Email marketing tips to improve your open and click through rates.

The inbox is a crowded place these days – especially with social distancing making it hard to connect in our usual ways. Between work messages, catch-ups with friends and family and countless promotional emails, it’s tricky to get your brand’s message to stand out.

When you’re marketing to your customers, email is one of the best tools at your disposal. However, adding an email address to your database is only half the battle. Once you’ve got your mailing list sorted, you need to make sure your message is opened and the content inside is compelling enough for people to click.

If you’re scratching your head as to how to improve your open and click-through rates, stay calm! We’ve got you covered. These email marketing tips will help you get your message seen by more people, get more enquiries coming in and help grow your business.

What is a good open and click through rate in 2020?

Before jumping into how to improve your email marketing, it’s a good idea to have a grasp of what makes a good open rate and click-through rate. While every industry varies slightly, there are some rough numbers you can use to benchmark your email newsletter performance compared to the average.

According to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate (OR) in Australia is 18.7%. However, this number changes a lot depending on which industry you’re in. Businesses in the education, automotive and non-profit sectors generally have a much higher open rate than those in retail or hospitality.

Meanwhile, the average click-through rate (CTR) sits at around 2.8%, although this also varies dramatically between industries. Education and nonprofits have a CTR above 4%, while those in retail, hospitality and consumer packaged goods average between 1.4% and 1.6%.

If you’re curious, here’s a look at the average email open rate, click-through rate and click-to-open ratio by industry:

Source: Campaign Monitor

Looking at industry benchmarks is a helpful way to get an idea of your email marketing performance.

If your performance is above average, chances are you have a solid and engaged mailing list with loyal customers and high-quality leads. On the other hand, if your open and click-through rates are leaving a little bit to be desired, it might be time to revisit your email marketing strategy.

RELATED: eBook: the small business guide to Customer Relationship Management.

How to build an email marketing strategy.

Done right, email campaigns are an absolute winner for your business. Studies show that for every $1 spent on email marketing you get $38 in return on investment.

Yep, you read that right.

From all the marketing platforms out there, email marketing delivers one of the highest returns, beating out social media, paid search and display advertising. But to reap the benefits, you need to have a solid strategy in place.

If you want to use email to win more business, these steps will help you build solid foundations for your email marketing plan.

Take a look at your current performance.

Already sending emails through email marketing software? Great. It’s time to take a deep dive into your EDM performance and figure out what’s working — and what you can improve on.

Take a look at some essential stats, including:

  • Total mailing list size
  • Average open rate
  • Average click-through rate
  • Average click-to-open ratio – this looks at how many people have clicked on the content in your email, relative to those that opened it.
  • Average unsubscribe rate
  • Average bounce rate – this is the number of subscribers that didn’t get your email because their provider returned the email back to you, similar to a Return to Sender message for direct mail.

Compare these to the industry averages above to get an idea of where your performance stands.

At the same time, try to look at trends over time:

  • Are your open rates increasing or decreasing?
  • Do you get better open rates at a certain time of day?
  • Which type of content performs best?

These numbers will help you get an idea of what you need to focus on moving forward, in order to boost your open and click-through rates.

Segment your subscribers.

Everybody wants to get a message that’s relevant to their interests and tailored for them. If you want to nail your email marketing, you can’t do it without segmentation.

Segmentation helps you target a specific group of people with a tailored message. It could be as simple as sending separate email newsletters to your leads and existing customers. However, if you have more detailed data at your fingertips, you can create email newsletters based on their interests, purchasing history, content preferences and more.

When you’re creating your strategy, start by thinking about your segmentation, then craft your newsletter — not the other way around. This simple switch in thinking will help you send more targeted, relevant emails and, in turn, increase your open and click-through rates.

Build out your email marketing calendar.

With an idea of your targeting possibilities and a clear idea of your past performance, it’s time to get to work fleshing out your plan for the year.

Start by pinpointing important dates for your business. If you’re in retail, this could be key sales periods such as Mother’s Day or a Christmas sale. Meanwhile, if you’re running a beauty business, it might be formal season or the lead-up to summer. These are crucial moments where an email newsletter can help you connect with customers and leads, and drive business.

If you need help planning it out, grab Yellow’s free Email campaign planner template. This is a handy starting point to help you map out your email marketing plan, then track the results.

How to improve your email marketing open and click-through rate.

The path to improving your click-through rate also depends on your open rate. After all, the more people that open your email, the more can click on the content inside. If a person never opens your email, the rest doesn’t matter.

If you want your content to reach more people on your mailing list, these email marketing tips should help you along.

RELATED: 8 examples of brilliant email marketing campaigns.

Collect more data.

If you’re not asking website visitors to opt in to receiving emails, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to get in touch with customers. Pop a link to subscribe on your website.

At the same time, make sure to collect customer data in-store at the time of purchase. These people have already purchased from you — making them prime ambassadors for your business in the future.

Focus on your subject line.

Want to get more opens? Work on your subject line. Data revealed that a third of all people say a subject line is the single most important factor in opening emails. On top of that, two-thirds will mark it as spam based on the subject alone.

While mastering subject lines feels like an art, there are a few things you can do to prime your subject line for opens:

  • Use personalisation. Emails with a personalised subject line are 26% more likely to be opened.
  • Keep it short. Most email apps or websites will cut off subject lines that are too long. Campaign Monitor found that the optimal subject line length for iPhones is 41 characters, while Gmail is roughly 70 characters.
  • Avoid spam trigger words. Terms like ‘Double your…’ and $$$ signs will send your email straight to the junk box.

Use preview text.

Preview text is the snippet of content that appears in your email preview pane. In your inbox, it looks like this:

Many businesses forget to create preview text, or leave it as the default ‘View this email in your browser’. However, this little sentence can have a big impact on your open rates. A study by Litmus also found that almost a quarter of people look at the preview text before deciding to open an email.

Next time you’re crafting your newsletter, don’t forget to write preview text. Keep it between 40-130 characters long so it appears on mobile and desktop, and use it as a teaser for the content inside.

Don’t forget about your sender name.

If your open rates are lower than expected, it could be because of something as simple as your sender name. Because people get so much spam these days, they might not open your email if they don’t trust the sender.

Luckily, there’s a simple fix for this: hop on to your email marketing platform and make sure your sender name looks professional and trustworthy. Opt for the name of your business or, for a more personal touch, combine your name with the name of your company: for example, Anna from Yellow.

Optimise for mobile.

Today, more than half of all emails are read on mobile phones. Time is precious, and if your design isn’t optimised for mobile, people might simply give up and click out of the email.

Whether you’re coding from scratch or using email marketing templates, keep these tips in mind to optimise for mobile:

  • Use a responsive design that works across mobile and desktop. This means your content will scale depending on the size of the screen it’s being opened on.
  • Make it easily scanned. Most people will be reading emails on the go. Help them find the information they’re looking for with clear subheadings, keep text short and break up the email with images.
  • Test on mobile as well as desktop. When you send a test email to yourself, open it on your email client. This way, you can check that everything looks as it should on the small screen.

Include a clear call-to-action (CTA).

It might seem incredibly simple, but one of the best ways to win the click is to tell them to click. Be clear on what you want people to do — for example, a button that says ‘Click here’ or ‘View more’ — and they’ll be more likely to do it.

At the same time, make your call-to-action as obvious as possible. Put your CTA on a button, underline it, or pop an arrow next to it to ensure readers know it’s a clickable link.

Figure out the best time to send emails.

When it comes to email, timing matters a lot. Emails sent on a Tuesday afternoon might perform better than emails on a Friday night or Monday morning.

Campaign Monitor has a handy benchmark of the best days to send emails; however, it ultimately comes down to your subscriber behaviour. Look at your previous performance and industry benchmarks, then test out different send times to see when the best time is to send emails.

Test and learn.

Testing and learning is one of the most effective ways to improve your open and click through rates. In most email marketing platforms, you can run A/B tests on your subject line, send times, the content within your email, or all of the above. Start with a hypothesis and test one thing at a time. Evaluate the results, test again, then implement your findings for future emails.

Clean your email list.

If you’ve tried everything and your open rates still aren’t going up, it could be time to spring clean your email list. Over time, people naturally might become less engaged with the content you’re sending, or they might switch email addresses — leaving you with a bunch of ‘dead’ subscribers in your list.

Every six months or one year, take a look at your subscriber activity to identify any subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in a while. Send out a re-engagement email to these people to check in and see if they’re still keen to receive your emails. While you might have a few unsubscribes, this ensures that the people who remain on your list really want to be there.

Want to get more from your email marketing?

Pocket Office’s email marketing services have it covered. Plan, schedule and track your email newsletter performance, all from one platform. Get started today.

Manage your email marketing campaigns and much more with Yellow's Pocket Office.

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