Metric anomalies: Why are my email open rates decreasing?
You can’t work it out; you’ve been sending monthly newsletters for a year now, and while you started with a bang at a 60% open rate, you’ve seen your email open rates are slowly withering away as the months go by… and it’s frustrating.
If you’re a one-man-band or a small backyard business and you’re facilitating all your emails in-house, you can’t be blamed for pulling your hair out in frustration. After all, open rate metric anomalies are enough to make some expert digital marketers explode with frustration.
If your email open rates are decreasing, you need to take a step back and have a good think. There are many reasons why this could be occurring, and it’s not all doom and gloom.
Open rates only indicate how many people open the email from the total amount sent, not those that were actually delivered. If they’re not landing in people’s inboxes, then that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Your recipients are not even seeing them, so of course, they’re not going to open them. Naturally, decreasing deliverability will eventuate into declining open rates as fewer people see your emails in their inbox. If you want more accurate metrics, match up your inbox placements rates with campaigns to their open rates and see how they compare. When you see a direct correlation, then you’ll need to work on your deliverability.
If you’ve worked out that no, deliverability is not the catalyst for dwindling email open rates, there are many other factors to consider.
One of the main, and perhaps the most critical factors that contribute to your email open rates are subject lines. If they’re not interesting enough to entice the recipient to open the email, then surprise-surprise, they won’t open it.
Almost 50% of email recipients open their emails based on subject lines and nearly 70% of email recipients report emails as spam based purely on how uninviting or “spammy” the email is. More on this can be found on Invesp’s site here.
If that’s not enough to make you think: hey, maybe I should concentrate on my subject lines more, then how about this for a statistic? 75% of email recipients say they at least occasionally read subject lines before deciding whether to delete or open the email. You have one shot here, so for the love of open rates, make it count!
We’re talking about the dull grey sub-text below your subject line, and it’s the second and final chance you have to change the recipient’s mind by opening your email. It’s the dark horse in email marketing; many marketers or self-marketers take very little notice of it, but it’s a very powerful little tool. Campaign Monitor did a great job of explaining it when they said “users use [preheader text] to screen emails, while marketers are using it as an opportunity to make an impression…” so don’t think of it as an afterthought. Find a way to connect it to your subject line, without it sounding too”salesy” or rigid.
Eliminating inactive users from lists
It seems like an obvious thing to do, but this “Friday job” seems to creep down the to-do list until it looks becomes unbearable to look even at. These recipients are the ones that never open an email but never bother click “unsubscribe.” You may find that your inactive user numbers will grow as your list ages, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your emails are failing. It may mean that your older contacts no longer relate to your product. As is typical in every business, your market will shift as your business and product offering evolves through time. Don’t be alarmed if your inactive user list starts to reach record heights – it’s just nature taking its course. To keep these members in the loop, try segmenting your inactive users into a separate list and send them email campaigns to get them pumped about your brand again – all is not lost!
Another metric to look at when putting the pieces of your open rate puzzle together, relevancy is the process of segmenting your list according to specific demographics and behaviour – age, purchasing history, gender, location – to personalise your email according to that particular recipient. It’s been proven that by personalising your subject line and preheader text, engagement metrics will increase by up to 40% according to the 2010 Lyris Annual Email Report.
Every business is different; this is not a 100% fool-proof email marketing plan that guarantees improved open rates. The safest and most efficient way of achieving the open rates you want is by testing the above, over and over. It’s also important to note that it’s not the most important metric to track when it comes to email marketing, though it is essential. Want other tips and tricks to achieve better results for your email marketing campaigns? Give us a call today!