Email Marketing Campaigns: Increase Your Email Open Rate

Email lead generation is a funnel (see our previous post on Understanding the Online Lead Generation Funnel) for qualifying prospects who are most ready to buy. Every contact you send your email to enters the top of the funnel. There are two reasons contacts drop out before even receiving the email: due to bad or incorrect email addresses, and due to spam filters. The first problem should be handled by continual cleaning up of your opt-in contact list, which we’ll save that for another post. Avoiding spam filters has everything to do with a good subject line – which we talk about below. Once your message makes it to the recipient’s inbox, there are some important things you can do to entice him or her to open the message.

What’s a good open rate?

Open rates vary anywhere from 15%-35% based on industry, but mostly you should expect 20-30%. You should watch your open rates carefully, and track them based on subject line, day of the week, and time of day. Aside from Saturday and Sunday, which you should avoid, the day of the week you send your email affects each industry differently, and in some industries may not matter at all. If you have no data, begin by sending on Tuesday through Thursday. Then test Monday and Friday to see how they compare. Time of day can also affect open rates. For example, in some cases Monday morning is a bad because people come into work with a full in-box.

Email subject line – avoiding spam filters

Email Spam detector is like the Egg-dicator from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Veruca Salt flagged as spam

If you actually ARE a spammer, our advice won’t help you much. We’re just trying to keep legitimate email marketers from stumbling unknowingly into the spam folder. There are some pretty simple guidelines for avoiding spam filters. Most spam filters work by assigning points to “spammy” things in emails. The more spammy things you do, the higher your score. It’s kind of like the “Egg-dicator” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When the score exceeds the threshold set in the recipients email settings, your email drops into the spam folder (like Veruca into the bad-egg garbage bin).

First, avoid pitching the deal-of-the-century. Don’t talk about money, urgent one-time offers, money back guarantees. Also, be careful with percentages. Since spam filters flag anything that looks like a mortgage offer, things that look like a mortgage rate can get caught.

Here are some other spammy things to avoid, both in the subject line and the email:

  • Exclamation Points!!!!!!! (one’s okay!)
  • USING ALL CAPS IN EITHER THE SUBJECT LINE OR EMAIL!
  • Spammy phrases: “Click here!”, “Act Now!”, “Buy Now!” and “Why Pay More”
  • Bright Red or Green text
  • Using Microsoft Word to create your HTML email (this creates sloppy HTML associated with lazy spammers)
  • HTML email with nothing but one or more images very little text
  • Using the word “test” in the subject line
  • Sending a test to multiple contacts in the same company

Crafting a good email subject line

So good – you aren’t spam and didn’t mistakenly get put in the spam box. How do you entice your recipient to open the email and read your message? Easy rule of thumb: be honest, sincere, and state the value you intend to provide in the email. A common mistake is to treat the subject line like a catchy tag line. Catchy, ad-like subject lines can actually reduce open rates. Consider what the distribution list you are using opted-in for. If the opt-in was for new product announcements and industry news, try to craft your subject line to fit into one of those two categories. Just make sure that’s what your giving them in the email.

Deliver on the value you offer

Email marketing is an ongoing process. Like business and life in general, people appreciate good quality content and valuable information. Think about what your market wants and needs. Offer the information and entertainment they are looking for. And every time you offer something, make sure you deliver it.

Learn from each email marketing campaign

Each email you send is both a message and a test. Measure and track open rates, click-throughs and number of leads against the day and time of day. Make improvements each time and learn what works and what doesn’t. Your results will get better and better with each campaign.

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