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3 surefire ways to improve email open rates

Opening emailThe figures are in with our latest Email Marketing Metrics Report and email open rates for the first half of 2011 averaged 22.47%.

As I’ve previously written, metrics simply provide benchmarks for you to compare against. What’s most important is that you’re setting your own benchmarks based on the performance of your own email campaigns.

If your email open rates are on the decline, then it’s a sign you are losing the attention of your subscribers. And once you start losing someones attention, it’s very difficult to get it back.

So here are some practical tips you can apply right now to help improve open rates for your next campaign.

1. Be creative with your subject line. When you put the effort into writing good subject lines, your readers reward you with their attention. A good subject line tells readers why they should open your email. It can use a range of tactics to do this like creating a sense of curiosity and urgency. Or it could communicate value, relevance, or simply inform readers about what’s inside.

So try alternative approaches to your subject lines to see what works best for you. And don’t be afraid to break from conventional subject line practices. After all, you want to stand out from the crowd and the best way to do this is to be different.

2. Design emails with the assumption that images will be blocked. According to a MarketingSherpa survey from 2010, a staggering 67% of email users have images turned off by default in their email client. So unless these people unblock images in their inbox or click on a link, the email can’t be tracked as opened.

So don’t rely on images to get your message across to readers. Encourage them to unblock images with a well crafted preheader and image alt text that entices them to find out more. A longer term solution is to ask subscribers to add you to their safe sender list or contact list. This action overrides the image blocking settings in most email clients so images will display by default.

3. Stop always selling and deliver value in different ways. Sometimes you can re-capture subscriber’s attention through a grand gesture in form of a competition or exceptional promotion. But generally speaking, it’s better to earn back their attention by continuously delivering value in different ways. Otherwise you’ll simply lose their attention again.

So run a survey with your next campaign and ask subscribers what they’d like to receive from you. And be sure to listen to what subscribers are telling you. Remain relevant by sending email content they actually want.

A luxury holiday company I’ve dealt with in the past did this with excellent results. They discovered through a customer survey that people wanted to know more about travel details as opposed to just destination packages within the monthly newsletter. By including travel tips and airfare packages in future emails, the company saw open rates grow by 50% with an overall increase in sales attributed to the email campaign.

Ok, so now it’s over to you. How are you increasing open rates with your email marketing campaigns? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Matt JPosted by:
Matthew Johnson
EDM Specialist

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