Email opening rates have remained stubbornly low for several years now. Various studies over the past three or four years have shown that only around 21% of all email marketing messages get opened. That means that eight out of ten of your customers are ignoring you. That’s not good.
The top sector – religion – is being ignored by over half its email congregation even with a whopping open rate of 48%. It seems that religious emails cannot preach to the converted as much as they would like.
So why is it that so many email marketing messages are ignored – and what can you do about it? Here are three things which will increase your open rate.
1. Have something interesting, useful and relevant to say
Email marketing messages that are just that – marketing – are frankly a waste of your time and money. Your emails are interrupting the day of your customers and potential clients. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are sitting in a restaurant, having a nice time with friends, when suddenly someone rushes up to your table brandishing some product and says “would you like to buy this?” You would no-doubt politely – perhaps not so politely – ignore them or tell them to go away. Yet, when you are sitting working or doing interesting stuff online some email marketing oik does exactly the same, interrupting you saying “hey, how about buying this?” However, go back to that imaginary restaurant. What if your conversation is interrupted by the person on the table next to you with some really interesting and useful information? The chances are you are more likely to listen. The same is true with emails – if they are interesting and give useful information we can use then we are more ready to accept that interruption. The reason so few marketing emails get opened is because they are marketing emails. Make them information emails and you increase your chances of being opened greatly. Think “how can I help my customers” and not “what can I sell to my customers”.
2. Use your recipient’s name and other details
If someone talks to you and never once mentions you by name you distance yourself from them psychologically. Your name is one of the most important aspects of your self-identity and when other people use it you attach to them more easily. Similarly, when they ask you “how are your children” or “is your decorating finished” they are demonstrating they are interested in you. Emails get few open rates because they largely show interest in the company sending out the message, rather than the recipient. Email marketing software, of course, allows you to use the person’s first name – but personalisation is more than that. You could collect other personal details such as location, job title, interests and so on which you use in your emails. The more you personalise the better – indeed research shows that if you use the person’s name in the subject line of the email you dramatically increase the open rate. Showing people you like them as an individual will gain higher open rates.
3. Make your subject lines like newspaper headlines
Newspaper headline writers have spent years discovering how to craft the perfect group of words to make people want to read something. Studies show that the headlines which get the most readers are those which are active, not passive. They also contain emotion and are not just flat statements. Furthermore they include human interest. If you use the recipient’s name in your subject line, there’s your human interest. So that only leaves you with two other considerations – active emotion. Instead of saying things like “Update on employment prospects” say “George, here’s how to get a pay rise” – it is on the same topic, but it has emotion and suggests action. Also, notice the word count has increased. Headlines in newspapers and email subject lines that contain around 6-11 words tend to get the most readers. Avoid short subject lines in emails – aim for 10 words, that will get you more opens too.
So, there you have it, three key ways to get your emails opened. You might have noticed a theme – focus on your customer, put yourself in their shoes and you will increase your chances of your emails being opened.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+