If there’s one email marketing metric everyone asks about, it’s open rates. And it makes sense. If your subscribers don’t open, they don’t read, then they don’t click to buy your products and services.
And to make matters more confusing, with the new iOS update rolling out that hinders our ability to even track open rates, it’s that much more important to have the principles of what gets people to open down pat.
Of course, the question is, how do you improve your open rates? Especially if you’re sick of hearing the same old tips about benefit-driven subject lines.
It’s deeper than that, and there’s so much more you can do that will make the entire email marketing thing way easier for you.
Let me show you.
What are Email Open Rates?
Your open rates are the percentage of subscribers that open an email campaign. So if you have an email blast that you send to 10,000 subscribers, per instance, and 5,000 of them open the email, your open rate is 50%.
The same counts for email automations (drip campaigns) as well. For instance, let’s say you have a welcome email that has been dripped out to 10,000 subscribers over time, and 8,500 of them opened it. Your open rate for that welcome email is then 85%.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s nuance to this. Bounced and unsubscribed emails don’t count towards your open rate.
How to Track Your Open Rates
Any email software you use will have an analytics system in place. From there, you should be able to see your email open rates in addition to other primary metrics like click-through rates, replies, etc.
What is a Good Email Open Rate
You’ll find industry benchmarks all over the place, and most email service providers have available industry benchmarks for reference. The issue is that these aren’t all reliable.
For example: Campaign Monitor’s benchmarks will vary wildly from MailChimp, which would vary wildly from the next one. Why is this?
It’s because these companies can only measure benchmarks used in their specific software. And each software has its own servers, reputation with Gmail servers, etc. Meaning – since each software’s own performance varies, they can’t possibly give consistent benchmarks that illustrate what your email’s performance should be.
But Here are Some Rules to Live By:
- If you get below 10% open rates you’re likely in the spam folder. We recommend using a tool like GlockApps to troubleshoot this.
- Otherwise, a good open rate for you is better than before. It’s best to compete against your own benchmarks since the rest aren’t consistent and can’t be trusted.
So, take a look at your current averages with open rates, and use the following tips to race against yourself in the big game of Email Marketing.
Open Rate Tip #1: Personalize Your Email’s Identity With Profile Photo & a Person’s Name
Didn’t expect this one, did you? Open your email client on your phone or computer, and take a look at all of the brands that don’t have profile photos. You might even notice that your eyes are first drawn to the few that do.
This is why we recommend it. You immediately stand out and become a human in a sea full of perceived marketing bots when you add a profile photo to your email. In addition to that, personalize even deeper with an actual name instead of a brand name.
Think about it: who would you rather open an email from? A brand, or a person you feel you have a relationship with?
Remember: email was one of the first forms of social media. It’s meant to be social. To connect with people. And even for people who rarely use email for personal connections, they still admit that if they get an email from a friend, they’re opening it immediately.
Open Rate Tip #2: Use Emojis in Your Subject Lines & Preview Text
Again, this one’s about pulling eyes to your email in a crowded inbox. Before they open it, they have to see it. If your email looks like everyone else’s (visually), you won’t have as much pull.
But if it has a color or shape to it that stands out – now your email becomes the focal point of the inbox, at least for long enough for them to read the subject line & decide if they really want to open.
Open Rate Tip #3: Cliffhanger Before They Open
It’s astounding how many brands don’t make proper use of their preview text, but we’re not here to judge. Just to help.
Your preview text is what the subscriber sees before opening the email. You get a few characters on desktop and a few more on mobile depending on how you have your banner notifications set up. Regardless, the point is that the subscriber has much more than a subject line alone weighing in on the decision to open the email. Use it!
Our favorite thing to do is give subscribers a Cliffhanger (or an “open loop” in direct response marketing) before they open the email, that will compel them to open and see what’s inside.
For instance, “FNAME, I was going to call you today, but…”
If anyone sees that preview text they’re going to wonder “But what? What did you want to call me about? Why did you change your mind?” And that’s kind of the point. The thing that makes cliffhangers and open loops so powerful is that they give people questions to ask, instead of answers.
And while you may hear that giving value is the way to get conversions, it’s actually giving questions that makes people move down the rabbit hole.
Open Rate Tip #4: Use the Current Email to Support Your Next Email’s Open Rates
Your open rates are also affected by the email that’s sent before the one you’re measuring.
This is an insidious one that most people don’t pay attention to, but think about it:
- If you make a good, funny, or entertaining impression on a person, they’re more likely to be happy to hear from you again
- Likewise, if you make a lackluster impression on a person, they’re less likely to want to hear from you again
Your last impression impacts your next impression, every time. Be cognizant of this when you write your emails.
Note: You can max out this tip by remembering the point about open loops from the last tip. Open loops don’t have to be in the preview text. They can be anywhere, including in the last email.
Try writing a P.S. that gets your subscribers curious about the next email they should expect from you, and see what that does to your open rates.
Open Rate Tip #5: It’s Not the Subject Line, It’s Your Name
The goal isn’t to find the subject line that gets the best open rates. The goal is to make them love seeing your name in their inbox so much they’ll open no matter what subject line is attached to it.
This is where the real gold lies with email marketing. And you won’t find that in having an impersonal brand that only sends promotional emails.
Send entertainment. Send connection.
Yes, always stick to the pre-frame, but it doesn’t have to be all business all the time. This is your community, you’re serving. Connect with them in a real way, and they’ll love to open your emails no matter what tips you’re following.
I know these are a bit outside of the box, so a quick recap for you to copy & paste into your notes section. (And set a reminder to use it)!
- Use a profile photo and a personal name
- Grab some emojis for your subject line and preview text
- Get them curious in the preview text
- Remember each email supports the next
- Make them love seeing your name pop up so they open no matter what
Get Our Help With Your Email Marketing
If this all sounds like a lot to do, our team can help. We write high-converting sales copy using a data-driven system, and I (Tori) personally help with strategy & implementation.
Book a call with our team to see how we lower your risk of wasting time & money on email marketing.
If you’d rather DIY it, check out Email Profits – a featherweight program that helps you pull more revenue from your email list in as little as 5 minutes a day (seriously, no BS).