A question I get asked in most MailChimp training classes is how open rates may be improved. The good news is that a few small changes can have a very positive impact on your open rates.
What are email marketing open rates
Firstly we need to understand what an open rate measures. Quite simply an email marketing open rate shows the number, or proportion, of people that open an email message. Even although a recipient may open a campaign multiple times, the open rate is only concerned whether a recipient opened the email or not.
The only way that MailChimp (and other email senders) know if a recipient has opened a campaign is if the receivers email system opens a tiny image that MailChimp embeds in every campaign. MailChimp don’t know however if the receiving system is set to block the opening of images. The open rate therefore isn’t accurate.
In MailChimp classes my advice to attendees is to focus not on the absolute number or proportion of opens but rather whether open rates for campaigns are improving or getting worse.
How to increase your open rates
To improve the conversion rates of our email campaigns we need our contacts to be opening our messages. The objective for open rates is therefore to have the proportion of opens to keep increasing. There will be a time when you can’t improve the open rates further and then maintaining your open rates will be of primary concern.
Below are five tips that are sure to improve your email marketing open rates.
1. Authenticate your domain
It stands to reason that if subscribers aren’t receiving your email campaign then they won’t be opening your message. Adding relevant SPF and DKIM records to your domain is likely to increase the proportion of subscribers that receive your message (i.e. deliverability will improve). Without adding the necessary SPF and DKIM records to your domain there is a chance that the receiving email server will automatically send your message to spam.
To authenticate your domain then follow these instructions.
2. Segment your list
Targeting your email campaigns to interested segments of your list will increase your open and click rates. For example, I mostly hold MailChimp training in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. If I were to send a campaign notifying subscribers in Brisbane every time I was holding training in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, then very soon my Brisbane subscribers will unsubscribe due to the vast number of campaigns of no interest to them that they would receive.
Sending relevant and targeted information to the right subscribers is definitely best practice.
3. Have an enticing and personalised subject line
Your subject line should be relevant to the content in the body of your campaign in addition to promoting the benefit of the recipient reading your campaign. There is a massive amount of information available as to the best way to structure subject lines but ultimately it all boils down to three factors:
- Keep it short-ish (no more than eight words).
- Promote the benefit of reading the message body.
- Include the recipients name in the subject line (caveat: it may not always be appropriate to include a first name in the subject line however research suggests this increases open rates).
I often work with organisations that send monthly newsletters and their subject lines are often something like July 2017 Newsletter. The subject line is short but doesn’t advise the reader why they should open and read the campaign. If the main article of the newsletter were about asking for more donations to support wildlife rescue then a subject line of Jane, see how your help has helped make a difference! would be far better.
4. Subscriber quality affects your MailChimp stats
Subscriber quality is about how likely a contact is to meet our organisational objectives which may be increased sales, more donations or any other SMART objective.
Most people want more subscribers. The social media world has communicated that larger numbers matter. But this focus on contact numbers very seldom translates into meeting organisational objectives when it comes to email marketing. If you really want lots of subscribers then hold a giveaway. Be warned however that people that give their email to you for a giveaway are unlikely to convert into paying customers or donors.
Focus on having contacts in your list that are most likely to convert into a sale or repeat sale (or donation). Having subscribers in our list that aren’t engaged won’t add value to your organisation.
5. Remove inactive subscribers
Sometimes you may be doing all you can to get high open rates however your stats just don’t show improvement. This is often because there is a proportion of your list that aren’t opening any of your campaigns. This may be because your campaigns are going automatically to the recipients spam folder, the contacts email address has changed or many other reasons.
By removing all contacts with a one star contact rating (also called member rating) we can eliminate inactive subscribers that aren’t opening our campaigns. Before deleting or unsubscribing all one star contacts it is worth sending a re-engagement campaign.
Try the five recommendations above; your email campaign open rates will improve quickly.