Many companies focus on inbound marketing, using content creation and influencers to draw in new customers. However, outbound advertising is far from dead; and email marketing campaigns still have the potential to be incredibly successful. Companies using emails report a return on investment (ROI) of $32 for each $1 spent, according to research by DMA. Of course, no two campaigns are created equal, and translating that potential into a reality for your brand isn’t always easy. Even getting recipients to open an email is a difficult task, which is why it’s important to know the best techniques to improve email open rates.

Get the Subject Line Right

The subject line is the first thing (and sometimes only thing) the recipient sees. You need to ensure the subject is engaging and instantly hooks attention. Consider these ways to make those first few words more compelling:

  • Include an emoji: Research has shown 56 percent of brands that put an emoji in the subject line have a higher open rate than brands that don’t, according to Forbes. The tiny images are more eye-catching than words, and help to convey a message rapidly. Just make sure you don’t include too many, and keep the emojis relevant to the email’s content.
  • Keep it snappy: A short, catchy title is important. It conveys information quickly, encourages the recipient to read on and there’s no risk of losing the end of the subject line when viewed in a small window.
  • Use approachable language: Keeping the tone friendly and engaging is more enticing.
  • Spell check: Your subject should be clear, understandable and free from errors. You don’t want your email to look like spam.
  • Test: The only real way to know if your title is getting the best results possible is to test it. Continue to refine what you do until you’re getting the results you expect.

Keep it Personal

Everybody likes to feel special. A great way to engage with your audience is to make everybody believe you’re talking with them personally. In fact, emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened, according to Campaign Monitor. Make sure your emails address the recipients by name, and then maintain a tone that feels personal. 

Additionally, give your company a human face. An email from a company instantly looks like a piece of advertising and the recipient may disregard it. Instead, send the email from a specific person, and maintain that friendly tone that makes people feel valued.

Maintain Your Contacts List

If you want high open rates for your emails, you need to send the emails to people who want them. Top tips for maintaining your contact list include:

  • Don’t buy contacts: Buying leads is an obvious way to build a database, but you end up with contact information for people who simply aren’t interested in what you’re selling.
  • Remove inactive contacts: Regularly clear out inactive subscribers, or email addresses that always bounce back your correspondence.
  • Check spellings: When people submit their email details, they may make simple spelling mistakes, such as leaving out the “a” in Gmail. Going through your data and correcting obvious errors ensures more of your emails reach their intended recipients.
  • Group recipients: You don’t need to send every email to every person on your list. Marketers using segmented campaigns enjoyed a 760 percent increase in email revenue, according to Campaign Monitor. Find ways to group your contact data so you’re serving the right content to the right people.

Optimize for Mobile

Mobile clients accounted for 41.9 percent of email opens in the first quarter of 2019, according to Litmus. Considering the increasing amount of online activity undertaken on portable devices, it’s important to ensure your correspondence is optimized accordingly. Short, simple paragraphs and limited use of large images make emails more readable on a phone. Also, put your most important information at the top of the email in case readers on the move get distracted or don’t scroll all the way to the bottom. You should consider using buttons instead of links, as they’re easier to operate on touchscreens.

Avoid the Spam Filters

It doesn’t matter how interesting your email is if nobody sees it languishing in a spam filter. You can’t always avoid getting caught by automated screening, but you should do everything possible to minimize the risk. Limit the use of “red flag” words that might appear in spam messages, such as “sale” or “free,” and ensure your subject line doesn’t sound like a sales pitch. Limit the number of links you use, and try to make your content rich and engaging.

Final Thought: Think About the Future

When it comes to email marketing, and customer retention, content is key to success. Getting someone to open an email is hard; but if the content is good, they’re more likely to open future emails. Once recipients come to expect quality content, they look forward to your correspondence. That’s when email open rates soar.

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