Recently I was having coffee with another small business owner and they were expressing their frustration with their email marketing.
“My email open rates are horrible, what can I do?”
I have my personal opinions on this, and without seeing what they were sending I offered a few standard tips. Later that day, just for kicks, I searched "How to improve email open rates".
Google returned 171 million results.
Neither you nor I have the time to sort through all that. So, let me share just a handful you can try now.
Top 5 things you can do to kick up your open rates a notch
1) You've Got to Know When to Send 'em.
No website (nor WebExpertista) can tell you when to send your email. YOU need to KNOW your audience. Once you know that you can do some research and testing to see what works best for your business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
One leading business website says late Tuesday morning is the best time to send an email. That might be great for Monday-through-Friday office workers. But that won't work if your audience is service providers who might be out visiting clients in the middle of the week.
What if your audience is work-from-home parents? I'm pretty sure you DON'T want to drop your email blast at 7:55 am on a weekday when Mom or Dad is dropping kids at school. Similarly, if your audience works all weekend, your email may not be what they want to read first thing Monday morning.
You have to know who your customers are and then determine when you think is the best time to reach them. Try it.. Then, try again. Keep track of what works to use for the next time.
2) It's the subject line, stupid.
What really makes someone open an email is quite simple, the subject line. How does your email stand out when on average a person receives 100+ emails a day?
Think back to English 101 - Who, What, Where, When, Why. Then, add EVN. Emotions, Value, Numbers.
Use words that evoke emotions or make people curious. “Let’s celebrate…” or “Would 50 more leads make you happy?
Include a word that suggests value. Earn, Learn, Gain.
Numbers always help. Aren’t you reading this because you want FIVE tips?
And speaking of numbers, I agree with the consensus that 8 words in a subject line is generally enough - and 32 characters is about the maximum length as that’s a common cutoff when viewed on a mobile device.
3) Email marketing must be relevant.
Whatever the purpose of your email, make the content relevant and timely. As a personal pet peeve, nothing bugs me more than holiday “special offers”.
For example, a European company recently sent me a special offer on the 4th of July. Don’t they know it’s a holiday here? I’m much more likely to be grilling than working at my desk. Omaha Steaks, on the other hand, got it right, just a day or two before. "99c Burgers & Franks - July 4th Special!" Now that's relevant to how I'm spending my day. And they offered free shipping. Their content was timely and meaningful. (They offer amazing customer service, by the way!)
4) Remember the Alamo.
Actually, remember the mobile phone. These days more than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device.
If your email isn't formatted correctly, no one will have the patience to resize your image, scroll to find the phone number, or call you. Make sure to use a template that is responsive, give them a link to your phone number, strip out images.
"MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM!"
5) Dear Abby... or is it Abbie?
Make it personal, but make sure it's accurate. Look back into your emails and see how many are personalized. In my case, it's not too many. If your email to me is customized with my name you score a couple of karma points with me. It's not that difficult, and at least I know you took a few extra seconds of effort on the email campaign.
By the way, did you know, that most email programs will let you customize the subject line using special formatting codes? You can insert any information that you have stored for that subscriber, such as the last item they purchased
Example: Hi <first name>, thanks for purchasing <insert item here>
(Don’t forget… any information you store about a customer can be used to segment content to send entirely different emails.)
One bonus thought. Emails that are part of a coherent campaign tend to be more effective and purposeful. They also allow you to continually gather information about your subscribers so that you can personalize even further. (More about segmentation and personalization in a future post.)
For now, these are just the tip (well, five tips) of the iceberg that will work with any email software you are using.
If you would like a resource guide with closer to 171 million* ways to improve your open rates, it's coming soon. (*Actually my top 20)
Good luck with your next email marketing campaign. As always, if you have any questions or need some help, shoot me an email.