Email is the preferred method of communication for 72% of U.S. business, according to a recent study by MarketingSherpa. Like all marketing activities, it’s important to approach email with a planned strategy for grabbing the attention of your subscribers. Used properly, email has proved to be the most cost-effective and influential marketing platform.

The task you’re faced with is not getting your email into your customers’ crowded inboxes, but to get them to actually open the message. Then it’s up to the content to compel them to take action.

The average open rate for a marketing email is 11-15%, and the click-through rate from there lies between 2-5%, as outlined in an infographic from MarketingProfs. If your percentages are falling below those figures, some strategic fine-tuning is required to add a level of personalization and humanization to your messages.

You need to grab the attention of the audience within an instant of them opening the email; promotional offers and images often do the trick. Segment your list so that you can more closely target your audience’s interests. Put across your message in a unique, fun or exciting way to keep them engaged.

It’s all about testing different approaches until you find something that works. If you’re experiencing a low open rate, try the below strategies.

Enticing, Personalized Subject Lines

A study by Jay Baer found that 35% of email recipients open their emails based solely on the subject line. The subject line of your marketing email will make or break its success. Be sure to personalize your subject lines, and be descriptive so as to lure your audience in for more information. Your subject lines must be strong, eye-catching and inspiring if they are to stand out among the plethora of emails your customers are weeding through.

Email subject lines

Be Concise

Short subject lines have proven to be the most effective. A recent study found that three-word subject lines provoked the highest engagement rates (21.2%), although only 1.6% of emails are titled that concisely. Be descriptive, while concise, without overwhelming your reader.

Avoid Buzzwords

You might think that including buzzwords like “free”, “sale” or “guaranteed” would grab the attention of your customer. However, this is not the case, and including these words can actually hurt your open rate.

If you use these terms regularly in your subject lines, the chances are that most of your emails are automatically being filtered to a junk folder. And even in the event that it makes the inbox, the use of ‘spammy’ words can deter readers.

Speak Directly to Your Audience

Add a custom field to your subject line and you’ll be able to target each member of your audience directly, consequently increasing the open rate. Email marketing services usually include customization tools, so try them out and see what works for you.

Email subject line

Spelling and Grammar

Never get sloppy with your spelling and grammar. Punctuation is essential, but try to avoid coming across too salesy or robotic.

Writing your subject line in all capitals, with a typo, or with excessive exclamation will only detract from your message. A recent study from ClickZ found that subjects which included a question had a 44% higher open rate than those with exclamations about promotions.

Inspire your reader with an enticing question, and lure them in to find out more in the email. Be personal, casual, and speak directly to your customers.

Segment Your List

Segmenting your email list allows you to target your readers more effectively.  A message you’re sending out might not be relevant for everyone on your list, so create a segment and send the email specifically to that group. Below are some of the common fields used to segment email lists.

  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Industry
  • Interests
  • Date subscribed
  • Purchase history
  • Age
  • Gender

You can also take things a little further by analysing what your subscribers have engaged with in the past, and targeting accordingly. Most away from email blasts that deliver the same email to thousands of people, and narrow your list for customized communication.

Responsive Design for Mobile

Just like your website, marketing emails must have a responsive design. The user experience must be consistent across any devices used by your audience.

Mobile devices now account for over half of all emails opened, as found by a recent study by Constant Contact, and more than three-quarters of subscribers will delete your message if it can’t be read on a mobile device.

Your safest best is to assume your readers are accessing it on a smartphone. Ensure your entire subject line displays on a standard phone screen, and that the font is clearly legible. No matter how busy a customer is, they’ll still find time to check their email inbox between tasks.

The Takeaway

Don’t be scared to try out new tactics and approaches. Keep things interesting, fresh and fun to grab the attention of your audience.

Customize your list to be more personal in communications with your customers. Target them directly and they’ll be more likely to bite.

And if you find your open rate still is not as high as you’d hoped, keep trying new strategies, and analysing, until you find something that works.

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