Increase Your Email Open Rates

Much has been made of best times, day of week, effective subject lines and other strategies to achieve the single most important objective of getting your email opened. But there is one strategy I have found that is incredibly effective and infallible: send that email again.

But wait. Before you abuse your subscribers let me explain what I have done that increases open rates without irritating your email recipients. And how you can know this is working.

My client lists range from the passionately engaged who open at an average rate of 45% to the “I-didn’t-know-I-signed-up” crowd, with an open rate of 15%, who coughed up their email address to access the business’ free wifi. In all cases, I’ve been able to increase open rates by as much as 50%.

My email tool of choice is MailChimp. One of the features provided is the option to create segments of your email list. That is, a segment is some portion of your list that meets certain criteria. And the criteria that I select is “Campaign Activity = Did not open [the last email]. In MailChimp it looks like this:

So now you have your list. Take these few additional steps to be respectful to your subscribers as well as to be effective:

  1. Change your subject line.
    Your new subject line is a tacit acknowledgement that this is a redo. It also provides you the opportunity to attract subscribers who didn’t find your first subject line particularly sexy. I usually go with something like “Reminder: xxxx.” For the people who may see both your emails in their queue it just appears as a friendly re-notification. For most, it is the first time they’re seeing your email.
  2. Send at least 2 days after your first email
    Think about your own email nemesis and how you fall behind in getting to less pressing email. But there is a half-life to email opening. My experience is that after about 2 days (your own results can be observed to tune this timing) you can safely assume that very few people will open your original email.
  3. Change the time of day
    Did your first email go out at 8AM? Did you send it on Tuesday because everyone says that’s the hot day for sending email to get the best open? Send the second email Friday night or a weekend morning or some time that is different from the first email. Again, you might test different times to determine your best second-send time
  4. Measure
    The two most important metrics for evaluating the effectiveness are open rate and unsubscribes. You WILL increase the open rate. My experience that your new open rate will be about ½ of the original. I’d be interested to know what you experience.

But the real measure of effectiveness is unsubscribes. Unsubscribes are not always bad. That’s a topic for another time. But for many reasons you don’t want people on your list who don’t want to hear what you have to say.  But, if you consistently get a lot (you decide what a lot is) of people unsubscribing to your second email, you’re probably irritating your subscribers.  This has not been my experience. But your results may differ and you should be alert to this possibility.Rinse and Repeat
Do it again. If your message is not time-dependent or if you have given yourself enough lead time, you can continue to send to non-openers a third or even a fourth time. You will realize diminishing returns but you will get some new opens each time. Manage your list
The hard truth is that you probably have subscribers who do not open and never will open your email. Only you can decide it if it worthwhile deceiving yourself or others about how huge your subscriber base has become. Chronic non-openers will also give you a more pessimistic view of your open rate and other engagement metrics. Ridding your list of these inactive subscribers may help you better understand what your engaged subscribers truly like about your email sends.

I welcome your opinion about this strategy as well as sharing experiences you may have had re-sending campaigns to your subscribers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *