Improving Email Open Rates
It’s particularly important to be aware of the factors that play into your open rates, because, above and beyond your reputation, there are a lot of things that can impact this metric.
First and foremost is your overall reputation. This is where EmailDelivered comes into play. Our goal is to get your reputation scores up into the 90s and to keep them there. We work with the ISPs to remove blocks, provide weekly reports for maintenance and work with you on your feedback loops/complaints.
Assuming that your scores are 90 or greater, these primary issues are probably not a factor. (If your scores ARE lower than 90, then we let you know why and how to correct the issues.) Often it is due to list quality and spam complaints, both of which are important to pay careful attention to on your end as they will affect your overall email results whether you're mailing from your own IPs or via an ESP with shared IPs.
In addition, EmailDelivered ensures that you are set up with the proper headers for best results including DKIM, domainkeys, SPF and SenderID. However, we have no control over your message content, domain reputation, etc.
Now… if all of these are in place and you are still concerned about overall performance, here are several things to consider:
1. What metrics are you comparing results TO?
Many ESPs provide you with TOTAL opens while many self-hosted email applications provide unique opens. If this is the case, then naturally, when comparing old results to new, there may be a skew.
2. List quality.
Are you uploading old leads? Leads that you have purchased? Co-reg leads? Etc. (Basically any leads that did not specifically opt in to your list or engage within the past 12-18 months.)For obvious reasons, you will see lower open rates here simply because the relationship is stale. Segment these leads from your current/high quality leads so that you can get a realistic picture of what's going on with different segments of your list.
Consider sending from different IPs/domains based on engagement AND creating a re-engagement sequence for older leads.
NOTE: If you are adding a lot of these leads to your existing list, not only can this affect your open rates, but it can also affect the overall inbox placement of your emails. The ISPs pay attention to engagement metrics and are doing so more and more as of late.
Let's just say that your entire list is double-opt in. If, over the years, subscriber A stops opening your emails, eventually, all of your emails for that subscriber will be filtered into his/her junk folder. When this happens on a large scale, inbox placement overall can be affected- even if you have an absolutely perfect reputation.
To help combat this, consider teaching your subscribers to whitelist your email address at the point of opting in. Here is a free subscriber-level whitelist generator you can use:
TIP: Be sure to use the "From" email address that your emails come from in the generator.
4. Check your message content.
Split test subject lines… Review your content… Make sure that it's relevant to your subscribers and in line with what was promised at the point of opting in. Consider dropping your less frequent openers to a lesser frequency and/or putting them through a re-engagement series.
Test the days of the week and times of your emails. What works for one marketer does not necessarily work for another. We have clients that have better results mailing between 2-4pm Eastern while other customers with the same general market have best results mailing at 4am. TEST FOR YOUR LIST.
The other thing to consider is time of year. Overall Internet activity declines over the summer. Open rates drop, interaction drops, etc. People are simply not as engaged during the summer.
In addition, during times of year when email volume is at it's peak (i.e. Thanksgiving through New Years), open rates are often down because subscribers are getting much more email than they do during other times of the year.
NOTE: DO NOT use misleading subject lines simply to get the open! This increases spam complaints and can do more harm than good in the long term (not to mention, misleading subject lines are an absolute violation of CAN-SPAM).
Lastly, it is always a good idea to verify that you are following the best practices for the ISPs. All of the major ISPs provide specific best practices and it's a good idea to review them regularly. If you find that you have high reputations and are not hitting the inbox, we can contact the ISPs and request whitelisting of your IPs. However, we are limited to 1 request per ISP every 6 months, so if you are not following all of the best practices for a particular ISP, this can cause more harm than good.
One final note… ISPs often tighten their filters from time to time. Generally, within 2-3 weeks, things go back to normal, but in some cases, they may actually change their recommended best practices.
Our goal as your email partner is to help you achieve the best results with your email marketing by managing your reputation, keeping your scores high, alerting you of potential problems, and going to bat on your behalf with the ISPs.
As the marketer, it's important to constantly be looking at your list quality, interaction, relationship with your list, and overall campaign strategy. Engagement is becoming more and more important so be sure to include a "subscribe-based whitelisting" strategy, re-engagement campaigns for people that haven't opened your messages within a certain time period, and to regularly test, re-test, and test again.
Author: Heather Seitz
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This information has been provided by http://www.EmailDelivered.com and written by Heather Seitz. To find out more on Improving Email Open Rates, visit http://www.emaildelivered.com/email-marketing/improving-email-open-rates/. Don’t forget to sign up for the EmailDelivered Pulse newsletter for articles, tips, and recommended resources related to email marketing and email deliverability.
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