What’s Affecting Your Email Open Rates? 5 Best Practices

what affects open rates

Email campaigns are effective…when they’re opened, that is. Email marketers have now come to expect low open rates with the average being around 20%. But given the amount of time and creativity invested in each email campaign, and the fact that email is the most direct way to communicate to your consumers, low open rates amount to both a waste of investment and potential.

We look at four best practices to boost open rates and engage your customers.

5 Practices To Positively Affect Open Rates

1. Be transparent at signup

The last thing you want is for your email to be marked as spam.

If customers or leads continually flag your messages as unwanted, their email provider will direct your email straight to the spam folder. Obviously, that’s not good news for your open rates.

So, you need to make sure that your emails are wanted by the receiver. The most obvious way to do that is by using an opt-in box at signup.

Pre-checked opt-in boxes don’t count – you can’t assume consent unless told otherwise. Subscribers must explicitly give their permission for you to send emails.

Your email list will be smaller, but much better quality, with genuine leads.

2. Make it easy to unsubscribe

There are several good reasons to facilitate unsubscription.

Firstly, and most importantly, to comply with norms and laws around data protection such as the US CAN-SPAM law. Secondly, subscribers will simply find another way to never see your emails again, i.e. mark them as spam. Thirdly, forcing your way into a customer’s (or potential customer’s) inbox will only negatively impact their sentiment towards your brand.

If someone unsubscribes from your email address, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want your services or that they never want to hear from you again. Your aim is to keep them happy and, ideally, engaged through other channels.

Once they have unsubscribed, automatically direct them to a landing page with a thankful message confirming their unsubscription, and ask them if they’d prefer a different type of contact (for example, if they’d still like to hear about offers and discounts). Link your social media channels.

Now is also your opportunity to find out why they unsubscribed. Give them the option to give feedback on the frequency and relevancy of your newsletters. This information can help you to improve your email strategy and boost open rates.

3. Email often enough, but not too often

Over the years, the top reason given for why people unsubscribe from newsletters is “too many emails.” While it might feel like a clever idea to increase engagement by upping the frequency of your newsletters, you don’t want it to come at the expense of losing subscribers unnecessarily. It’s a poor long-term strategy.

So how often should you send them? Most companies send email newsletters weekly or multiple times a month. But is that right for your business?

Sadly, there’s no neat answer to that question. Aviva insurance increased its email revenue by 45% (pdf) by sending emails more frequently, while an eCommerce company saw revenues drop by almost a third when they sent out weekly 3-4 emails a month.

If you can offer varied, high-quality content that’s tailored to different segments of your audience then you can afford to send emails more frequently, but there’s still a tipping point.

The best technique is to experiment and look at your data to determine how email frequency affects open rates for your business. Look closely to observe how different segments of your audience respond. From there you can adjust your frequency on a more personalised basis.

4. Land in inboxes at the right time

Best time of day

Generally, optimal timing is between 9 and 11 am when people first settle into their workday and begin opening their emails.

Best day

Studies show that email open rates peak between Tuesday and Thursday. People are in the swing of their work week, and fall into a rhythm of regularly opening their emails.

There isn’t a significant difference in open rates Monday-Friday, with another study by email marketing company MailerLite even showing that Monday is the second-best day (after Wednesday) for sending emails.

Though the studies differ slightly, one thing is consistently agreed upon: open rates fall drastically during the weekend.

Individualise sending time

Some email marketing services now offer Delivery Time Optimisation (DTO) which uses machine intelligence to send emails at the optimal time for each customer. That way, your emails are sent at the precise time when your customers are most likely to engage.

5. Target your messaging

If your customer base isn’t homogenous then neither should your emails be. Use customer segmentation to consistently send relevant emails that resonate.

There are many parameters by which you can segment your audience including age, gender, location, likes and interests, website interactions, etc. Adjust the content of your emails accordingly to appeal to different sections of your audience.

One effective and lesser-known way to segment your audience is via their personality traits. Do you make decisions based on logic and reason or by emotion and feeling? When you read people’s reviews do you prefer to get facts and stats, or do you prefer to hear about their experience of the product? These subtle differences in communication directly impact whether you’re convinced by a marketing campaign.

Segment your audience by personality and refine your messaging accordingly (particularly in your subject line) to increase open rates and engagement.

Symanto offers two models to measure consumer personality: Symanto Psychographics and Symanto Big Five. Our technology uses natural language processing (NLP) technology to analyse even short texts and give accurate insights into what makes consumers tick.

Get Started With Symanto

If you want to learn more about the impact of targeting by psychographics get in touch or book your free personalised demonstration.