How to Get People to Actually Open Your Marketing Emails

“Email isn’t dead. It’s one of the few marketing channels we can use to build an authentic connection with the humans that keep our businesses alive.”

Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective platforms for digital marketers. It has survived every new fad and trend, existing as the foundation for marketing strategy and audience engagement. Especially as organizations move toward personalized content, email marketing continues to offer the highest ROI of any marketing channel.

However, marketing teams now face a new challenge in the digital marketing world; modern inboxes are overflowing with content from every brand we have ever interacted with. So, if your organization has been wondering, “how can we cut through the clutter and get people to actually open our emails?”, then you’re in luck. Today our team at Beyond Definition is going to talk about a few of the key strategies you can utilize to improve email marketing open rates.

Before We Start…

Open rate isn’t the only measurable that marketing teams should focus on. There are plenty of other metrics like clickthrough rate and HTML click maps that are equally important.

However, the open rate tells you a few things:

  • The quality of your list
  • The strength of your message
  • The interest in your topic
  • The perception of your brand

If people aren’t opening your emails or routinely send it straight to their trash, then it’s time to re-analyze how your brand comes across and what your messaging is trying to say. If you have decent open rates, but still have room to improve, remember to establish your benchmarks before creating an email marketing campaign. Knowing your audience persona, researching the average email stats for your industry, and having ideal goals in mind will pay dividends in the long-run.

Here are a few more ways to get people to actually open your marketing emails.

Write a Targeted Headline

After your performance metrics have been established, it’s time to start crafting an email. And as many marketers know, everything starts with an engaging headline. Try to summarize your email in an interesting way, dropping hints at what’s inside without revealing the whole story.

For example, we recently sent out an email to invite viewers to our new YouTube show, “Going Beyond”. The headline Introducing “Going Beyond”, a new series by Beyond Definition is simple, yet it gets our message across. You immediately know that the email will contain information about the show, what the name of the show is, and are left wondering what exactly the show will be about. The open rate was higher than our previous five emails, and other metrics were far better as well because people were interested. Headlines don’t have to be complicated. If someone doesn’t understand what your email headline means, chances are, they probably won’t open it.

Offer People a Way to Sign-Up

An email list is every marketing team’s most powerful tool. It’s a group of people who have given you permission to send them content. While it may be a slow burn to build your email list, every new subscriber is an opportunity to connect with a real fan of your brand. So what does this have to do with the open rate? Well, if you obtain followers in an organic and transparent way, then they are more likely to engage with the emails you send out. For example, a subscribe form like this one offers an overview of what our subscribers can expect from each type of content we send out. Experiment with different ways for people to opt-in to receive emails and track the content that gets the most link clicks.

Use Analytics to Improve Timing and Messaging

Every small modification that you make to an email marketing campaign can lead to huge results. Maybe sending out your emails at 9:00 AM on Monday mornings isn’t working. A shift to later in the day or to Tuesday, when respondents are statistically more likely to open your emails, might be just what your campaign is missing. Take advantage of every analytical insight you can to fill in content gaps and provide your audience with relevant, engaging information. Another option is A/B testing, which measures engagement for different versions of the same email. After creating the initial email, your team would then develop a “B” version to gauge how different variations impact your results. For example, you may want to test how two different subject lines perform or see if conversion rates improve when you type in bulleted lists instead of paragraphs.

Treat Subscribers Like Humans

At the end of the day, organizations need to remember that subscribers are just people. When creating an email, think about what you would want and expect from the organizations you subscribe to. What headlines and content do you connect with? Why do you open emails from one company and not another?

People don’t always want to hear from brands. Pushing out a hard sell or creating vague content for the sake of it won’t build authentic relationships with your subscribers.

Key Takeaways

  • Open rate isn’t the only benchmark to focus on, but it’s an important place for marketing teams to start
  • A targeted headline should focus on readability, not complex language
  • Offer people an easy way to join your community
  • Email marketing requires testing to hit the sweet spot for your audience
  • Subscribers are humans too — market to them how you want to be marketed to

Want To Take This Conversation Beyond?

Send us your questions and comments on Twitter @bdagencysocial. And be sure to check out our new YouTube series, “Going Beyond,” where we (virtually) sit down with passionate brand leaders in technology, higher education, healthcare, non-profits, and more. Recently, Michelle Shen, Manager of Marketing & Communications at Little Kids Rock, virtually stopped by the Going Beyond Studio to talk about the digital strategies her team is using to keep engagement levels high for their Annual Summit in July.

Watch the episode here.

Jonah Malin's headshot

Jonah Malin

Jonah Malin is a creative marketing professional, crafting story-driven content to execute a diverse range of digital, print, and social deliverables.

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