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Email Marketing - 5 Easy Ways to Improve Open Rates

Posted by Brian Graves

Sep 12, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Email marketing gets a bad rap…but the truth is that over 80% of consumers still open emails sent by companies (Litmus) and the average email ROI is $44.25 for every $1 spent (Experian), so it’s a critical and cost-effective part of any successful marketing strategy.  The problem is that it’s impossible to close a new customer via email marketing if they don’t open your emails.  Here are 5 easy ways to improve your company’s email open rates and maximize your email marketing potential. email marketing - 5 easy ways to improve open rates

1.  Put your content in context: Not only do emails sent to lists of purchased email addresses have extremely low open rates, they also have extremely high SPAM reporting.  Be patient…acquire email lists gradually through customer opt-ins based on specific content interest.  Opt in preferences will give you the ability to segment your lists and be sure you’re only sending what your customers want, when they want it…which means they’ll keep opening and sharing your emails and you will reduce email opt outs. Learn how to capture more customer emails here.

2.  Subject Line Do’s and Don’ts: Sending better customer emails starts with better subject lines


  • Personalize the subject with the customer name to help remind them that they know you and have already begun the buyer’s journey with your company
  • Including a specific location in your subject (whenever possible) helps immediately establish relevance.
  • Be urgent and brief.  Subject lines of 10 characters or fewer have an average open rate of 50% (Adestra July 2012 report)


  • Use words like “Free,” “Act Now,” dollar signs, or exclamation points.  These, and similar words can trigger SPAM filters and are almost never clicked
  • Try to be witty or overly-clever with your subject line.  With the often hundreds of emails sent to consumers each day, they won’t click on what they don’t immediately understand
  • Use deceptive subject lines just to get a customer to open an email.

3.  Spend time on your preview text: Almost all email programs offer preview text and the majority of users take advantage of it.  Be sure that you include specific preview text that is brief, to the point, and specific with your email CTA.  10-15 words is about right.

4.  Send emails when they’ll be opened, not when they’ll be buried:  While emails sent on Mondays typically offer the highest ROI, every database is different.  Experiment with A/B testing and send emails on different days of the week and at different times until you find a good open rate.  If most emails are opened in the morning, that means that most of the companies are sending emails in the morning so there’s more competition…sometimes a Saturday morning email can garner a high open rate and as a result, more conversions, because you’re the only game in town.

5.  Keep your lists clean: 17% of Americans change their email address every 6 months, and over 30% change their email annually.  If you see your open rates steadily declining and you’re following all of the above steps, it might just be time to take a look at your list and remove addresses of those who haven’t opened an email in a while.

It is estimated that by 2016 the total number of email accounts worldwide will reach 4.3 billion (The Radicati Group, Email Statistics Report, 2012-2016) making email marketing one of the best values available.  Quality, relevant, content in the body of emails is just as important as always, but with steadily increasing competition, a focused and calculated approach to improving open rates is equally important to help your emails close.

Topics: Email Marketing

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