Average Email Open Rates in 2017 and How to Beat Them

Though communication channels like live chat and social media are growing, email is still the staple mode of contact between digital businesses and their customers.Email marketing is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter at generating a sale. Emails are non-intrusive, convenient, and available on the devices we use every day.Because email marketing is so established, your customers will not only be receiving emails from you but from countless other brands. The average office-worker receives around 121 emails per day. This means you need to compete for recognition.In 2017, the percentage of marketing emails that get opened hangs at an average of 24.7%. That’s an alarming degree of output going unrecognized. You need to know what makes the subscribers on your mailing list tick, to get higher open rates and higher returns. With a good understanding of your target audience, that average open-rate is easy to beat. But how?Here, we give you a helping hand.Gain an understanding of what works and doesn?t so you can build the right campaign for you and your customer. Stop aiming for the average and strive for the best.You may already be getting great results with your emails. You have a good understanding of your customers and are providing them with valuable content that they can trust. Your open rate is okay.But raising your open rate is not only a matter of boosting email key performance indicators (KPIs). It could give your profits a significant push in the right direction. According to Mike Dane of TruConversion, following email marketing best practices can result in up to a 20% increase. Let’s say your emails reach 10,000 subscribers? inboxes. Even if you have a low conversion rate (the portion of subscribers that end up making a purchase) of 2%, you could bring in around 40 extra sales per email campaign.If your open rate is lower than the average, there could be multiple reasons. If you are not following standard practices, your emails might be ending up in the junk folder; maybe your images are not optimized for mobile and are taking too long to load, or your subject lines are putting off potential customers. Yet, if you do not have a set of guidelines to follow, open rate optimization can be daunting.In this article, we explain how to get those open rates to skyrocket. Strengthen your relationship with your customers as well as your clicks, visits, and sales.

Your Open Rate

If you don?t already know your average open rate, you should. All email service providers (ESPs), including DirectIQ, display your open rates by default for each campaign. But to understand what an open rate is, it may be handy to take a look at how we work it out.It’s simple: your open rate is the percentage of emails you send that get opened, minus any emails that bounced (never made it to the subscriber’s inbox). If you need the math, it’s…Number of Individual Email-Opens / (Number of Emails Sent – Bounces)It is crucial to eliminate those bounces to find the portion of your emails opened that actually reach subscribers? inboxes. Around 10-25% of your emails can be expected to bounce, depending on your industry. But if you have failed to avoid the spam filters this could be a lot higher, throwing your calculations way off. Check your open rate regularly to develop a better understanding of the effectiveness of your campaigns.

How to Improve Your Open Rate

There is no single strategy to open rate. Your open rate is specific to your industry and your business. And this is how you should look at it.You don?t only want to know how your average open rate compares to the rest of the industry. Also, find out when it has been particularly low and ask ?why?? It’s no good optimizing other elements if you fail to fix what you were getting wrong in the first place.As with all optimization, crunch the numbers. Look at the outliers. Which email campaigns got a particularly high percentage of opens? Which emails did subscribers open the least and why? This will make the process of improving your rate more efficient and more intuitive.Do another sweep of your old campaigns. Understand past data first and you will be in a position to get better open rates for your site in the future.

Remove Unwanted Subscribers

delete button f(Source: provocateur.media)We all do it?we subscribe to email lists and spend the next few months deleting the messages we receive.Perhaps you accidentally signed up to a mailing list while buying a present for someone else. Or maybe the products just don?t fit with your lifestyle anymore. If you swapped out your iPhone for something else, you won?t buy a new case, regardless of how much you love the design.These are just some of many reasons people give for unsubscribing to mailing lists. The problem is?people often don?t have the time. It is faster and easier to swipe an email into the trash or junk than *open*, *click*, *click*, and *confirm* to scrub your name from the list.If you are sending emails to customers who never open them, you are getting unreliable data. You will have a better idea understanding of your numbers and your customers if your data concerns emails sent to customers that are actually reachable. You need to filter out those inactive subscribers.Weed out inactive subscribers after about 4-6 months. At this point, you should still be aiming for retention. But you also want to warn your absent reader that you will stop contacting them if they fail to respond.Don?t give up on them too soon. Send them a win-back email with an amazing value proposition to hook them back in (for example, a free gift or a discount). Be honest?make it clear you want them back with a ?Stay in Touch? call-to-action that offers them something in return. You can touch base with your infrequent customers at the same time as freshening up your list.If your emails to a subscriber bounce, of course, don?t wait. After a few failed attempts to push an email through to an address, delete the address from your list, or put it on a reserve list for further retention. The more bounces you get from a particular ESP, the more likely it is their spam filters will send your emails to the junk. This is not good for business.Keep your mailing lists fresh and watch your open rate reach its true potential.

Segment Your Email List

email list segmentation(Source: essenceofemail.com)Tailoring the emails you send to particular segments of your audience can do wonders for your opens. A 14.31% rise in open rates is up for grabs to businesses using segmentation?a massive improvement.There are various ways that you can segment your mailing list, depending on your particular subscription process. At its most basic, segmentation involves asking for information about your customers when they subscribe and using this data to sort them into smaller groups. You can then send emails that relate to the particular kind of customer they are, to target them more effectively.An upfront and honest ?what do you want to hear about?? option can work for getting initial data. The subscriber chooses the topics you contact them about. This method is particularly well used by media providers such as Netflix and Spotify. It can allow you to build customer profiles using data on factors that are otherwise subjective and difficult to estimate.You can even go the full data-driven route?don?t ask your customers what they want, just give it to them. Crunch the numbers and sort your subscribers according to their buying habits, reading habits, the pages they visit?any information you have that will help you to target different types of customer according to their specific wants and needs.Don?t forget to separate new and long-term subscribers: you can send initial information to the newbies for the first few weeks of subscription. You’ll also avoid telling your old customers what they already know and ticking them off.Send emails that speak to who your customers are.

Perfect Your Subject Lines

email subject(Source: everbrave.ca)If you think your emails are going to the right people but not getting opened, check the first thing you see: your subject line. A huge 69% of email recipients report opening emails based on subject line alone. So if your subject lines are failing to entice or inform, you may need to go back to the drawing board.Be sure that your email gets opened by using tried and tested, eye-catching subject lines. Establish a good base open rate using winning formulas; later you can try out your own ideas and compare them to evaluate their feasibility.Use subject lines that tickle your subscribers? curiosity for promotional campaigns. Lines like ?you’ll never guess where I am…? and ?we just did something crazy? pique the reader’s interest, leave them wondering, and draw them in. Use them sparingly; no one wants their inbox to look like a list of riddles. But these are perfect for those value-adding campaigns that offer your customers something special.Your go-to subject lines for regular mail should be less ?look at me?. Don?t be afraid to be direct and tell the customer exactly what they are getting. If you have segmented well, the content you are sending is already hyper-relevant.You don?t need to be persuaded to read an email tailored to you; you just need to know what it is. Examples of this type of subject line include ?Grow Your Startup? and ?Our New Holiday Collection.? These are simple, yes, but authoritative. You are telling customers you are a no-nonsense brand by sending honest and relevant emails that add value.Still running out of ideas? We’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the best subject line templates to use. It includes some of the more established formulas such as ?___ is what you need? and ?Get ____ now!? as well as some more contemporary techniques?Learn about linking your subject line to time and place, access conditional templates proven to work for personalized campaigns, and find out the top keywords to generate opens.To get you started, here’s our top ten from this year:

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    2. ?Myths About ___ (That Just Aren?t True!) ?

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    1. ?X Proven Tips To ___?

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    1. ?X Habits Of Successful/a Successful ___?

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    1. ?How To ___ Without ___?

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    1. ?The Simple Solution To ___?

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    1. ?Supercharge Your ___?

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    1. ?Don?t Let ___ Get You Down?

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    1. ?X Easy Ways To ___?

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    1. ?___ Everyone Needs To Know?

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  1. ?How To ___ In X Simple Steps?

And whatever subject line you do use, follow the law. The 2003 CAN-SPAM act prohibits misleading your customers. Mystery and intrigue are great; but never fool your customers. As an example, you may think it a good marketing idea to use the subject line ?We Are Giving Everything for Free.? You could then offer a button the customer can click to receive a free sticker that says??EVERYTHING.? This could easily be seen as misleading. Though these kind of tactics certainly go on, they will get you a hefty fine if prosecuted. More importantly, It feels untrustworthy. And you want to be a responsible brand with a reputation for high standards.You don?t need to reinvent the wheel. Use subject lines that you can be sure will tempt your reader to click *open*.

Optimize for Mobile

pexels photo(source: pexels.com)With 51% of emails now opened on mobile devices, it is more important than ever to make it easy and convenient for users to view them on their phones. But 26% of users say the biggest turn off for email is lack of mobile optimization. So many marketing optimization tactics involve patiently waiting for data, that making your emails compatible with mobile devices is a comparatively quick fix.High-resolution images provide your customer with exquisite aesthetics. But in practice, if your images are too high definition (HD), they will take too long to load on mobile devices. With the average user spending only 11.1 seconds reading a single email, this is time you cannot afford to lose.Standard resolution for web and email images is 72 PPI (Pixels Per Inch). This should be sufficient for images to load quickly without losing picture quality. Responsive emails are your best bet, where operating systems load images with the optimum resolution for their device. These can be tricky to get right if you are not an expert, so stick with the standard resolutions if you are unsure about responsive design. You can find further info on standard image resolutions and sizing here.Technical issues are to be expected when loading HTML. But even your subject lines can cause problems when they reach a mobile device. Long subject lines will either fail to show fully or appear untidy and unprofessional. If your audience is particularly mobile, try to keep your subject lines as concise as possible. If you are hitting over 70 characters then you probably want to reword.Whatever you change in your email marketing templates, be sure to check how they will appear on mobile. You can generate previews for this using most popular ESPs. DirectIQ can show you a mockup in an instant. But be sure to send versions to yourself and your team to check that they work on real devices before going live with any campaign.Your customers are mobile. Your relationship should be too.

Avoid the Spam Filters

?Spam alert!??None of your efforts to increase your open rate will have any impact if your mail is going to the junk folder. Most people never check their spam and each email provider has a different set of filters to decide what gets put in there. This means you may not even be aware that this is going on until you check.Below, we provide a list of best practices to help you avoid getting emails marked as spam.General Practices

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  • Email someone only when you have express permission
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  • Use a reputable email provider (click here to explore DirectIQ)

<From> and <to> Fields

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    • Always use recognizable <from> fields (usually your company or your name)

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  • Keep your <from> and <to> fields short?no longer than 35 characters

Subject Lines

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    • Don?t use all-caps

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    • Don?t use excessive punctuation

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  • Don?t use lengthy subject lines

Content

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    • Offer an unsubscribe link with every email

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    • Include your physical business address

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  • Use proper grammar

And finally, use a reputable spam checker to make certain your content doesn?t get marked as junk. DirectIQ has a great tool built in, called Spam Doctor, that will check your copy for you for the spam flags you may have missed. Some of the triggers that catch marketing emails out are quite complex. For example, you wouldn?t expect common trigger words like ?amazing? and ?profit? to get your email flagged. But they can. Use a dedicated spam tool to ensure the highest percentage of your emails are dropping into inboxes.All your optimization efforts will have been in vain if you get caught out. Check, check, and check again so spam filters aren?t pushing you out of the email marketing game.

Moving Forward

With these techniques and a good understanding of your data, your brand, and your customers, the average open rates for 2017 are easy to top. But it is pointless to optimize the emails you send out if they are not providing your subscribers with informative and relevant content. If your emails are not right for subscribers, they won?t get opened?however much you follow the guidelines in this post. Spend time researching, collating, and creating the best content you can. Then optimize, optimize, and optimize some more using these proven techniques to make sure it gets read. You will establish a good grounding upon which to start getting better returns on your campaign investments as your business grows into the future.