Resources Hub » Blog » Unconventional Tips to Improve Open Rates in 2020

Take a look at your current email inbox. How many emails did you receive today? How many did you receive in the past hour? You’re most likely scanning for your favorite brands or catchy subject lines—and the others are largely ignored.

With the average person receiving 121 emails a day, competition is stiff for brands who want to stand out. You need to not only have a catchy subject line but impeccable content, so your subscribers continue opening your emails and converting into customers. Keeping your open rates at the industry standard or higher shows that your emails are engaging and helps demonstrate a higher ROI.

How can you increase your email open rates? While there are plenty of resources out there that discuss simple adjustments to email copy or design, you need to go above and beyond if you want to compete with the biggest brands. Read on to discover a few unconventional tips to improve open rates and hook your subscribers in for more.

What are open rates?

Before jumping in on the tips to improve open rates, you need to know what an open rate is and how it affects your campaign’s success. The open rate in email marketing is defined by the percentage of the total times your specific email campaign was opened by subscribers. You can calculate the open rate by:

Open rate = unique opens / (sent emails – bounced emails)

formula showing open rate is equal to emails opened divided by total of email sent minus emails bounced

While often combined with other performance metrics like click-through or unsubscribe rate, email open rates are one of the key indicators to help you understand how your email campaign performed and where you need to improve.

For example, if you notice a low open rate, you may need to A/B test future subject lines and monitor the performance. Or it might be a sign that your subscribers are fatigued, and you need to adjust your sending cadence.

If your subscribers aren’t opening your emails, they aren’t reading your superb content and converting into customers. Improving and monitoring your open rate is a big step in optimizing your entire email strategy.

Industry open rate benchmarks

Campaign Monitor recently analyzed over 30 billion emails sent globally in 2019 to learn key takeaways for email marketers. If you’re ready to increase your open rates but are unsure where to start, take a look at these industry benchmarks:

Average Industry Open Rates in 2019

See the full report here.

While the average open rate overall is 17.8%, Consumer Packaged Goods, Automotive and Aerospace, Food and Beverage, and Retail industries all saw decreased open rates compared to the previous year.

It was also discovered that Tuesday produces the highest open rate, but also the highest unsubscribe rate, showing marketers don’t need to chase the “best day” to send. Rather, follow best practices and produce high-quality content to see increased open rates.

Tips to improve open rates for your email campaigns

Now that you understand the metric, it’s time to look at a few unconventional tips to improve open rates on your future campaigns.

1. Become a subject line master.

Your subject line is the first impression every subscriber has of your email and brand. It’s a huge factor in your open rate and needs to stand out in the crowded inbox. For years, many brands have used the same subject line formula, which has subsequently been filtered out as white noise by consumers.

If you want to drive conversions, you need to get creative and try different subject line variations. Here are a few ways you can craft unique copy for your subject lines.

  • Ask a question. Using a question is a great way to make a more personal connection with your subscribers by directly addressing their problems or needs. A question also poses a bit of mystery, which often intrigues people to want to know more.
  • Be straightforward. Sometimes it pays off to stop beating around the bush and just tell your readers what to expect from your email. For example, if you have something to announce, just be direct and tell your audience.
  • Make a list. Insert numbers so the subscriber knows what to expect from opening your email. Lists are also digestible content that readers feel comfortable quickly reading.
  • Create a teaser. Believe it or not, people actually love cliff hangers. Creating a teaser for your subject line will entice subscribers to read more.
  • Choose your language carefully. Use the same language and tone that your audience does. The right language will help you appear more relatable.
  • Use reverse psychology. Tell your subscriber not to open your email. While it seems silly, it’s a great way to pique your subscriber’s interest because it’s not typical. However, your email content has to be high-quality for the subscriber to keep coming back.

Petsmart Utilizes a List in Easter Subject Line

2. Send your emails at the right time.

When you send your email can have a large impact on whether your emails are opened, so it’s important to carefully research past performance with correlating send times. While you may not be able to perfect your strategy immediately, you can A/B test your emails to identify which time frames work best for your audience, so you can implement them in future campaigns.

According to research we’ve done, this is the breakdown of emails opened:

 Email Send Times Breakdown

The 9 a.m.–5 p.m. weekday schedule resulted in 53% of emails being opened with a peak time right before lunch, and a majority of these emails occurred on a mobile device. While these are standards, it’s still important to test your industry and take into account your audience’s age, location, and occupation. Perhaps your audience winds scrolls through their email before bed or while heading to school.

Bottom line: Imagine how your audience spends their day to help you determine an ideal send time.

3. Use email best practices.

There are a few simple steps you can take to improve visibility and success among subscribers.

For email best practices, consider these tips.

4. Micro-segment your audience list.

One of the many advantages of email marketing is that you can connect with your subscriber on a one-to-one level, meaning the email needs to be hyper-relevant to the individual’s needs, location, interests, and more. Consumers demand this kind of relevance with their communications, so much so that personalization has become the standard for email marketers.

Segmenting your email list is one of the best ways to increase your email’s relevance and open rate. If you’re a retail company, you can segment your audience based on the specific items those customers have purchased. If your subscriber downloaded a whitepaper and ended up on your email list, send them similar content to what originally caught their attention.

Once you have your segments pinned down, it’s much easier to craft clever subject lines because you know what your audiences prefer.

Netflix Personalizes Email Based on Watch History

Source: Really Good Emails

5. Write like a friend and share humor.

If you’re looking to grab your subscriber’s attention, put your business hat aside and write like a friend. The average consumer isn’t fooled by corporate-speak, so changing your tone is an easy way for you to appear more human and relatable.
Consider these two phrases:

  • Corporate tone: “We’re offering our customers big savings on featured product lines!”
  • Friendly tone: “This deal was made for you.”

Along with your tone, try injecting some humor into your content to entertain and surprise your subscribers. How many times have you opened an email with a funny cat GIF or a witty joke? Most likely, it made you smile and had an impact on your opinion about the brand.

The key to using humor is understanding your audience. What’s funny to the millennial generation isn’t necessarily funny to Gen X, so knowing their likes and dislikes will help you land the joke and create more engaging content.

Blue Apron Uses Humor in Email

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

Ready to boost your open rates and bottom line? If you’re looking to keep improving your email strategy and engage with more subscribers, open rates are crucial. However, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Give yourself a little wiggle room and keep testing new techniques.

To get started, consider these helpful tips:

  • Create engaging and unique subject lines.
  • Use email best practices.
  • Send your emails at the right time.
  • Segment your audience list for more personalization.
  • Use a friendly and funny tone in your content.

If you’re searching for more ways to increase your open rates, Campaign Monitor helps optimize send times and offers in-depth analytics. Sign up for free today.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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