At Digital Hothouse, we specialise in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – that’s our bread and butter and we have been doing it for 12 years as a business and between us in the team, over 30 years’ worth of experience.
Over that time, we have also learnt that SEO cannot stand alone. Whilst we understand how important SEO is for most businesses, there are other platforms that can yield really positive ROI and play an integral role in an overall digital marketing strategy. As a team, we have a lot of experience in social media marketing, paid media and content marketing and we factor all these things into consideration when pitching to new clients or working with existing clients.
One key channel for many businesses is email marketing. This is especially true for e-commerce businesses, but email marketing can also be an important tool for other businesses, helping to raise brand awareness, showcase expertise or introduce new products or services to new and existing customers.
The goal for anyone working on email marketing campaigns is to drive higher open rates. Higher open rates typically mean higher conversions. Whether that’s an e-commerce sale or someone clicking on a link to read your latest blog or whitepaper, the more eyeballs you can get on the content in your email, the more likely it is that people will do what you want them to do.
Email open rates, however, are not that great when you look across all industries. In a survey by leading email marketing brand MailChimp, they found that email open rates across all sectors were just 21.33%.
This is an average open rate across all sectors, however, when you put that into raw numbers, if you have an email distribution list with 10,000 subscribers, a 21.33% open rate means that only 2,133 people would actually see the content you have spent so long carefully crafting.
Imagine if there were a few simple things you could be doing to increase that open rate? Well, there are some things you should be doing right now if you want to get more people to open your emails and here are some of the best tips we have picked up over the years.
1. Focus on the subject line
You could literally have written a masterpiece of an email, however, if no one bothers to open it, how would anyone ever know. The first thing that people see in an email campaign is the subject line so take your time to craft one that is going to encourage people to click through to read more. A few tips on crafting a great subject line:
- Be concise
- Stir curiosity
- Ask a question that people will want to find out the answer to in your awesome email
- Don’t use too many punctuation marks, especially exclamation marks (and this goes for your email too)
- Personalise it for the people/groups you are targeting
2. Segment your audience
Talking about personalisation, it’s imperative that you segment your audience database so you can personalise the emails you send to target specific individuals and groups.
Even the most basic segmentation can help you to tailor your messaging, help you to write more personalised subject lines and encourage more people to open your emails. Some basic segmentation you should be doing include:
- Past purchases
- Product category
You can go into much more depth with your segmentation and if you are an e-commerce business, we would urge you to do so – there is nothing worse than being bombarded with emails about products that have no relevance to you and that leads to people not opening the emails that are relevant to them as well.
3. Don’t send too many emails
There is a fine line when it comes to email frequency. Too little and you are not giving your customers and prospects enough opportunity to purchase. Too often and it feels like you are bombarding them which leads to either a) them unsubscribing or b) them simply never opening your emails – both of which are negative brand experiences.
There will be some trial and error when it comes to getting your email frequency right. Closely monitor open rates and note the timings of your emails to find a sweet spot that promotes higher open rates and ultimately, more conversions.
4. Send emails at the right time
The day and time of day that you send email can also have a significant impact on email open rates. This is especially true if you are an international business where customers will be opening emails at different times of the day. Segmentation will once again be your friend here.
Most email marketing tools will be able to provide data on email open times, helping you to tailor the time that you send emails as well as which day(s) of the week lead to higher email open rates. Historically, email open rates are lowest over the weekend so try and avoid sending emails over the weekend – if anything goes wrong, it’s also less likely that staff will be around to fix the problem until Monday.
5. Cleanse your database
It’s important to carry out regular clean-ups of your email database to ensure you are maximising the potential open rates by targeting those people that are most likely to open and engage. Over time, prospects drop away. Maybe they signed up for a promotion and since then, they haven’t opened a single email or maybe they got added to your database when they made a purchase and have not engaged since.
There are many reasons why people stop opening emails and many of them are not down to your or your emails. They just drop away naturally over time. Whilst it may look great to have a database with thousands of customers, if a high percentage of those are “dormant” and never open any emails, they are hurting your open rate numbers.
Give those people that have not opened an email in a while one last opportunity to engage. Maybe send them a personalised deal or one-time offer to see if it grabs their attention and if they still don’t open, purge them from your database.
6. Don’t be afraid to resend the same email
Sometimes people simply forget to open an email, even if it is something they are actually interested in. If you are one of those people that gets hundreds of emails a day – at work and on your personal accounts – there are times when stuff simply gets missed.
Don’t be afraid to send the same email to subscribers that didn’t open an email the first time around. This might be part of your cleansing process and you would actually be surprised by how many people open up the email the second time around.
Don’t worry too much about it being intrusive – if they missed it the first time around, they won’t even notice it’s the same email being sent twice and if they are ignoring all your emails now, it’s probably time to purge them from your database.
7. Don’t just send promotional content
No matter what your end goal – e-commerce conversion, click on a link, video view – make sure that you are not only sending promotional content to your email database. Customers want and expect more from you as a brand so it’s important to mix up your messaging, much like the way you manage your social media platforms.
Share valuable content that helps to build brand loyalty and adds value to your customers. Share with them educational content, entertaining content or informational content that helps them to get a better idea about your business, not just the products or services that you sell.
This can include blog posts, videos, case studies, white papers – whatever it is you do, go the extra mile and help your customers to learn more about your business and the work you do. BY mixing up your content in your emails, you are much more likely to increase your open rates.
You are never going to achieve a 100% open rate, however, there is a lot you can be doing to improve on the industry-wide average of 21.33%. Follow the seven simple tips above and monitor the impact of the changes on your open rates over time.
If you are thinking about email marketing as part of your digital marketing strategy, give us a call and we’d be happy to meet up to talk about how email can boost sales and revenue and provide a strong ROI.