How to increase open and click rates

Temptation is the secret of successful email marketing. If you want to increase your email engagement rates, you need to be as enticing as possible.

Think of your email as a gift – the contents have to be right, but so does the presentation. Tatty wrapping paper or a badly written label might put your recipient off opening the gift at all, no matter how wonderful the contents.

So what can you do to have your audience ripping off the wrapping and clicking through to your offering?

What does success look like?

Before you start making any changes to your marketing campaigns, it’s worth taking a step back and checking that you know what success looks like. How are you going to measure performance? Is there a benchmark for your industry that you can use?

As you likely know, email marketing can be challenging. A click-through rate of 10% is extremely good – depending on your industry, 1-2% might be more realistic.

Remember mobile users

Don’t forget, email looks different depending on the device where it is accessed. Mobile users may be nonplussed if you ask them to ‘click through’ to somewhere, as they’re likely to be using a touchscreen rather than a mouse.

How to improve open rates

It’s all in the subject line. If this doesn’t appeal to your audience, they’re likely to bin the email without a second thought.

There’s no one formula for a successful subject line because it depends on your audience. What sort of tone do they respond to? What subjects are they interested in? What words will have them sitting up and taking notice?

A/B testing is a great way to hone your subject line before sending a message to a large group. Simply send the same content with different subject lines and see which performs better. Take a little time to find out more about A/B testing so you can run tests in the most effective way. For example, do some messages work better at particular times of day? How could you test this?

If your open rate is underwhelming, it’s also a good idea to look again at segmentation. You need to know the characteristics of the people you are addressing so you can target messaging and information for them. Location, interests and activity will inform this. Showing you know who your audience is help to build trust – for example, you should take a different tone with loyal customers to those who have only interacted with you briefly.

You might also want to look at the frequency of your mailings. Too much mailing will have your audience hitting the unsubscribe button, too little will prevent your message from cutting through.

Top tips for subject lines…

  • Keep it short
  • Use emoji and symbols to stand out in the inbo
  • Tease the subject so readers click to find out more
  • Give a sense of urgency
  • Imply readers will miss out if they don’t click
  • Use a question format to increase engagement

How to improve click-through rates

Once you’ve lured your readers to open your email, how will you make sure they click through to the site?

Don’t assume your audience will plod through the whole of your email, from the first word to the last. It’s more likely that they will scan through to pick up the gist before deciding if it merits closer attention. Breaking up the copy and using headlines and pictures can help to tilt the balance in your favour.

The visuals also matter. Use email formatting to make your messaging attractive, avoiding overly long or wide paragraphs that could put readers off. Make sure the content works equally well on mobile devices and desktops, or you will lose a large proportion of your audience.

While including images can be powerful, remember that some email clients block images by default. In view of this, you should avoid including essential information in images as it will not be visible to some of the recipients.

When it comes to link embedding, avoid using generic phrases such as ‘click here’ as click-through text. Unless your readers are sure where the link goes and that it’s somewhere they want to go, they won’t click. It’s a good idea to include multiple links throughout the email, to increase the likelihood of someone clicking. The last thing you want is the reader having to hunt through text to find the link.

Your CTA (call to action) is also vital. This is the bit where you ask the reader to take action, most likely clicking through to your site. A good CTA sends a clear message about the benefit the reader will gain by acting. It should communicate urgency, value and minimise risk.

Top tips for click through…

  • Don’t use generic click-through text
  • Format emails carefully
  • Personalise content
  • Include multiple links
  • Make a compelling CTA

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