First Impressions Matter: 5 Tips to Improve Your Open Rate Daniel Randa September 5, 2012 Best Practices // SUMMARIES ?> Let’s talk about open rates. They’re up! They’re down! They don’t matter! Senders are obsessed with open rates for a very simple reason: emails that are not opened do not get clicks or conversions. We don’t want to overstate the importance of the open rate but we challenge you to find a successful email program that doesn’t maintain a consistently high open rate. So, let’s go back to basics and talk about ways to boost a sagging open rate. Start at the beginning. If your open rates are in decline you’re probably struggling in other areas as well so go back to the beginning and review your sign-up process. Is the process simple? Or do you require a lot of “extra” information? Do you start things right with an instant welcome message? Or do you just blast off a generic weekly or monthly message regardless of where the subscriber is in their lifecycle? A simple transparent sign-up process topped off with an immediate welcome message is the way to start your email relationship right. Make a good first impression. You never a get a second chance to make a first impression and how your message appears the inbox is that first impression. Make sure you have a “friendly from” so the recipient can immediately identify your business as the sender. So make sure it’s not “customer service” or even worse firstname.lastname@example.org or “e-commerce”. On the topic of subject lines, don’t try too hard to be clever, if it works for your brand, go for it otherwise just keep it simple and descriptive. Be on time. In email as in life, timing is everything. The timing of your email from how often to the actual day and time can have a significant impact on your open rate. Many subscribers will ignore too many emails sent too frequently while good offers sent on a consistent and reliable schedule are more likely to garner results. But how do you know the best day or optimal frequency for your campaigns? There is no right answer, so we recommend implementing a testing plan where you regularly test key aspects of your program especially day, time and frequency. Keep it clean. Nothing drags your overall open rate down like a growing segment of inactive users. Keep your list clean by immediately removing “hard” bounces and dealing with “soft” bounces – it will help your deliverability and your open rate. Be relevant. This is kind of a “duh” – everyone knows this, right? Probably but are they doing anything about it? In a perfect world each and every subscriber would receive a highly personalized message with special offers tailored to their preferences. While we all aspire to this it may not be possible so why not start sending messages that are not irrelevant. For example, there is nothing more irrelevant that an offer for a product you already own so segment customers from non-customers and treat them accordingly. Small steps like this can go a long way towards boosting your overall email program performance, starting with your open rate.