As a marketing agency, you're always looking for quick wins for your clients that can lead to bigger successes down the line. And improving your clients' email open rate opens the door to the store, so to speak.
Once you get more people opening your clients' emails, it's easier to engage them with the content inside and move them along the sales funnel, and ultimately drive more conversions and revenue for their business.
In this article, we'll share proven strategies for agencies to help clients improve their email open rates–and their bottom line:
While these email benchmarks are a useful starting point, it's always worth delving deeper into your industry averages and comparing your metrics with others in your client’s field to see how you stack up.
And providing historical background on your clients’ past email campaigns is easy with data visualization tools like this one that easily allows you to zoom in and out of time periods to show progress over time.
Easily showcase your agency’s successes and how your email campaigns tie into the bigger picture. Impress clients with stunning marketing reports with AgencyAnalytics. Start your free 14-day trial today!
Don’t Shout Into the Void–Get Those Emails Delivered
Just like Adele’s hit song, “Hello,” you’re going to want to make sure that email recipients can actually hear you. Because even the most engaging email content and a highly targeted list won't matter if emails don't make it to their inbox.
That's why email deliverability is crucial for improving average email open rates and achieving success with your email marketing campaign.
Deliverability can be affected by a variety of factors, including the sender's reputation, the content of the email, and the recipient's email service provider. So to improve it, you need to:
This involves sending relevant and valuable content to engaged subscribers and avoiding practices that can negatively impact your sender’s reputation, such as using spam trigger words in your subject line or sending emails to purchased or rented lists.
People are more likely to open emails that are sent from a name they recognize and trust. So Send emails from a trustworthy name to boost your email open rates.
Agency Tip: If your client’s brand is small or personal, put the sender’s name in the "From" field, not the name of their business. Alternatively, if their brand is recognizable, you may get better results sending it from their business name.
2. Use a Reputable Email Service Provider
Choose an email service provider that has a good reputation for deliverability and provides tools and features to help you monitor and improve your deliverability.
Popular email service providers like MailChimp and ConstantContact allow you to use a double opt-in system to ensure that your clients’ subscribers are actually interested in their business.
With this type of system, subscribers have to open the first email and click a confirmation link to be added to your list. Sure, you’ll likely get fewer subscribers, but you're only losing the people who didn't care that much in the first place. This is also a good way to prevent bots from joining your clients’ lists and skewing their email open rate.
Easily Report on All Your Client’s Email Campaign Metrics
Regularly remove inactive subscribers and invalid email addresses from your active email lists to improve your deliverability and avoid sending to email addresses that no longer exist.
Regularly cleaning your list of unengaged subscribers and bounced email addresses will help keep your reputation squeaky clean, as well as only sending to subscribers who have opted- in to hear from you. Consider implementing double opt-in at sign-up or a sunset flow to help automate this process.
– Kelsey Duarte, Email Marketing Strategist at Coalition Technologies
Just like anything else, your email list needs regular maintenance to stay neat and tidy. Go through your clients’ contact lists periodically and do the following checks:
Fix common typos, such as email@example.com or seomarketer@yahoocom.
Remove alias email addresses, like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Check your feedback loops. If people are reporting your messages as spam, it could damage your reputation with ISPs. Remove the complainers from your list so they can't keep sending your emails to their spam folder.
Look at your bounces. A hard bounce means there's a permanent problem with an email address–it may be deleted or blocked. Whatever the reason, you should take it off your list right away. A soft bounce indicates a temporary problem with an email address, like a full mailbox, so it's okay to keep soft bounces on your list.
Identify subscribers who never open your emails but don't delete them right away. Give them one more chance to re-engage with you. For instance, you could send an email offering them a discount or just ask them if they want to keep getting emails from you. If you don't hear back within a week, cut them from your active sender list.
Agency Tip: Even if you don’t delete them from the backend, tag these users in a way that you can easily exclude them from future campaigns (until such time that they become active again, either by opening an older email or taking some kind of tagged action on the client’s website).
4. Monitor Email Engagement Metrics
Pay attention to your email open rates, click rates, and other vital email engagement metrics to identify potential deliverability issues and take corrective action. To do this in a scalable way when your agency has multiple client accounts, you’re going to need a streamlined way to keep track of it all.
The quality of your email list is far more important than the quantity. Maintaining a healthy list is important to maintain strong email deliverability.
With AgencyAnalytics, pull in all your clients’ email marketing metrics from their favorite email marketing platforms into live, interactive dashboards to glean instant insights. Easily move between your clients’ email, SEO, PPC, social, and other KPIs and stop wasting time switching between platforms.
Email often is about driving traffic to other brand destinations. You may promote content or products on your website or social profiles, for example. As such, having email metrics integrated into other metrics, such as your website, are hugely helpful.
The Secret to Increasing Email Open Rates: Segmentation and Personalization
Segmentation and personalization are powerful tactics that marketing agencies use to improve email open rates and drive engagement with their clients' target audiences.
By segmenting your email list and creating targeted content that speaks to specific groups of subscribers, and then personalizing the message with their name or other relevant information, you make the email feel like a one-on-one conversation rather than a generic blast. This makes it more likely that your clients' emails will be opened and engaged with–ultimately driving better results for their business.
Segmenting is the process of categorizing your client’s email list into smaller groups to tailor your marketing more effectively. There are several ways to divide up your list to improve your open rate. Consider segmenting by:
Demographics such as age, gender, location, or job title can better tailor.
Interests specific to the needs and wants of the subscriber. Consider why it is that they were interested in your client’s company in the first place.
Behavior such as purchase history, website activity, or simply how often they opened your emails can tell you a lot about the next actions the recipients are willing to take.
Engagementmetrics such as open rates and click-through rates (CTR) identify those subscribers that are more likely to engage with your campaign.
Lead source or acquisition channel segmentation understands that how a user joined the list, such as through a specific lead magnet, social media platform, or event, can influence the email content required to convert.
The more you can segment your audience and personalize your message, the more likely you'll see an increase in conversions.
The more data you gather about your subscribers, the easier it will be to segment your list effectively, so consider conducting some informal polls or surveys to find out more about your potential customers.
Everyone loves hearing (or reading) their own name. Personalization involves using subscriber data such as their name, location, or past behavior to tailor the email content. By using dynamic content blocks and personalization tokens, you can create a personalized experience that resonates with the recipient.
To get your subscribers' attention, talk directly to them by using their names in your emails, preferably in both the subject line and the body. You can also personalize your emails based on your subscribers' location and any other pertinent information you've gathered about them.
The Spotify Wrapped campaign is a great example of a personalized email that uses tailored data and emotional appeal to create excitement for users. This anticipation leads to higher email open rates, and the campaign's shareability further increases brand exposure and engagement.
Agency Tip: Choose your email personalization wisely. If your client’s brand is trying to be friendly and approachable, having the personalization say “Mr. Smith” or “John Smith” will not reinforce that brand promise. Conversely, a very business-oriented brand may want to avoid personalizations such as “Hey There John!”
Best Practices for A/B Testing to Boost Email Open Rates
Since each client–and their audience–is unique, you probably won't get everything right on the first try. Split testing is a good way to learn from your mistakes and improve more quickly. By trying out two (or more) strategies at once and comparing the results, you'll get a good idea of what works with your audience and what doesn't.
You can run split tests to improve your email open rate for several elements, such as:
Just divide your email list into two groups, send both batches of emails, and see which group you get better results from. But make sure your two testing groups are as similar as possible–your results might not be accurate if your groups have significant demographic differences.
5 Tips for A/B Testing To Improve Open Rate
1. Define clear goals before starting an A/B test and decide on the marketing metrics to measure success. To improve email open rate, you’re going to need to look at each element of your email that appears beforethe recipient clicks on the email or influences them to even see it.
2. Test one variable at a time to accurately measure the impact of each variable and clearly identify which specific element is driving better results. (i.e., only modify the subject line for one A/B test and then the sending time for another). If there are too many variables being tested at the same time, you won’t know which drove the performance improvement. Or, even worse, a significant boost because of one change can be undercut by underperforming variations somewhere else.
3. Segment your email list to ensure that the A/B test is performed on a representative sample of your clients' target audience.
4. Test with a large sample size: To ensure statistical significance, test with a large sample size, like 1000 recipients. The larger the sample size, the more accurate the results will be. If the results are not clear, be prepared to run the test again until the aggregate sample size is large enough.
Strategies for Improving Email Content To Boost Open Rate
Past actions predict future actions. So ultimately, the content of your clients' emails is what will ultimately determine whether or not the email is opened and engaged with.
Let’s explore some ways to improve email open rate through your content.
It All Begins With a Great Subject Line
A subject line is to an email what a headline is to an article. It’s the first thing the reader sees, so make it engaging and compelling to entice them to open the email. Use clear and concise language that conveys the value of the email content.
A few rules of thumb for clickable subject lines to boost your email open rate:
Make them concise, specific, and action-oriented
Add a sense of urgency
Use words and phrases like "buy now," "cash," "winner," and "sale" sparingly, if at all–it might even get snagged by the spam filter
Use FOMO (i.e., they'll be missing out on something great if they don't click)
Use all caps or multiple exclamation points
Use a sense of curiosity (i.e., "Special offer inside”)
Be too salesy (i.e., "Grab our marketing guide while it's free!")
Be sure to optimize your subject lines for mobile devices so they display fully on a mobile screen. If you’re wondering, that’s usually less than 30 characters.
Place the Focus on the Reader
Nobody likes reading stiff, formal marketing emails. More people will open your emails if they’re fun to read, so don't focus on the fact that you're sending each email out to a lot of people–write like you're talking to your favorite subscriber.
Here are some guidelines to help you focus on the reader:
Understand the target audience. Research their demographics, interests, and pain points to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates them.
Use language that speaks to the reader's interests and preferences. Highlight products, services, or content that is specifically relevant to them.
Address their pain points or challenges and offer solutions to those challenges, like helpful tips, advice, or solutions that demonstrate your clients' expertise and value.
Offer valuable content that the reader can use or learn from. This can be in the form of exclusive offers, informative or educational content, or personalized recommendations based on their past behavior.
Use a conversational tone that is engaging, as if you are speaking directly to the reader. This helps to establish a connection with the reader and makes the email feel more personal.
Agency Tip: Keep your emails in line with what's appropriate in your client’s industry–but don’t be afraid to throw in a joke or a pun every now and then, either. You've got more leeway in an artistic field than you do in finance or marketing to attorneys, for instance.
Deliver Great (and Unique) Content
If every email you send is too promotional or boring, people will catch on and stop opening them. Maintain a good reputation with your clients’ subscribers by sending emails they'll actually want to read.
Agency Tip: Two out of three emails are opened on a mobile device, and that number is growing. So give your pre-header text some thought as mobile devices display the beginning of your email to give your subject line some context.
Here are some ways marketing agencies can provide excellent value in every email:
Don't email just for the sake of emailing. Only email your subscribers when you have something valuable to say. Avoid sending emails that are too promotional or boring, as subscribers may catch on and stop opening them (or unsubscribe).
Write well and use a lively tone. And proofread every email to make sure you haven't made any easily-preventable grammar or spelling mistakes. This will help to make the email more engaging and professional.
Link to something valuable, such as a useful article or video. This will keep them engaged and interested in your clients' brand.
Give something away. This is another way of providing added value by sending your subscribers an ebook, some case studies, a coupon code, or an invitation to a webinar. This will help to incentivize subscribers to engage with your clients' brand.
Instead of $10 off and standard coupons, change the language of the pitch to 'We've added $10 to your account'... same 10 dollar off coupon, but people are much more likely to click on it if they think that the money is already in their account.
When it comes to writing alternative content, get creative. Infographics work great if they're short and sweet (and load quickly). You can even embed some of your top-performing social media content in there to keep things dynamic and build a community.
Example of a Creative Email
Warby Parker's email campaigns are another great example of creative emails that stand out from the crowd. The emails feature engaging content, such as behind-the-scenes looks at the company's design process or interviews with influencers. The emails also include clear calls-to-action that encourage readers to shop the latest collections or try on new frames.
Keep things fresh so that in the future, people will always open emails when they see they're from your client’s brand.
Always be thinking outside the box. Automated emails can be your best friend if you think outside of the basics like Welcome Series, Abandoned Cart, New Customer, etc. Try other triggers like when a customer hasn't shopped with you in a long time, or maybe when it's something they can order often, try a replenishment campaign.
In general, weekdays are better than weekends, and the middle of the day is better than during the evening. And whatever you do, don't send emails in the middle of the night, or your open rate will take a nosedive.
To ensure that your emails are reaching the recipients at your intended time, scheduled them to be delivered based on the recipient’s time zone, i.e., 2pm Local Time. Otherwise, if you want the spread the news to everyone in your list at the same time, stick to a timezone where the majority of your audience is based.
Track Your Clients’ Email Open Rate Progress in a Scalable Way
Your email open rate success depends on a lot of factors, but luck isn't one of them. And when it comes to email marketing, one size does not fit all. By tailoring your email content to your clients' audience, your agency creates a more personalized and engaging experience that consistently drives better results for its clients.
Show how effective your email campaigns are with a white labeled email marketing reporting tool–it automatically creates and sends campaign reports to clients.
Tie in your email marketing metrics to the bigger picture and instantly show your impact on your clients’ bottom line. Create intuitive client reports in minutes with AgencyAnalytics. Start your free 14-day trial today!
Gather and analyze subscriber data: Collect data on subscribers' demographics, interests, and behavior to identify patterns and trends that can inform segmentation and personalization strategies.
Segment the email list: Divide the email list into smaller groups based on common characteristics or behaviors.
Create targeted content: Create email content that speaks directly to the interests and needs of each segment.
Use personalization tokens: Incorporate subscriber data into the email content using personalization tokens.
Test and refine: Continually test and refine your segmentation and personalization strategies to improve their effectiveness and drive better results.
Track your email KPIs in a scalable way to keep tabs on all your client campaigns and identifies areas for further improvement.
Your cyber carrier pigeons await! 📧 🕊️
Melody Sinclair-Brooks brings nearly a decade of experience in marketing in the tech industry. Specializing in B2B messaging for startups and SaaS, she crafts campaigns that cut through the noise, leveraging customer insights and multichannel strategies for tangible growth.