There’s nothing more frustrating than spending time and energy on an email campaign only to earn a dismal and depressing open rate.
What’s the point in stealing time out of your busy schedule to send out carefully crafted emails when no one’s going to even read them?
That would be like me writing this article and then leaving it in my Google Drive folder never to be seen by another pair of eyes. What a waste of my impressive skill and creativity!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but If no one is opening your emails there’s likely a reason (or 5) why.
This article will show you 5 reasons why your emails are not being read and how you can start your open rate on the upward climb.
1. Your Subject Line Isn’t Enticing
You had to have known reading this article that subject line was going to be one of the main reasons why email open rates flatline.
Reading the subject line of an email is like picking a book off the shelf at that little shop around the corner and only reading the title. Does it entice you to want to learn more?
It seems like when it comes to email, people really don’t have an issue judging you by your subject line. For that reason, there are a few things you need to remember:
Keep it short (under 40 characters) and not too salesy
Your subject line shouldn’t come across as too hypey or promotional, the goal is for it to grab the attention of subscribers so they open the email and read the rest of your content. Against general best practices, you should avoid the words “Free,” “Help” “% Off” and “Reminder” which come across as too salesy and can also trigger spam filters. The goal of your subject line is to sell your email, not your products.
It needs to be specific and unique to your business
You need to think about who your audience is, what will make them click and what you can offer them that’s different from any other business. A question is a great way to reel in subscribers and catch their attention. It can hint at a need or issue they’re facing, inspiring them to click through to find the solution in the body of the email.
The more personal the better
A more recent trend is to personalize subject lines by including the recipient’s first, last or full name in the subject line itself. A study by Marketing Sherpa found that personalizing the subject line can increase open rates by over 17%.
A personalized subject line is like a dinner party, with a big long table and a dozen people all talking at once. You can be focusing on a single conversation with someone opposite you, but when someone says your name down the table your ears perk up and you can’t help but turn their way.
An example of a personalized B2B email subject line can be seen below. The sender “Kapost” has personalized it by adding in our business name, automatically grabbing my co worker James’ attention as it stands out from the rest of the clutter in his inbox.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget about preview text!
In most email inboxes (including Gmail and mobile formats) you now also get a small preview of the email’s body content. In the Kapost example above this is the text that reads “No matter how much time, effort and money you dedicate to content…” This means the first few words of your email’s text are crucial in getting your email read. Make sure to use this space to your advantage, giving recipients a glimpse of what to expect while also allowing for some curiosity.
2. Your “From” Address Isn’t Personal
It’s possible your emails aren’t getting opened because they seem generic or corporate. Having a personalized “From” address creates a more personal connection to your recipients. Think about it, would you rather receive an email from “Wishpond” or “Claire at Wishpond?” By including an employee’s name, subscribers feel like it was written by an actual person rather than an automated email provider.
Including your company name may still be important to your business if it is recognizable to your subscriber list and maintains consistency. Using the company name and a first name keeps a balance of personalization and branding.
If you look at the mail app on your mobile device, you will also notice the “from” address is larger and bolder (as seen below) than it is on desktop. This means that in today’s mobile age (in which the majority of emails are opened on a phone), sender familiarity is even more crucial and debatably even more powerful than the subject line.
3. Your Timing is Off
When should you send? Are your subscribers more likely to read that email over breakfast in the morning or during the day during a work break?
Open rates can vary drastically based on the time and day of the week you are sending them. They’ll also vary depending on your industry and the timezone of your audience, so testing different times is vital. Mailchimp’s analysis of over a billion emails found that opens increased after 12 pm, and were highest between 2 and 5 pm. But Kissmetrics has found that the highest open rates occur in the early morning hours, and that consumer promotional emails are more likely to be opened late in the evening.
Research is also a mixed bag when it comes to the best day of the week to hit the send button. Kissmetrics discovered the highest open rates on the weekend along with the highest bounce rates. But, most marketers will agree that sending emails later in the week leads to better results, as inboxes tend to be too swamped and overwhelming to actually delve into on Mondays or Tuesdays.
So when should I send my emails?
If you learn anything from the past two paragraphs, it’s that nobody knows. And I’d love to, really. But it’s all too variable. What I can do is recommend that you (as we do) test, test and test some more.
4. You’ve Fatigued Your List
More is definitely not always better. No one likes fatigue.
If you’ve over-mailed your list, chances are you’ve noticed that your open rates are nothing to be proud of. I can think of nothing worse than having a recipient sigh and hit delete every time they see my name pop up in their inbox. Doesn’t sound like a very rewarding relationship to me.
If you’ve seen Kissmetrics’ The Science of Timing Infographic, you will know that they recommend sending 1-4 emails per month. That’s a good place to start, but once again it will be different depending on your industry or business’ audience. You need to test to see how often your subscribers want to receive content from you, and how much time they have weekly to dedicate to your emails.
It will also depend on your relationship with the individual subscribers. After all, email is the best relationship builder in marketing. If they’re a new subscriber, sending emails more frequently may make sense in order to nurture them into a paying customer and show them everything you have to offer.
Just be sure that you’re not over-sending to the point of annoyance. Even if it is helpful content that you’re sending them, the opening and reading of an email shouldn’t feel like a chore in their daily routine.
Email frequency and engagement are negatively correlated. This means the more you send, the less your subscribers are going to engage. At the same time you want to remain top of mind in the recipient’s brain so you need to find a happy balance between the two.
Once again, the “right” answer is going to be dependent on your audience, but blasting isn’t definitely not the solution.
5. You Haven’t Segmented Your Email Lists
List segmentation is one of the most important aspects of a successful email campaign.
If you want to have a high open rate, you need to be sending emails to people who actually want information on that specific topic.
By narrowing your pool of recipients you can deliver content suited to a targeted audience’s needs as well as boost the chance of an open.
Let’s break it down with an example. You’re a ski and snowboard company selling to men and women with a target age of 18-35. If you have an upcoming sale on all women’s winter wear, chances are men are not going to be hugely interested in this promotion. By segmenting based on gender, you can get your promotional email into the inboxes of just those list members who are more likely to open and read the content.
Segment your email leads based off of
- stage of the sales funnel
- past purchase history
If you don’t have all of this information, gradually collect it from leads as they complete actions associated with your business. You can have form fields on ebook downloads, purchase confirmation pages, etc. The more you know about your email lists, the easier it will be to provide them with content or information directly relevant to their needs.
By analyzing the open rates of over 200 million emails, Mailchimp found segmented campaigns to have an average of a 14.4% better open rate than non-segmented campaigns. I think that statistic alone proves that segmentation is crucial to an upward sloping open rate.
If no one’s opening your emails, take it as a hint that something needs to change. Optimize your subject line and from address to excite readers and build a personal relationship with your segmented lists. Remember that need to give your subscribers the right information at the right time, without coming across as too pushy or needy.
Email marketing campaigns take time and care to reach success. By following these 5 email no no’s you’ll be on the right path to giving your emails the best possible shot at standing out from inbox clutter.