Email is now such a prolific communication channel that email services such as Gmail and Outlook.com are now far stricter on unsolicited (spam) messages. To this end they use a measure called ‘sender reputation’ to determine what is or isn’t a spam email.
No-one ever checks their spam folder these days, so it’s crucial that your email activities do not negatively impact your sender reputation. In order to maintain it you must send emails that are opened and interacted with regularly. If you consistently send large volumes of emails that are not opened, your sender rating drops and you may be marked as a dreaded spammer.
Over the last eight months we’ve managed to increase our own open rate from around 25% to over 40% in some cases. The average UK B2C open rate is just 15-20% so this shows that our sender reputation is healthy and we have an engaged audience for emails.
In the interests of sharing, we’d like to divulge the tips we’ve been using so you can improve your own email open rates.
So how did we manage to do this?
Earlier this year we introduced a four-pronged approach to ensure our emails are only sent to relevant, engaged customers. Here’s a brief breakdown of what we’ve put in place:
1. Introduce a cut-off period
We only send to customers who have opened one or more email from us in the last 180 days. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, but if you send two emails a week, for example, this means they have not responded to your last 50 messages! Either the emails are going to the wrong person, or they are simply not interested, so remove them from your list.
2. Check whether ‘no open’ really means ‘no interest’
We don’t abruptly stop sending emails to none-openers after 180 days. Rather we send an email asking if they would like to stay on our sender list, with a reminder of some of the useful insight they will miss out on if they’re excluded. If the recipient engages with the email they stay subscribed and we continue to send them regular emails.
3. Select the perfect subject line
The email subject line is arguably the most important elements of ths whole tactic. It makes the difference between a delete or an open click. We use a tool to apply a score to our subject lines. There are a number of free ones available to use online and most will check for undesirable words that could set off spam filters.
4. Meet the recipient’s objectives
One tactic we’ve recently employed is a preference email, where we ask our customers to specify their main aims and objectives for their business. Based on their responses we are then able to tailor the content of the email so that it’s more relevant to their interests and they’re more likely to engage with it.
The clear takeaway here is that it’s far better to have a smaller, engaged list then a larger, speculative list. We used the above tactics to move from the latter to the former, and as a result our open rate has increased and – crucially – our sender reputation has improved.