Ways to Increase Your Opens Without Changing Your Subject Lines
Remember when you first started your email marketing program and were excited about a different way of building relationships with your customers – until you realized that a decent open rate isn’t even 50%? But more like 30% or even 20%?
It’s a challenge we all face. Having a healthy email list and a cool, responsive email template are a MUST, but let’s say you have those already. You also experiment with all different kinds of subject lines; you remove your soft bounces; and you use double opt-in to confirm new subscribers. What else can you do?
First, let’s review how an open is tracked. The images in an email campaign must be downloaded or displayed by the recipient for it to count as an open. Outlook and Gmail typically hide images in any campaign from a sender whose from address isn’t in the contact’s address book. While you can’t make your contacts add you as safe sender, you can always ask and make it as easy for them as possible:
1. Ask your contacts to add your from address to their approved senders list.
I’ve seen this a lot but I’ve never seen anyone include how-to instructions! Let’s assume most of your contacts are not computer savvy, and you want to make this as easy for them as possible. Check your campaign reports to see which email clients your contacts’ are using the most to open your emails, and then provide instructions how they can add a contact to their address book or safe senders list. I’d host the instructions on your website or in a PDF and link to them from the email.
2. Experiment with sending on a weekend.
For one of my B2B clients, I recently discovered that when I sent an email on a weekday, the unique opens were modest, but the total opens were 4x higher. When I sent on a weekend, I got more unique opens, but the total opens were much less. What’s actually going on here? When the email is sent during the work week, our contacts are forwarding the campaigns to their colleagues. Because the email platform counts any forwarded opens against the original recipient’s email address, it results in a high amount of total opens. When campaigns are sent on a weekend, it picks up a whole other 10% who missed it during the week. How do we capitalize on both?
Solution: Deploy the first send during the week to get as many total opens as possible, and then follow up with a remail to the non-openers on the weekend to increase the amount of unique opens.
3. Treat your openers differently by acknowledging their behavior.
Thanking your email contacts for staying interested is almost always well-received. Simply having a subject line for your openers that says, “Thanks for reading our emails” usually sees a boost in open rates. To reciprocate, give them some exclusive content or a promo code to show them they are valued. Beware: This must truly be an exclusive for your openers. Contacts know whether they open your emails. This will backfire if you use this approach on your non-openers.
4. Scale back on those promotional emails and send informational or value-based content instead.
Have you been sending a lot of promotions lately? Or are you a B2C company that sends only promotional emails? If opens are stagnant, try increasing the perceived value of your company’s expertise or give content that is particularly interesting to your email contacts. This requires segmenting based on product categories your customers are frequently purchasing. By taking this approach, you’re also personalizing content.
5. B2B companies can tailor content too.
Check to see which categories your contacts are most interested in by looking at which articles they’ve clicked on in your emails. Send them a blog round-up on a particular topic. Just be mindful of frequency: some contacts may pop up across multiple categories.
Summary: Testing, personalization, and a closer look at your data will help provide fresh new insights into what interests your contacts, helping you build a deeper relationship with your contacts.