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3 Simple Ways to Increase Your Email Open Rates in Under an Hour
Posted on April 17th 2014
Your email marketing campaigns have been humming along nicely. You built a great subscriber list with double opt-in subscription, smart segmenting, and the best email service provider (ESP).
You have a strong brand, killer offers, brilliant creative, and a stunning responsive website.
And your email open rates are flat-lining or declining.
Is it you, or your subscribers?
Most people (especially us marketers) don’t like to open emails from people or brands they do not know or trust. That’s part of the reason why “Junk” or “Spam” folders exist. The last thing you want is for people to mistake your email for one of those unwanted and unsolicited messages.
It pays to take a step back and look at your email marketing from the customer’s perspective. It is remarkably easy to get buried in the fire drill of getting each email out the door, and difficult to find the time to pause and focus on email fundamentals. And you most likely have a whole suite of stakeholders that you have to appease to get each email approved and sent. Let’s focus on simple things you can do today to increase your email open rates quickly.
Here are three simple ways to increase your open rates that can all be done in less than an hour. (And won’t take a committee to approve.)
1. Choose the right ‘from’ name
The easiest way to determine the best “From Name” is to answer the question:
“How will people quickly recognize my business or organization from the email?”
If your subscribers don’t recognize whom the email is from, they likely won’t remember they signed up for it and will think it’s not relevant. That’s a sure recipe for emails not getting opened (or worse).
Here are some examples from my inbox (Gmail’s promotions tab) that show several different versions of the ‘from name’. They range from brand only to a mix of person-from-brand. Both can work as long as both tell the customer exactly who the sender is.
Be clear, consistent, and customer focused.
2. Update your ‘from email address’
Chances are you set up your email subscriber list and email address a long time ago. Times change–has your ‘from email’ changed? Take a look at the email address that your email program reports as the ‘from’ address. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it instantly recognizable to my customers? (see above)
- Does it convey the right brand image?
While it may seem like a small detail, according to Experian, 68 percent of consumers decide to open an email primarily because of their familiarity with the person or brand sending it. If the ‘from email address’ is a confusing, internally focused placeholder it is time to change it.
Choose a ‘from email address’ that uses your domain (@acmewidgets.com) and a customer friendly name that conveys the message you want. If you sell widgets, something like: Widgetsuccess@acmewidgets.com or firstname.lastname@example.org can work to instill confidence and branding. Stay away from conveying an unfriendly message in your ‘from email address’ like email@example.com.
You can even mix personal and branded by using the name of a customer facing person at the company like firstname.lastname@example.org. Just be aware that as people change in the company you need to update that from email.
Your email address is branding and trust.
3. Use the pre-header text to engage your subscribers
OK, so this one may take a bit longer than an hour since you have to do it for each email, but the concept is simple.
Most modern email clients display the pre-header text and/or the first sentence of your email in a preview or snippet. Too often this does not encourage your customers to open your email. The Email Institute did a good article on pre-header texts that is worth a re-read.
Instead of using generic text, think about how each element can move your customers one step closer to opening the email and reading more. Does it add value to you or just tell you to expect the email to fail? (The most common pre-header we see is “If this email is not displaying correctly click here.” which does not exactly encourage email opening)
Start with the catchy, truthful, not too long headline -45-60 characters long (aka subject line). Make your sub-headline (aka pre-header) compliment or contrast the headline to encourage them to open the email. The goal of headlines and sub headlines is to get your subscribers to open your email and read the next sentence.
Use the pre-header and first sentence to encourage opens.
A great way to see how these simple things might be impacting your email opens is to study your emails in your own inbox and pretend you are your own customer.
Look at it with fresh eyes:
- Would you open the email?
- Can you instantly recognize whom the email is from?
- Does the headline grab your attention and make you want to read more?
- Does the pre-header text complete the next step of the headline?
Did you open it?
Sometimes simple things can get in the way of our email marketing success. In today’s ever more crowded email inbox it is crucial to stand out from the herd. Being instantly recognizable and relevant to people who already know, trust and like your brand is the best way to get noticed and get opened.