Email can be a very effective marketing tool for small business owners, but to get the most out of your efforts, you need to lay the foundation for success. If you’ve been struggling to get better engagement with your emails, check out these 5 hacks to improve your email open rate.

What is an email open rate?

email marketingAn email open rate is the percentage of the total number of subscribers who opened an email campaign. While these rates can vary depending on the subject line and the relevancy of the subject matter to a subscriber’s interest, a good open rate is typically 20 to 40%. Open rates to vary by industry, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at your open rates.

Make sure your emails are getting delivered

You’d be surprised how many emails never get delivered because they’ve been caught in a spam filter. While you can’t 100% guarantee you’ll escape from getting pulled into a spam folder, here are some terms you’ll want to avoid to enhance your deliverability rate:

  • Free
  • Act now
  • Apply now
  • 100%
  • Guarantee
  • Instant
  • Risk-free
  • Urgent
  • While supplies last

If you Google “spam words to avoid in email subject lines” you’ll find a TON of lists; some as high as listing 400+. Here’s a straightforward list of terms most commonly used that should be avoided.

Make sure your email is optimized for mobile

email optimized for mobileMobile email will account for up to 77% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type. As a matter of fact, 81% uses a smartphone for regularly checking emails. Having a mobile-friendly email is extremely important to your email open rate. 71.6% of consumers will delete emails if they don’t look good on mobile, while an average of 10% will read it anyway. According to Adestra “Consumer Adoption & Usage Study” (2016). The best way to make sure your emails are mobile-friendly is to find a use an email template in your email marketing system that is set up to resolve well on smart phones and other mobile devices. Many of these platforms, including Constant Contact, will allow you to review your email before you sent it to ensure it’s looks good on mobile devices. Be sure to use these templates to improve your email open rate!

Don’t buy email lists

It can be a huge temptation to buy an email list but it’s not a good idea in the long run. Sure, there may be vetted lists of people who might be interested in hearing about the product or service you sell, but they don’t know YOU or your company; you’ll likely come across as a spammy, out of the blue email. If you’re lucky, they’ll just delete the email if they’re not interested but if you’re not so lucky, they’ll mark you as spam, which can be detrimental to future email marketing efforts. The time you save by not building your email list organically harms your company’s bottom line, reputation, email reputation, and other things that make your business strong. Buying email lists for your marketing efforts is a mistake.

Use compelling subject lines to entice readers to open it

compelling emailOptinmonster wrote a great article, “164 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rate”. They not only shared examples, but the reasoning behind them, and the guide actually is broken down into different sections based on what the tone of your email is. Brilliant! Remember, with email marketing, the aim is to achieve a high open rate and, ideally, a high click rate. Though the body of an email is always the most important element to focus on, the first section that will engage your audience is the subject line.

Segment your email marketing list for better focus in your messaging

It’s surprising how few marketers overlooks this fairly simple yet critical step in effective email marketing. Email list segmentation means to divide up your mass email list to better put email lists in certain buckets. This helps small businesses better personalize email messages based on the recipient. Personalization is slicing up your email list into segments based on what you know about each user—like their buying habits, familiarity with your company, and professional background—and then sending each segment of people personalized information. Yes, it takes some legwork ahead of time, but once your segmentation is set up, it’s easy to maintain it. Not sure how best to segment your list?  Even if you start very simple, such as segmenting between customers and prospects, you’re already ahead of the game and targeting your email marketing more than many other small businesses. From there, you can divide those lists based on service or product interests. You’ll see how much more effective your emails will be when they’re more targeted to the interests of the recipient, resulting in a better email open rate.

These are 5 hacks to improve your email open rate. If you need help with your small business email marketing efforts, reach out to a small business marketing professional to help. You’ll soon see how email marketing can be a valuable component of your overall marketing efforts.

Patty Hughes
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