Email marketing continues to be a highly effective method of increasing sales and enhancing customer retention and loyalty rates. Yet with the average business owner receiving 122 emails per day, your emails have to truly stand out from the crowd in order to grab their attention.
If you’re disappointed by your current email response rates, or you’d like to improve your already great statistics, these five email marketing tips can help you improve your response rates over time.
Calculating Response Rates
Response rates are calculated by dividing the number of actions taken by customers (a click, a sale, a download) by the number of emails sent. Most email programs such as MailChimp, Constant Contact and Vertical Response automatically include these metrics and many others in their campaign reports.
What Is a Good Response Rate?
Although many business owners would love to know “What’s a good response rate?” the answer is always, “It depends.” That’s because response rates are a function of both quantity of emails sent, quantity of how many emails are read, quantity of how many links are clicked, and what customers do from there.
Think about it this way: would you like to achieve a response rate of 2 percent on your email? That sounds low, doesn’t it? However, if your response rates to 100 emails yield 2 opens, and those 2 opens both purchases $100 worth of products based on your email, that 2 percent just earned you $200 in sales.
If you said you’d like a higher response rate, consider a 10 percent response rate from those same 100 customers. If 10 people opened and clicked on a sales link and bought just $10 worth of products, then you’ve sold only $100 worth of products. Your response rate was high, but the overall value to your company of the higher response rate was lower.
Focusing solely on response rates, without seeing what your response rate achieves for your company, isn’t the best approach to email marketing. Yes, customers have to open and respond to your emails. But be sure that their response is meaningful to both your company and to your customers in order to achieve truly great results from your campaigns.
Five Tips to Boost Response Rates
You’ve polished your landing page or your offer page, and you’ve created a great opt-in (permission-based) email list to conform to all applicable laws. You’ve designed a template and are ready to send your emails. Get ready to improve your response rates by incorporating the following tips.
- Use domain-based emails: Make sure the “from” line is from an actual domain-based email address: Changes to Google’s Gmail and other email systems now flag email addresses from most free email providers as spam, and quarantine them in the spam folder or deny them outright. This means that if you’re sending email marketing messages from “firstname.lastname@example.org,” your message may never get to the recipient.
Invest in a domain-based email such as “email@example.com” You’ll improve both deliverability and response rate by making sure that more people actually receive your message. If you’re using a website builder, often a domain-based email will be included with your plan or at least offered at a discount. Otherwise, it’s usually still possible to set up a free business email through your site.
- Test subject lines: MailChimp, one of the leading providers of email marketing services, recommends a plain subject line that simply tells recipients what’s inside. They studied all of the messages sent through their system and discovered that subject lines constructed along the following formula achieved the best open rates: [COMPANY NAME] + Contents of the Email.
Customers apparently liked knowing what’s inside the email and who it’s from. By keeping the emails relevant and simple, companies made it easier for customers to decide if they wanted to open the emails or not. If you’d like to try a more creative subject line, test it against a simple control using this formula and see which one helps you achieve your objectives.
- Personalize the email: Personalization goes beyond the salutation field. Personalized emails include offers tailored to the wants, needs and desires of the customers on your email list. The more you can personalize the offer, the higher the response rate. To start personalizing your emails, ask customers a few simple questions when they opt into your list. For example, categorize their interests, then sent out a few customized newsletters based on their interests. If you can merge email and sales data, you can also use shopping patterns to determine potential customization groups.
- Emphasize benefits: Far too many companies make their emails all about them, and not about the customer. Think about what’s in it for the customer; what do they get from your message? Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them, or the benefits of an offer. The more you can emphasize benefits, the better.
- Test on mobile devices: Make sure you preview your emails on mobile devices. Call to action buttons such as links or sale item clicks need to be easily clicked on a tiny screen. If you can’t find the call to action easily, then your customers certainly can’t. Redesign your email template to keep action items higher on the screen and big, bold and easy to find.
Incorporating these best practices into your email marketing campaigns can solve many simple problems that are keeping you from achieving your response rate goals. Try one or more, and test and measure each as you implement them. The more you can improve your emails overall, the better your response rates will be.
Author: Jeanne Grunert is an award-winning writer and marketing expert with over 20 years of experience. In 2007, Jeanne quit her marketing executive position at a large New York City area publisher, moved to Virginia, opened her own freelance writing and content marketing firm, and began growing a life instead of just making a living. She writes about business, marketing, home and garden topics for Fit Small Business and a variety of publications and websites.