s Jeans: Are Wide Legs Back?”

While that might sound interesting, think about just the first few words. To an audience interested in fashion, it’s not especially exciting. By keeping the content the same but changing the subject line and front-loading with more relevant and exciting words, the subject line could read as follows instead:

“Wide Leg Jeans: They’re Back!”

Right away, readers know that the email is talking about wide leg jeans. If they are interested in the topic, they are likely to click open the email and read on.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

Another great tip when you’re trying to boost email open rates is to keep both the subject line and the content short and sweet. If you have a lot to say or a lot to promote, it might be tempting to include as much content as possible. However, overloading the reader can have the opposite of the desired effect.

Remember that the length of the subject line the recipient sees is based on the email program they use. While Gmail lets users see as many as 70 characters at once before clicking through, with Yahoo Mail only 46 characters are typically visible. Sticking to fewer than 60 characters is a smart move so that nothing important gets cut off.

4. Humanize the Sender

One of the best email marketing tips to keep in mind is that you want to establish a connection with each person on your email list. If you are just a big company, then people won’t feel bad about deleting your email before ever reading it. However, people are a lot less likely to delete an email if it is sent from a person rather than just a company.

Use this knowledge to your advantage if you want to increase email open rates. Instead of sending emails from “Company X”, send them from “Sarah at Company X”. This reminds people that there is a real live person behind each email. Right away, this creates a human connection. It also encourages people to click through to the email and find out who Sarah is, what she has to say and why that message is relevant to them.

5. Deliver Consistently High-Quality Content

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to send quality content with each and every email. Readers who open a spam email won’t forget it. Right away, they might mark the sender as spam or just unsubscribe from your email list. One low-quality email can have that effect, so it is not worth it.

On the other hand, quality content will be remembered. When a person opens an email and learns something new or laughs about a great story, your brand will create a deeper connection. That, in turn, translates to quicker and more frequent email opens in the future.

So what makes an email something loaded with quality content? First, don’t skimp on the writing. It is worth investing in an author who understands the tone of your brand and can write content that connects to your audience. Second, don’t feel the need to send emails out constantly. Instead, send emails when you have the content. Too many companies feel the need to send out a set number of emails daily or weekly, and they force content to fit.

Don’t underestimate your consumers and your audience. They recognize creative and valuable content, and they will remember the brand and companies that hit the mark.

6. Keep Spam Filters in Mind

There are certain buzzwords that companies use when they want a person to open their emails. While these can be effective, they are also often associated with spam. As a result, a lot of email providers pick up on these spam words and warn readers against the content. Some of the most common “spam” words to find in a subject line include:

  • Deal

  • Offer

  • Sale

  • Free

  • Discount

Obviously, those are words you might genuinely want to use if you are offering a great deal or promoting a sale. While you can use the words, just be careful with their placement and how many you use at once. Can you tell the difference between an email subject line promoting a sale and one that is likely spam?

“Valentine’s Day Sale: Buy One, Get One 50% Off!”

“SALE!!!! FREE GIFTS for VDAY!!!!”

You can probably tell that the second subject line, with all caps and little content, is the spam email. Readers and their spam filters can tell too.

7. Send Your Emails at the Right Time

Now you know that email open rates have a lot to do with who sends the email, who the email is addressed to and how compelling the subject line and content are. What you might not know is that low email open rates might be related to when you send the email.

Think back to last Monday morning. Were you at work, or perhaps in an office? There’s a good chance that you were busy, maybe a little overwhelmed and eager to catch up with any work or correspondence from over the weekend. Now, think about having 100 emails waiting for you in your inbox. In this situation, many people get rid of unnecessary emails in order to focus on the tasks at hand.

Compare that scenario to a person who is at work on a Thursday afternoon and getting ready to head home. If that person receives an interesting email, they might read it right then or save it for later in the evening. Timing is key for your email marketing campaign.

8. Answer Specific Questions

Whatever industry you happen to be in, there’s a good chance that you get frequent questions from customers, leads and people you interact with on social media. Over time, you might notice that people are repeatedly asking the same kinds of questions. This can be a great thing because it means you know what people want to find out.

For example, imagine that you operate a meal or food delivery service. People might repeatedly ask you how to correctly poach an egg. Although it might not be something you personally struggle with, when multiple people ask, it’s time to address the question. Put the commonly asked question right in the subject line and then answer it in the email. This is quality content that people are specifically requesting to see, so they are far more likely to open your emails to get the answer.

9. Offer Something of Value With Every Email

The bottom line is this: Ensure that your emails add value. They can be funny emails with links to amusing videos, or they can be educational how-to guides. They can direct people to relevant blog posts, or they can offer great discounts on relevant products. Ultimately, people want to open emails that add value. If you can deliver that consistently, then you’ll likely see your email open rates improve over time.

Low email open rates are a concern for any email marketing campaign. Fortunately, these nine solutions can increase email open rates. The right strategies, and the right content, can make all the difference.

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