Five tips to boost open rates of your email newsletter
An email newsletter is a great way to communicate with your customers. But making sure it stands out in a crowded inbox, and then inspires your customers enough to open it, that’s a whole different ball game.
Here are five pointers that will help you increase those open rates.
Keep the subject line short and to the point
This is a key part of your email newsletter. With over-crowded inboxes commonplace, the aim is to make sure your email grabs attention. First of all, consider the character count: aim for approximately 72 characters (with spaces) as this will fit into most mail clients’ subject line ‘window’ without getting cut off. Use your subject line to give people a sneak peak into what’s in your email newsletter. Include short snippets of the most interesting articles to prompt them to open.
Don’t use ALL CAPS or exclamation !!! points in a subject line as this can give your mail a “spammy” look. Also avoid using the word “free” where possible. You also need to make sure there are no misspellings or errors in your subject line; this can make you appear unprofessional.
Take the time to experiment with subject lines. Consider segmenting your database, sending your email newsletter with different subject lines to different groups of customers. Analytics will show you which subject lines deliver higher open rates.
Personalise the ‘from’ field
An often over-looked element, the “From” field is critically important. With some people getting hundreds of emails every day, they are less likely to open a mail from an unknown sender. If your managing director or CEO is a well-known name to your customers, it’s a good idea to send it from him or her. If your customers are used to dealing directly with a specific account manager, consider segmenting your email database, sending each customer the email newsletter from their relevant account manager.
At ENNclick we segmented a client’s newsletter mailing list, sending from the in-company contact with that person or a generic sender. This resulted in open rates ranging from as low as 18% to a high of 36%. It’s clearly an area worthy of attention.
Again, testing this theory is an important part of getting it right. Try out different senders each time you send out the newsletter and see which works best. It might take a while to get it to the point where the open rates are consistent, but it’s worthwhile persevering.
Deliver interesting content
Of course, tinkering around with subject lines and the ‘From’ field is all well and good, but to make sure people open and read your email newsletter, it needs to be packed with good content. We’ve covered the topic of email newsletter content before but it’s worth re-iterating that your open rates will be intrinsically linked to your content. You need to make your newsletter interesting and something your customers come to consider as worthy of their attention.
Avoid a ‘hard sell’, focus instead on advisory-type pieces, interviews with leading industry figures and customer case studies. Mix it up a bit. Include video interviews or video case studies, infographics and even podcasts.
Encourage feedback from readers asking them what topics they would like to see covered in the newsletter. Bringing your readers into the content development process will make them feel involved in your newsletter and could lead to a boost in open rates. Along with reader feedback, analytics are going to be your new BFF when developing content for your email newsletter. After each send out, assess which items are proving most popular – you might be surprised by the results!
Simplify the design, make use of images
We know that the look and feel of a website is important, so much research through the years has told us so. Equally, how your newsletter looks can have an impact on open rates. Much like web design, less is definitely more. Keep your newsletter clean and uncluttered. Make sure the layout is intuitive and navigating between pieces of content is straightforward. Extend your company branding into your newsletter, making sure the look and feel is consistent with your website and your other marketing collateral.
Images are a useful tool to illustrate your articles and features. Make sure you don’t use images to just fill the space. Interesting images can tell a story too – and can raise the look of your e-newsletter. Invest a little bit of time into choosing the right images, trying where possible to select relevant, professional-looking photos.
Experiment to find the best time
The truth is, no-one really knows when it’s consistently best to send out an email newsletter. Of course, there are less-than-ideal days and times to send out an e-newsletter: Friday afternoon and early Monday morning for example, but ultimately, getting it right will take… yeah, you guessed it, trial and error.
Popular wisdom suggests mid-week and morning sendouts deliver better results, so start your experiment there. With each issue of your newsletter assess the open rates and compare them to the days and times it was sent out. This should give you a good idea of when your readers are more likely to take time out to read your newsletter.
While there is no hard and fast rule here, with thorough testing and analysis you should be able to eliminate certain days and times, and isolate what delivers the best results for your company newsletter.
Remember: average open rates for email newsletters stand around the 20 percent mark in 2011/2012, fluctuating slightly depending on the industry sector. So to maximise the potential of your newsletter, you will also need to work on building the database of customers and potential customers who sign up to receive your e-newsletter. In an upcoming blog we’ll look at some ideas for boosting your email database.
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