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Open Rates Lagging? Here Are 3 Ways You Can Boost Them

Phillip Reinhardt

Email marketing is still one of the most effective tools to engage with existing customers, drive conversions, and reconnect with lapsed customers. In fact, about 75% of all businesses in a recent Econsultancy survey confirmed that email marketing provided either a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ return on investment.

Email marketing ROI begins with your open rate. If people aren’t opening your emails as often as they should be, they aren’t going to click through, and they aren’t going to convert. A good rule of thumb is that 20% is a good open rate, but that will vary depending on your industry. Settling for average isn’t a good way to drive exceptional results, however, so you should always aim to maximize your open rate. Once you have people opening your messages in drove, you can expect more clicks and conversions, and you should start optimizing for those metrics, too.

In order to get you set down the path of more profitable email marketing, here are three ways you can boost underperforming open rates:

1. Make Sure Your IP Address is Warm

If you haven’t been sending emails very long, or switched email services recently, it’s likely that you’re sending from a new IP address. This is important because email ISPs (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo!, etc.) will begin to bounce your emails from a ‘cold’ IP if you send too quickly or aren’t getting enough engagement. If you never bothered to warm your IP address in the first place and started sending massive amounts of emails, this could very well be the reason your bounce and open rates are so low.

Here are some good standards for warming up a new IP address:

  • Limit your volume – ideally, no more than 10,000 emails per day. Begin with your best customers, and remove any graymail users.
  • Break these lists down further by ISP. For example, you don’t want to send all 10,000 emails in a single day just to Gmail recipients. For notoriously hard to warm up ISPs (such as Hotmail), consider limited to 500 per day.
  • Keep at it. Send to a different list each day, gradually increasing volume so long as bounce rates stay low (below 10%) and unsubscriptions remain low (around 0.1%).

If you’re having problems with any specific ISP, turn to your very best customers. Send emails only to know engaged openers for those ISPs for your next couple sends. Then gradually increase your numbers.

2. Start A/B Testing in Real-Time

A:B Email Testing

A/B testing is a tried-and-true method to figure out what works best for marketing purposes. However, almost all email marketing platforms today let you integrate A/B testing and capitalize on the results right away! Simply change the content to your emails up and designate how much of your list should be included in the test – they’ll be sent emails right away (click here for a handy calculator on how much of your list should be included for this testing). Then, select how long the test should go for. Generally, the longer the test runs the better, at least 24 hours would be ideal. Then, once the test run is completed, the remaining portion of your audience will automatically be sent the ‘winning’ email, which is to say the email that had the best results. For the purpose of open rates, you’ll want to focus content changes regarding subject lines and preheader text.

3. Schedule Emails Carefully

The single best time to send your emails depends on your audience and the message you’re trying to deliver. If you’re starting to stagnate, consider sending emails at a different time. Perhaps you continue to send on Tuesday to those subscribers who are already opening and engaging, but try Wednesday evening or even Saturday morning for the rest of your database. Test constantly and always think carefully about when your message is getting scheduled.

Email marketing is here to stay, no matter what your marketing goals are. By following the advice discussed above, you’ll improve your open rates and ultimately improve your bottom-line.