Marketing automation has made email marketing easier and put it well within the reach of small businesses. The impressive ROI of email marketing makes it very attractive for small businesses.

However, as a manager at or the owner of a small business, you know the first challenge lies in getting your subscribers to open your emails. Unless they open your emails nothing can happen.

Email open rates are one of the most important KPIs for marketers. Here are 9 tips to boost your open rates and achieve great results:

1. Send the perfect number of emails

Sending too many emails can irritate your subscribers while sending too few emails may make your subscribers forget you. So what’s the right number of emails you should send?

There’s no one answer, and even within an industry, there are some variations. So you’ll have to experiment a little and discover the answer yourself.  

Keep this in mind:

  • Once you’ve found how often you should send out emails, stick to that number. Regularity pays.
  • Be driven by data when it comes to deciding the frequency: look at the open rates against various factors (time of the day, weekday vs weekend, unsubscribes, complaints etc) to decide what frequency of sending emails would work best.
  • Finally, check your resources available to know how many quality emails you can produce every month.

2. Scrub your email list regularly

An average 21% email addresses turn invalid every year. If you send emails to invalid addresses, they will bounce back. Multiple bounce backs make you look like you’re a spammer. 

The result? The email server could purposefully place some of your emails in the spam folder of the recipients. And you know emails in the spam folder are never opened… Good bye, open rates! 

Here’s a few safety tips:

  • Avoid using purchased lists. They are often filled with invalid, dead or even fake email addresses. Grow your own list instead. 
  • Use a reliable bulk email checker to regularly clean your mailing list and remove the undeliverable emails from your list.
  • Keep improving on your list collection methods. 

3. Segment your email list

Segmenting your email list improves open and clickthrough rates, and outperforms generic emails. 

The more targeted your email is, the more likely your subscribers are to engage further.

Here’s some tips to get started:

  • Segment by demographic data or interest as it helps to make actionable decisions about your email marketing and tailor your content based on that.
  • While segmenting existing customers, you can also segment them on the basis of the average value of their purchase. Then frame your emails so that each segment finds your emails relatable and valuable. That way, they’ll be happy to open your emails in future too.

4. Master the subject line 

Remember, the most important purpose of the subject line of your email is to open the email.  That’s why your subject line should be able to rouse curiosity, accurate and short. 

Here’s a few tips on how you can craft better subject lines:

  • Tickle your subscribers’ curiosity by hinting at what the email contains. But don’t tell everything.
  • See if you can include the pain point of your subscribers in the subject line.
  • Try using the prospect’s name in the subject line.

5. Identify your time-frames

When sending out emails to different time zones, you want to be sure you reach the subscribers’ inbox at their best times.

Follow the below tips:

  • Figure out the best times to send, by performing A/B tests.
  • Your timeframe could also depend on what kind of products you sell and whether you’re B2B or B2C. For example, B2C emails may do better on weekends or evenings, while B2B emails may perform better during weekdays.

6. Write great email content

No matter how great your email content is, they will read it only after the email is opened, right? So how can great content improve open rates?

Among the several answers, here’s one. Let’s say Garry never opens your email. Today, by a slip of thumb, he clicked open your email on his smartphone. And that’s your small window where your great content can grab his attention and convert him into a regular reader of your email.

Sending out an email that’s drafted in a hurry or not well written is one of the most common email marketing mistakes.  Sure, writing great email content is hard work – but we never said it isn’t, right?

Simple tips to make your emails awesome:

  •  Keep your subscriber’s intent in mind. What would they like to know about?
  • Write in a conversational tone. Be friendly without being disrespectful.
  • Use humour carefully. Humour is understood only contextually and what is humour in one culture can fall flat elsewhere (or be considered inappropriate). 
  • Why not use the email writing tips out there on the internet? Or maybe take a course? You’ll find some great free as well as paid courses if you dig around a little.
  • Experiment with ending the email with questions. Asking questions has been found to improve your engagement.
  • Be very mindful of grammar and spelling.
  • Personalize the email as much as possible.

7. Ask when someone unsubscribes

People unsubscribe from your email list when they don’t get value from your emails.

Here are a few tips:

  • Many email sending services, aka Email Service Providers (ESPs), offer the option to ask questions to people who request to unsubscribe. Use that.
  • When you ask why they’re leaving, keep the questions short. Someone who’s made up their mind to unsubscribe is never in the mood to write long explanations. List out likely reasons they’re leaving and ask them to select the one that’s applicable.
  • You may also add a line like: “Hit Unsubscribe by mistake? No problem, welcome back!” Don’t unsubscribe people if they didn’t mean to leave you.

Summing up

Getting your subscribers to open your emails is the first major challenge all email marketers must overcome if they wish their campaign to be successful.

This post showed how sending the perfect number of emails, scrubbing your mailing list, segmenting your list, mastering the subject line, identifying the correct time to send emails, improving your email content and even understanding the reason people unsubscribe can hugely and positively impact your email open rates. 

We’re sure you’ll want to put these tips into practice.