One area of marketing I often get asked about, is how to improve email marketing / newsletter open rates. So, I thought I’d share eleven of the most common reasons why emails remain unopened.
In no particular order:
- The recipient of your email uses Gmail. Why? Because Gmail dumps valid emails into the recipient’s promotions folder. This means they get no notification when your emails arrive. As such, open rates plummet. I know from personal experience that my Gmail subscribers miss over 90% of my emails, unless they’ve added my blog to their Gmail contacts list. This happens, even though they used gmail to double opt-in to receive my stuff.
- The email subject line didn’t motivate the recipient to open it. Getting this right is trickier than it sounds. That’s because many of the words used to inspire people to open an email, are also triggers for spam filters.
- You sent the email at the wrong time of day or on the wrong day. This can have a huge impact. Despite what some people say, there’s no universally ideal day or perfect time to optimize email open rates. For example, different timing is required for when you target consumers, compared to when you target businesses. Different times also work better for different industries. For example, hotels work completely different hours than accountants. They also have totally different peak times, when they’re unavailable to check email and are least likely to see your message. One time doesn’t work for all. Test and measure until you find your email open rate sweet-spot.
- The recipient’s email address is on a list you bought, so they have no idea who you are. And the people on these ‘sold lists’ get bombarded with tons of marketing emails, from all the others who bought their email address. This means they’re far more likely to have very, very aggressive email filters.
- Your list is out of date, with lots of addresses that no longer exist or are no longer monitored. Non existent email addresses will register as ‘bounces’, and are easily cleaned with email marketing software. Unmonitored addresses (for example when someone’s left a company) will still be able to receive emails, so they don’t bounce. Depending on the software you use, you can either set things up so addresses are deleted after ‘X’ number go unopened (as I do), or remove unresponsive addresses.
- The content of a previous email didn’t engage the reader, so they were less inclined to open subsequent emails. Remember: You never have ‘a list’. You need to earn and re-earn their permission. So stay useful.
- You send marketing emails direct from your desktop software, rather than use a trusted email marketing provider (mailchimp, aweber, constant contact, etc). If you send large numbers of the same email from your own IP address, you can become blacklisted. When that happens, your emails won’t even reach the recipient’s spam folder.
Tip: You can check if your IP address is blocked, using Spamhaus. Simply paste the URL you email from into the box. For example, for my newsletter I pasted https://jimsmarketingblog.com. Spamhause is free to use and extremely reliable.
- The email content (or body) contained certain words, which trigger email filters, so the email is wrongly identified as spam or junk. These range from swear words to words and phrases often used by spammers. Go easy on pushy calls-to-action.
- The email contained too many links or images. These are also common spam filter triggers.
- You included an email attachment. Attachments are major sources of malware, so are often blocked.
- You built your list by offering a freebie in return for their email address. People seldom use their primary email addresses for give-aways.
Email is a spectacularly powerful marketing tool. And sometimes just a few improvements can lead to dramatically better results.