Email Open Rates: The Good, The Bad, And The Ideas You Need To Get Better

The first step to assuring your email marketing is successful is getting great email open rates.

Without people opening your emails there’s no way the content contained within them can help grow your brand or earn clients for you.

But great email open rates appear to be difficult for businesses across the board to achieve.

On average, regardless of industry, email open rates are about 16% according to Constant Contact.

Honestly, based on my experience, that number sucks.

While these numbers are unique to Constant Contact customers, it’s not totally off base.

Mailchimp reports their clients average about 21%, which still isn’t very good.

Imagine you were only able to talk to 20% of the people that walked into your building.

You’d likely look for another way to get their attention.

Numbers like these explain why many people mistakenly believe that email marketing is no longer an effective way to reach customers.

However, about 60% of your audience wants to hear from you via email.

So, with most of your competition failing at email, and maybe even abandoning it, you’ve got an opportunity to reach your customers in a way that other brands aren’t.

To do that, you’re going to need to learn what to do differently to get your audience to open your emails.

Email Open Rates Are Only Part Of The Equation

Yes, email open rates are a major factor in successful email marketing.

There’s no way you can earn a client through an email if they don’t open it.

However, it’s not the only factor you’ve got to consider.

You need to know what it takes to make an email draw your readers to your website and help convert them to clients.

Understand how to get better email marketing results.

That takes an understanding of buying cycles and the lead nurturing process.

Email open rates are a strong place to start, but you can’t only rely on your ability to get them to open the emails.

It will take continued education about email marketing to assure your emails provide the estimated 4300% ROI it’s capable of.

I know, it sounds too good to be real, but it’s true.

Great email marketing has the largest ROI of any form of online marketing.

But that won’t help if you don’t master all of email marketing.

Don’t stop at getting people to open the emails.

A great email open rate alone won’t be enough.

Improve Your Email Open Rates With These Ideas

If you’re ready to master email marketing, open rates are a great start.

Your emails, after all, are useless when they aren’t opened.

There are a few key things you can do to easily improve your open rates.

Some will seem like common sense, and some will actually offer you immediate results.

Yes, this is one of the few times I can promise results very quickly.

Email open rates can be changed with actions that take a matter of minutes and earn results in a day or so. Click To Tweet

And, surprisingly, most of it doesn’t take much work.

Only a few minor changes and a lot more attention to detail are needed to get these tips working in your favor.

Unlike anything else I normally share, getting your email open rates up can be done in the period between two emails.

Even if you send multiple on the same day.

With that in mind, get ready to change the results you’re getting from your email marketing and blow the average email open rates out of the water.

Check Your Subject Lines

If you want better email open rates, your subject line is the place to start.

Subject lines are the first clue people have to the content of your email, and they’re usually the only thing that gets read.

That’s why the average email open rates are so dismally low.

Most email subject lines suck.

I hate to be so harsh about it, but the fact is that you won’t open an email unless the subject line gives you a damn good reason to.

And think about how many emails you ignore, delete, or hit the “mark as spam” button on.

So, if that’s how you’re treating emails when you’re not impressed by the subject lines, imagine why you might not be getting the email open rates you want.

Your subject lines.

Look at your last 3 subject lines and ask yourself if you’d open an email based on that alone, without knowing what’s in the email.

Even better if you don’t remember what was in that email.

It’s time to change the angle you take on them.

Shift the results you try to get from your subject lines.

Instead of being overly direct with the contents of the email, try to pique your audience’s interest and curiosity about the email’s contents.

Here are some ideas to help:

  • Ask a question
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Add personalization
  • Touch on their interests
  • Elicit emotions
  • Include lists and numbers
  • Make them curious

There are a ton of ways to improve your subject lines for better email open rates.

All it takes is a little creativity.

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Start Using Preheader Text

Have you ever noticed that some emails seem to have little messages under the subject line that don’t show up in the actual emails?

If you have, you were probably interested enough in what they said to open the email when the subject line alone wasn’t interesting enough to you.

Those little snippets are called preheader text, and they’re your second shot at getting better email open rates.

Preheader text is held within a special code in HTML-based emails that is hidden in the email body.

You can’t see it because it’s designed to replace an email preview and offer a little more information.

Used creatively, the preheader saves an email from the dreaded “deleted” folder before it’s been read.

Starting with a great subject line, the preheader text follows up with extra information to encourage the reader to open it.

A great preheader summary allows your email to stand out in your audience’s inbox and want to open your email.

These little snippets are about the length of an effective tweet at 35-140 characters.

So, using some of the rules that you may have learned about subject lines in the past, craft creative preheader texts that reinforce the subject line.

Couple those ideas with some of these:

  • Highlight why the email is worth their time
  • Hit them with a CTA
  • Finish the subject line’s thought
  • Hook them with curiosity (instead of in the subject)
  • Personalize it (when the subject isn’t)
  • Add an emoji or two

Also, you might have up to 140 characters available, but you don’t want to go too long.

Keep it around 100 characters, with the first 50 delivering the most important parts.

The rest is a bonus for the audiences that get to see more.

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Clean Out People Who Lower Your Email Open Rates

With luck, you’ve got a huge email list with a ton of people who, at one point, made great qualified leads.

However, some of those people are making your email open rates go down.

They simply don’t interact with what you send out anymore and it’s hurting your ability to deliver to other inboxes.

Other email addresses on your list are, for one reason or another, no longer accepting emails from you.

Maybe they’ve blocked your email address or maybe those email addresses no longer exist.

Either way, you have to do something to fix these issues if you want your emails to continue getting delivered.

It’s time to clean your email list of the old, outdated, and useless email addresses it contains.

This is a scary thing for many small business owners who fought hard to earn whatever leads they have.

Without a great lead list, it’s tough to earn new customers.

But if the people on your list aren’t reading your emails, they’re never going to become clients anyway.

Cleaning an email list is a two-step process, and it’s guaranteed to instantly boost your email open rates beginning with the first email you send after purging the list.

Send out an email to everyone on your email list asking them to confirm they still want to receive emails from you.

Only those who interact with the email by taking the action to confirm their interest will continue getting emails from you.

Essentially, you’ll be asking them to opt-into a new email list, which is the only one that will receive emails from you in the future.

By removing those who don’t confirm their emails, you’re taking out everyone who isn’t getting or opening your emails and only holding on to the leads who are paying attention.

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Use A Double Opt-In

You don’t want people who don’t open emails on your email list.

They’re not going to improve your email open rates.

Forcing people to choose to be on your email list by receiving an email, opening it, and confirming is the single most effective way of doing that.

If they don’t open an email to confirm they want to be on your list, why would they open any of the other emails?

It’s not going to happen.

With that in mind, it needs to be the first thing you ask anyone who signs up for your email list to do.

Get them to confirm their desire to receive emails from you while simultaneously proving that they’re going to be paying attention to their arrival.

Double opt-ins do exactly that automatically.

When someone signs up for any of your email lists, an opt-in email is sent to the email address they provided asking them to opt-in to receive your emails.

Those who don’t aren’t added to the email list and only affect your email open rates once.

Recipients who open the opt-in and follow through immediately begin to benefit your open rates and continue to do so, provided your emails are worth opening.

Setting up a double opt-in is simple, too.

Most email providers have the option to automatically send a default, generic one to every recipient.

Simply turn it on and begin the assurance that anyone who joins your list will open the emails they get.

And, by regularly cleaning your email list the way I described before, you can keep your list to only email openers.

That’s going to keep your email open rates way up.

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Guess Less By Testing More

If at this point in your marketing, you haven’t heard of A/B testing, it’s time for a lesson.

A/B testing is the process of showing two similar but slightly different versions of an end product to your audience and finding out which one performs better.

It’s a blind test, meaning your audience has no idea that there are alternatives as they’ll always see the same one.

Testing like this usually requires software, which most email marketing providers have available.

However, even without that software, you can split your lists to A/B test the emails being sent out.

Try a few different tactics to increase your email open rates across a few variations of the same email.

Use two or three different subject lines and a couple of different preheader messages per subject line.

Don’t exceed more variations than you can effectively track.

Find out which email variations earned more opens than the rest, then see what was different about them.

This kind of testing gives you real data about what attracts your audience to your emails, allowing you to produce better emails with higher open rates in the future.

By testing minor changes more often you’ll earn more data, and the more data you have the better educated you become.

They say knowledge is power, and when it comes to email open rates, making them go up is a powerful thing.

Earn as much knowledge as possible as fast as possible to have direct control over your future results.

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Send From A Person Instead Of A Box

I’m going to share two examples of email senders and you can choose which one you’re more likely to open an email from.

  • Michael McNew, Founder of Visceral Concepts
  • Visceral Concepts

I’d rather hear from the founder instead of a generic company.

Especially if I opted to receive emails from that company.

Remember, we’re talking about getting your email open rates up with your lead list.

These aren’t cold emails where the reaction to the sender may be drastically different.

Now, imagine it even worse.

Think about the emails you get from Newsletter or Do Not Reply.

There’s no way you’re going to open those emails.

Neither will your lead list.

And that illustrates the point, doesn’t it?

When you send your emails, make sure they’re coming from a real person and not a generic inbox name.

Your audience wants to hear from a real person and feel connected to someone at your company.

By assuring that every email sent comes from a real person, you help them do that better.

It also doesn’t hurt to make sure there’s a real person behind that inbox who can answer questions live if your audience wants to write a question or comment back.

Having a live person there reinforces the connection between you and your audience, helping their trust in your brand grow stronger.

Nothing is more powerful for your brand than letting your audience know you’ve got their back when they reach out to you.

Creating that bond assures they’re not going anywhere else.

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Wasting Your Audience’s Time Hurts Your Email Open Rates

Ok, you’ve come along this far.

Now it’s time to drop the biggest secret to better email open rates on you.

It’s going to shock you a little, I think.

But if you don’t apply this, you’ll never have better open rates for your email marketing long-term.

Are you ready?

Stop writing bad emails.

There’s no faster way to kill your email open rates than to send your audience something they don’t want, need, or care about.

Or, in an even worse email, give them something they want, but offer it in a boring, difficult to read, or broken format.

People who receive emails like that don’t usually keep reading them.

And neither would you.

That’s why the quality of your emails has to be something your audience can truly appreciate.

They will when they’re full of value and enjoyable – or at least easy – to read.

Take your time when crafting your emails to make sure they’re something worth reading.

Study what information your audience cares about and include the answers they want.

Make sure the right emails are getting to them at the right phase of the buying journey.

By sending emails they want to read, you help to assure they’ll continue to open your emails.

Which is exactly the outcome you’re looking for, isn’t it?

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You Can Skyrocket Your Email Open Rates Easily

I think I’ve demonstrated that email open rates aren’t hard to change.

If you’re still skeptical, you don’t lose any time finding out.

Put these tips to work and start seeing your open rates increase.

Sure, your email list may dwindle very low once you clean it.

And it’s also possible that it will take you time to build it back up by requiring a confirmation.

But if the addresses on your list aren’t opening your emails, they’re as good as nonexistent anyway.

By making sure your email open rates are as high as they can be, you’re getting the best possible return for your email marketing.

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Email Open Rates: The Good, The Bad, And The Ideas You Need To Get Better

by Michael McNew Read in 11 min