Email Open Rates – Are They Really That Important?

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Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your business, but there is a catch… 

If you want your emails to work then people have to be reading them. An unopened, unread email is no use to anyone. So how can you tell if they are reading them? Open rates. 

Any good email marketer or email marketing software will allow you to track open rates and click-through rates. But how do you know what a good open rate really is? 

Keep reading to find out… 

Industry Benchmarks Are Only So Much Use

If you’re new to email marketing then industry benchmarks are a good place to start, but they can only tell you so much. 

You see, every business is unique and every email list different. Industry benchmarks are quite broad, for example, the category “Wellness & Fitness” includes everything from massage therapists to protein shakes. Are the open rates likely to be the same for a masseuse as they are a gym or a health food store? Not likely. 

Then you’ve got list quality. I’ve spoken in-depth in my previous blog about the importance of using a homegrown list – not buying data or spamming people who don’t want to hear from you. 

But not everyone follows best practice. 

If some businesses in your industry are sending emails to cold lists, scraped data or purchased email addresses then that’s going to drag the average open rates down. 

So are industry benchmarks any use at all? Yes. But only a little. 

You can use industry benchmarks to give you an idea of whether you’re way off the mark. 

For example, the industry average open rate for the “Wellness & Fitness” industry is 21%. If you’re only getting 10% then you know you’ve got some improvements to make – and if you’re getting 40% then you can make a good assumption that you’re killing it. 

A Better Solution?

So if industry benchmarks aren’t the answer, how can you measure and compare your open rates? How can you know if you’re doing well or wasting your efforts? 

The simplest solution is to create your own benchmarks. Always aim for a better open rate than your average -and ideally better than your last campaign. 

If you’ve been sending emails for a little while then you’ll be able to calculate your own average open rate – just add up the open rates for the last 10 emails and then divide the answer by 10. This will give you your average open rate. 

With every email you send, you want to be meeting your personal average and ideally beating your previous open rate. If you got 22% on your last email, you need 22.5% or higher on the next one. If your personal average is 25% and your latest email only hit 19% then you know you need to do something different next time. 

How To Increase Your Open Rates

There are several things that will influence your open rates significantly, including the quality of your list and the quality of the previous emails you’ve sent out – if you’ve sent super salesy, boring content you’re going to have to work a little harder to re-engage your subscribers. 

But there are some simple things you can do to increase your open rates fast. 

1. Write really good subject lines

Your subject line is the single biggest thing that will influence your open rates. If your subject lines suck then you won’t get many opens and your list will soon lose interest. To learn how to write subject lines that get opened check out my previous blog post here… 

2. Go personal

One of the most common mistakes people make is they send their emails from their company name, not their own name. For example, the “from” section shows “ABC Coaching” rather than “Susan Smith”. Email marketing is all about building relationships with your prospects: depersonalising your emails will only make this harder. 

3. Right time, right place

The day and time you send your emails can have an impact on your open rates too. Landing in a busy business owners inbox at 9am on a Monday morning isn’t going to work too well for you! You’ll get archived without a second thought. Some of this is going to be trial and error – test a few different send days and times to see what works best for your list. 

What If It Doesn’t Work?

Email marketing offers a reliable, affordable and effective way to grow your business – but you do have to do it right. 

If you’re doing all the right things but not getting results, it could be time to call in the experts. We’ll help you to improve your open rates and start generating some serious results. 

Book a call today to see how we can help… 

Nathan Littleton

Nathan Littleton

Nathan Littleton is a marketer, professional speaker and author who specialises in helping businesses to grow by attracting and winning more customers. Each year he sends more than a million emails on behalf of his clients, and his proven track record has led to him working with leading brands including Microsoft, Virgin Care and the BBC.

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