Beyond the Subject Line: Factors that Affect Your Email Open Rates

Our clients frequently ask us how they can improve their email marketing open rates. Most raise the issue by asking for help with subject lines. Write a better subject line, and more people will open the emails, they reason.

open-ratesNo doubt, subject lines matter, but there are many other factors that affect open rates that also deserve marketers’ attention. Here are a few…

Deliver Quality Content 

If you deliver informative, interesting, entertaining content in your emails, your subscribers will want to open them. Send boring, irrelevant emails and your open rates will decrease.

Segment Your Lists

Many email marketers send everything to everybody in their lists, regardless of recipients’ profiles and interests. Dog lovers don’t want your emails about cat accessories. People in New York don’t want to hear about your event in San Francisco. Segment your list so you can send more relevant content to targeted audiences. Your open rates will improve.

Improve Your Preheaders

A preheader is the first set of text in your email — the part that your recipients’ email applications will display as a one- or two-line preview in the inbox, following the subject line. Preheaders frequently say something like “View this email in a browser.” That doesn’t inspire someone to open your email. Try adding compelling text before the “view in browser” message – something that expands on your subject line and inspires readers to open the email.

Practice Permission Marketing

Send email marketing campaigns to people who have given you permission to contact them. If you send unsolicited commercial emails, spam filters will begin to block your emails or put them in the “spam” folder. Your open rates will plummet.

Avoid “Spammy” Content

Filters scan your content for certain words or design practices commonly used by spammers. Even if you’ve followed permission-marketing best-practices, your email may hit the spam folder if you use “spammy” words, use ALL CAPS or send image-only emails (spammers used this practice so filters couldn’t read the offending words in their emails). Google “words that trigger spam filters” for more guidance.

Deliver Your Emails at the Right Time

This is tricky because optimal delivery times vary by industry and audience, and studies about best delivery times often conflict. Split your list in two and test different delivery times. With some testing and patience, you’ll discover delivery times that work best for your list.





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