Why your email open rates are low and how to fix it

When you’re under pressure to achieve short-term results, it’s easy to rush your email campaigns and make fatal mistakes.

However, when you do this, it significantly influences your email open rates and damages the long-term health of your list – as the following statistics demonstrate:

  • The average email open rate is only 17.8% (Source: Campaign Monitor)
  • The average email click-through rate is 2.65% (Source: Campaign Monitor)
  • 21% of permission-based emails still end up in the junk folder (Source: ReturnPath)

The key is to take a step back and consider which actions are impacting your email marketing performance.

Here are a few things to think about…

Common email blunders

Click-bait. Ugh. You need to cut the clickbait.

Too many times have we read emails with subject lines like:

  • “Is everything okay?” – Causing the reader to panic that everything is not okay.
  • “You will not regret opening this” – Creating very high expectations that frequently go unmatched.

Click-bait like this will increase open rates at first. But after a while, your subscribers will cotton on. You’ll create distrust and it will undoubtedly harm your relationship with subscribers.

On the theme of the subject lines, avoid words like “buy”, “sell” or “20%”, as email providers will often mark these as spam or file them in a promotions folder. Side-stepping the spam folder like this is an obvious way to improve open rates.

Another tip is to strike a balance between text and imagery.

Include too many images and you’ll find your email content making its way into the spam folder. So, be sure to design your email templates with this in mind.

Timing is another critical aspect of email marketing.

Popular email marketing software like Mailchimp and Keap include timing optimisation tools that pick the best times to send your emails based on your audience.

However, instead of sending at these times, add or subtract 15 minutes to beat the rush. Bear in mind, these platforms will be giving all your competitors the same recommended times.

You should also avoid sending completely irrelevant marketing material that goes against what subscribers initially signed up for.

Besides breaking GDPR stipulations, you’ll frustrate and confuse your subscribers, too. This is where a smart email marketing strategy comes in to plan your monthly content.

Now we’ve covered all the doom and gloom. Let’s move on to some positive ways to improve your email open rates!l

9 easy methods to improve email open rates

  1. Segment your subscriber list – It can save time to send emails to your entire subscription list, but it won’t deliver results. Segmenting your subscribers by their interests and only sending relevant content will strengthen your open rates.
  1. A/B test to see what works best – Create a small sample group of subscribers and split them into two groups. Send these two groups different subject lines and see which receives the most opens. You can then send the more popular option out to your entire email base. Simple.
  1. Send a test to yourself beforehand – Before your A/B tests, send yourself a test email and consider – in and amongst your inbox – whether it is something that you would click on. This will also allow you to double-check your content and that your links are all working well.
  1. Get your timings right – Typically, the best time to send an email is just before your readers arrive at work, so it sits at the top of their inbox. While this tends to be the case – especially for business-to-business (B2B) services – experiment to see what works best for your audience and don’t be afraid to use your email software’s time optimiser tool.
  1. Verify your domain – Verify that you are using a valid email address to reassure subscribers that your emails are safe and secure. This will also enable you to steer clear of the spam folder.
  1. Send from a real person – Recipients are more likely to trust emails from addresses with a personalised sender name, as opposed to a generic company name. So, for example, an email sent from [email protected] will receive more opens than a generic [email protected].
  1. Add the recipient’s name into the subject line – We are hard-wired to tune in whenever we see our name. By personalising subject lines, your emails stand out. Just keep it concise – so the subject still makes sense on mobile devices – and don’t use this trick too often.
  1. Offer an early quick win – Make sure that the first email a new subscriber receives is a knock-out. This will give them more of an incentive to open future marketing material. It’s about setting the tone.
  2. Resend to your “unopened” list – This can work wonders. Just tweak the subject line, alter your headers and unsuspecting subscribers – who missed your first email – will assume that they are receiving new content. Just don’t do this too often, otherwise, people will catch on.

Check out our article on Future Marketing Trends to Follow in 2022. 

We have lots more advice to share with you!

Clients always ask us: why are email open rates so low? The simple answer is that they don’t have to be.

It’s a case of implementing these tips, swotting up on new trends and continuing to adapt your efforts to suit your subscribers.

We have lots more great advice on email marketing in our blogs – including:

Alternatively, if you’d like some more personalised advice, just get in touch and we can set up a quick, informal chat.