It's a Thin Line Between Open and Delete — The Keys to Improving Open Rates

Nov 1, 2017 3:30:43 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

Catchy subject lines and targeted campaigns are essential tactics for improving open rates, but there is much more you can do and it won’t require a lot of heavy lifting. So if you don’t have a lot of time or resources to dedicate to your email campaigns but know they need work, we’re here to provide some simple tips that will improve your open rates.

Nothing is simple in email marketing, you say? You're unsure of what you’re doing? That’s OK. Let’s start with the basics. Here are a few simple — and effective — keys to improving open rates.

Improving Open Rates with the Right Subject Lines

Yes, we already mentioned this, and yes, crafting witty and engaging subject lines can seem like a process that requires a team of humorists and writers. But you don’t have to be Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain to craft an effective email subject line. Again, start with the basics. Be short and sweet; clear and concise. DON’T YELL BY TYPING IN ALL CAPS and don’t be misleading. Be clear about what the recipient will get by opening that email (and make sure that what they get is providing value). Generate excitement and grab attention, but be sure to avoid spam trigger words like “click here” or “limited time offer.”

Get people curious and play to their emotions. If your subject line resonates with your audience, they’ll be more likely to open that email. Solve problems. Make life easier. Make them laugh or smile. Challenge them to look at things from a different perspective. You know your audience and you know what makes them tick. What will they react to? What would make you want to open the email? Treat your emails as conversations. The subject line is your opener; your ice breaker. And if you can’t properly convey all you want to in a concise subject line, make sure the first line of the email is packed with content. Many email programs show the first sentence in the inbox, and almost all mobile email apps display it as well. In most cases you’ve got two or three seconds to entice your audience to open your email.

Improving Open Rates by Keeping Your Lists Fresh

Before you even think about segmenting your email lists (which you should do), you need to make sure your lists are fresh and filled with engaged subscribers. Even if you don’t typically get a lot of unsubscribes, your lists could still be stale. Maybe some of your customers, prospects or other readers have moved to different companies or changed their email addresses. Maybe they’re no longer interested in your offerings. Whatever the case may be, if you have contacts that haven’t engaged with any of your emails in the past six months or longer, it’s probably time to let them go. But before you do, take that list of inactive subscribers and give them one last chance. Send them a “Was It Something We Said?” email and ask if they still want to remain a subscriber. Keep the ones who respond and purge the rest.

Likewise, regularly check in with your active subscribers and give them an opportunity to update their information and/or preferences. Don’t leave it at that, however. Include a short survey and ask your contacts a few questions. What problems are they having in their business? What concerns them in the industry? By knowing what’s on your contacts’ minds, you’ll know what type of information to include in future emails. Which bring us to …

Improving Open Rates with Great Content

You’ve heard it before: content is king. And it is, especially in B2B marketing. You’re dealing with busy people and decision makers. A fluff email with no real content has no place in the inboxes of customers and prospects. Whether you create or curate your emails, you’ve got to deliver valuable content.

Yes, you can still sell, but if you only send promotional emails, you’ll get ignored. Always provide value first. Again, you know your audience. Give them what they want! Look at your clients’ websites and social media channels. What are they talking about? How about industry groups and associations? What about the competition (yours and your clients’)? Keep your finger on the pulse. You want your clients to know that you understand them, their needs, and their industry. Create content around that, and your contacts will look forward to your emails.

If you can’t create worthwhile content, curate it! Find and share useful items that highlight the issues and topics your audience cares about most. And don’t regurgitate content, make it your own. Share your take on it. Discuss how it will affect your clients (and what you can do to help). Showcase that you are a leader in your space and that you not only know the news, you know what to do to stay out in front of it.

Bottom line, if your emails are seen as must-reads that are filled with interesting, engaging, and informative content, your open rates will rise. It’s all about the right message, at the right place and the right time.

Looking for assistance with improving open rates? We’re masters at getting to know our clients’ industries and offerings and creating compelling content. Contact us today!