Email Open Rates 101: Everything you Need to Know

Email Open Rates 101: Everything you Need to Know

If you’re an email marketer, growing your subscriber list is one of your main ongoing goals. That said, having a large number of followers doesn’t guarantee success. Your marketing efforts won’t deliver strong results if no one is opening your emails.

That’s why it’s also important to focus on boosting your open rate. Taking certain essential steps, like optimizing your subject lines, segmenting your email lists, and tracking your key performance indicators will help you reach as many followers as possible.

If you’re wondering what is a good open rate for email, or even just what an open rate is in general, keep the following information in mind.

What is an Open Rate?

Let's start by defining our terms: An open rate for an email is simply the percentage of your followers who opened a message. The more followers read and engage with your content, the more effective your campaigns will be. High open rates inevitably lead to higher click through rates and conversions for your business, so taking steps to improve your email open rate is crucial to improving the overall effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

What is a Good Open Rate for Email?

So, what is a good open rate target for email marketers? Although the specific answer tends to vary from one industry to another, the average across several major industries is 20.81%. You may want to research average open rates in your specific field to get a better sense of what you should aim for.

You obviously want to address the problem if your open rate for email is below average. However, that doesn’t mean you should settle for “good enough.” You’ll gain a competitive advantage if your open rate is higher than most other marketers in your field. The tips below will help improve your email open rates.

How to Improve Email Open Rates

1. Subject Lines Tailored to the Recipient and Optimized

Getting more followers to open your emails can be easier than you might think. For instance, simply adding a recipient’s name to the subject line of an email can boost open rates by as much as 50%. That’s because consumers want personalized service now more than ever. Including their name in your subject line is an easy way to make an email feel more personal.

You also need to take length into account when trying to optimize your subject lines. The rule of thumb for most marketers is that a shorter subject line leads to a higher open rate. Short subject lines are great at quickly grabbing a reader's attention and are convenient for mobile, which typically displays only the first 35 characters or so.

However, a recent study has shown that longer subject lines, between 61 to 70 characters, had a higher average read rate. Subject lines with a higher character count are sometimes necessary to properly get the message of your email across without misleading your readers. The higher read rate could be a result of readers having a greater idea of what to expect from the email.

So while shorter subject lines may be more enticing, a longer subject line could communicate your message more accurately. Marketers should experiment with subject lines by A/B testing different lengths. 

2. Segment Your List.

You can take personalization a step further by segmenting your email list into multiple smaller lists. This makes it easier to send subscribers content that’s legitimately valuable to them and can drastically improve email open rates.

For example, perhaps you’re doing marketing for a company that regularly hosts branded events in major cities throughout the world. Sending emails about such events to followers who don’t live nearby is a surefire way to make the wrong impression.

On the other hand, if you segment your list so that followers only receive alerts about events they’ll actually be able to attend, you’ll avoid flooding their inboxes with irrelevant content. A recent study indicates segmented campaigns yield open rates that are nearly 15% higher than those of non-segmented campaigns.

Read More: List Segmentation - The Key to Email Marketing

3. Create Urgency and Stand Out.

Of course, personalizing a subject line and segmenting your list are not the only ways to improve email open rates. You should also focus on optimizing subject lines by creating a sense of urgency (“Don’t miss this deal!”), tying your content to an emotion, and using action verbs to encourage a follower to open a message. 

Creating urgency isn’t the only way to stand out in a prospect’s inbox. Using seasonal or time-based terms that could be important to your recipient and their business goals is a great strategy. For instance, the fiscal calendar year drives decisions for professionals in sales and marketing, so referencing the end of the quarter in your email subject line could get those folks to take action. 

4. Track Performance to Determine Factors Contributing to Open Rate for Email.

As with all email marketing, it’s also important to track your performance. Paying attention to key email marketing metrics helps you better understand which tactics best help you achieve your goals and improve your email open rates. For instance, you might find your followers are more likely to open your emails when you send them at a specific time of day. Scheduling your campaign accordingly is a simple way to boot your open rate for email.

5. Quality is Key.

Finally, provide quality content. Your followers won’t keep opening your emails if they don’t offer them any value. Incorporating valuable how-to info into your email marketing efforts, and subsequently your subject lines, could help your email open rates soar.

How-to content typically performs well because it shows you’re not just trying to sell, you’re offering assistance. This type of email particularly performs well with smaller companies as they are constantly striving to improve their systems and procedures. 

By keeping these tips in mind and following other best practices like email list verification, monitoring your campaigns, and perfecting your content, you can achieve an open rate for email that’s well above industry average.

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