Boosting open rates isn’t a hack
Many ecommerce marketers are constantly on the hunt for “hacks” or quick fixes to boost their open rates. But getting high open rates isn’t just luck — in actuality, it’s pretty easy to control your open rates if you know what to do. Before you can even establish a baseline for what high open rates look like for you, you need to understand the different factors that come into play.
Instead of agonizing over the wording of your subject lines, whether or not to use emojis, or other minor tweaks that you can easily A/B test, you should pay close attention to who you’re sending to. For the most part, boosting open rates boils down to targeting the right audience.
Why are open rates important in the first place?
Many marketers know that open rates are important, but not much beyond that. It’s intuitive — people need to open your email before they can even think about making a purchase, right?
But open rates are important beyond just enabling people to make a purchase. They have a large hand in determining your sender score, which affects whether or not your emails will even make it to recipients’ inboxes. If you’re seeing consistently low open rates (below 10%), it’s more likely that your email campaigns will start winding up in the spam folder. This, of course, is something everyone wants to avoid.
So, what are some steps you can take to bring open rates up?
Find the right audience
If you’re seeing low open rates, the odds are high that you’re sending to an unengaged list. But don’t feel too bad; you’re not alone. Many marketers make the mistake of sending to their master list or an old list with many defunct email addresses, only to come away with low open rates.
Segmenting your list by engagement is a pretty straightforward process. First, define what engagement means to your business. This can vary from opened an email in the past 90 days to browsed your site in the past week — just make sure everyone you’re contacting is also subscribed to your newsletter list. If they’re just customers and not subscribers, they haven’t opted in to receive marketing emails and could be contributing to your low open rates.
Check out this post for more ideas on how you should define engagement.
One of the top reasons people unsubscribe from marketing emails is because they’re receiving too many. In fact, 69% of people who were polled listed this as their reason for unsubscribing. While someone unsubscribing doesn’t impact your open rates (someone actually has to open your email in order to unsubscribe), it can tell you something about how people really feel about you.
Lots of people passively unsubscribe by just not opening your emails anymore. This dip in engagement is what can lead to low open rates.
You can prevent this from happening by being super explicit about what you’re going to send off the bat. This includes — but isn’t limited to — content and sending frequency.
Think of it this way: if someone expects to get emails about travel tips but ends up only seeing 10% off sales on backpacks, they’re going to unsubscribe or stop opening your emails. Likewise, if someone expects to get a weekly newsletter but ends up getting emails every day, they’re going to unsubscribe or stop opening your emails.
Even better, you can let subscribers choose what content they receive and when. Which brings us to…
Give subscribers flexibility
It’s fairly easy to give your subscribers the option to choose how often they hear from you, and this is a great way to segment your newsletter list to ensure that you’re not over-emailing people.
It’s usually best to take things slow at the beginning — even if you send emails every day, start off sending new subscribers emails weekly. Give them the option to start getting them every day. If that’s how often they want to hear from you, they’ll make it happen. We did this with our own newsletter and noticed a huge bump in open rates.
One size doesn’t fit all
Even once you’ve narrowed down your audience, there are still steps you can take to make your emails more relevant to each individual. This includes things like adding dynamic tags to include recipients’ first names.
Another great way to make things more convenient for your subscribers (especially if you have an international audience) is to send your campaigns by time zone. If you catch someone at the right time of day, they’re more likely to open your email.
Whenever you send an email, you should keep your subscribers’ preference in mind. This is easier to do if you look at the data — where does someone live? When is the best time to contact them? How have they interacted with previous emails? How often do they want to hear from me?
These are all questions you should ask yourself before sending a campaign. If you do, you’ll see a marked increase in your open rates. And your click and conversion rates, too.