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Improving your email marketing success rate

Jim-AOne of the most common questions that I get asked in training at digital agency Intergage by our clients is ‘how can I increase the effectiveness of my email campaigns?’.

There are so many aspects that can be focused on in answering this question, from the technical aspects of ensuring that your email is coming from a ‘clean address’ and server to the executional aspects such as ensuring that you have the right contact details for the people you are trying to reach!

We will assume that if you are an Intergage client that your email is coming from a clean address and that you are clever enough to have created a good mailing list and so I am going to focus on improving the effectiveness of your email marketing by improving your ‘open rate’ for this post.So what are my top five tips for improving your ‘open’ rate?

1. Know what SPAM looks like

As the majority of the business world now uses email on a daily basis, we all have a fairly good idea of what SPAM looks like. If you cast your mind back, you may also be able to remember the ways in which the nature of SPAM has changed. Five years ago you may have received emails from shady Nigerian businessmen and Viagra companies. Nowadays, you are more likely to receive advanced ‘phishing’ emails.The trick is to learn from this.

Avoid using terms in your email that over zealous SPAM filters dislike. Overuse of the term ‘Special discounts’, ‘free’ and references to sexual medicines may cause some SPAM filters to block your email. If this happens, your email will never be opened.

2. Produce a subject line that sells

There are two items that your potential reader sees before they click the magic ‘Open’ button – the ‘From’ address and your email subject. As the larger of the two, the subject line is hugely important.

How do you write a good subject line? It’s all about getting into the mindset of your reader. Like you, they may receive many emails each day. What do you think attracts them to open your email over any other? Be sure to be succinct and really sell the relevance of your email within the subject line. If you’re not sure how to best sell the topic of your email, is your email message really newsworthy enough to be sending?

If you have clearly defined segments to your email campaign and readers who will have different preferences, why not target them with individual subject lines that appeal to their specific needs or requirements. Targeting to segments in this way can significantly improve your ‘open’ rates.

Finally, don’t lie – ensure that your subject line is a truthful representation of the email content. If the reader opens the email and finds that the subject line has been misleading they will likely never open one of your emails again.

3. Customise your ‘From’ field

Readers are more likely to open an email from someone that they know. Be sure to send your emails from the same contact or department within your organisation. This will not only bring a more personal feel to the email but will also give the reader a clear indication of the topic of the email if various departments within your organisation undertake bulk email campaigns. If your brand is well-known, include your brand name within the ‘from’ line to increase familiarity.

4. Testing, testing

Why not send your planned email to yourself or a trusted colleague first? Seeing the email arrive in your own inbox can drastically change the way you perceive it. Would you open this email yourself if it were sent to you? What encourages you to open an email and is it missing from the email now on your screen in front of you?

5. Timing

We all have busier times of the day. The attention we give to emails might increase as our workload decreases and vice versa. By carefully timing the point at which you send your email, you can target your readers when they are likely to be most perceptive to your message. You wouldn’t send an email advertising your Christmas card business in January, would you?

It is generally accepted that just after lunch is the best time to send an email to gain a response. On which day of the week it is best to send an email is a contentious issue. We would recommend that you avoid Monday and Friday as everyone is either extremely busy (Monday) or slowing down for the weekend (Friday).

Everyone I have spoken to has a different opinion and so the best recommendation I can give is to test it for yourself. There is a school of thought that the best day varies between Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as email marketers realise one day is better than the others and all send email on that day. Over time therefore, other days become free and then these days become the best day on which to send an email – it’s an ever-moving target!

So, there are my top five basic tips for improving your email ‘open’ rates. The topic of improving the effectiveness of your email marketing is a huge one and part of many long hours of discussion here at Intergage.

If you’d like us to act as a Consultant on any of your email marketing projects or would just like some friendly advice, then please do get in contact on 0845 456 1022.

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