5 Ways to get higher open rates on your email blasts.

Yesterday we dismissed the myth that the size of an email blast list determines its value.  Since we know that the true success of any advertising campaign is the number of conversions and ROI (return on investment), it’s essential that we examine ways that we can increase those conversions.

And before we get to the message inside the blast, we’ve got to make sure as many people are opening it as possible.

Here are five tips you can use to increase the open rates on your email blasts, whether a third party is sending them for you (Telecharge.com, etc.) or whether you’re blasting the subscribers to your own lists.

1.  Customize your “From” field.

Most third party email blast providers (like Benchmark, the service I use and recommend) allow you to send emails from whatever name you’d like.  Make sure it’s not coming from ’emailblast@yourcompany.com’ or anything impersonal like that.  It should come from you or your show or maybe even a character in your show.  The more personal your communication, the better. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s as instantly recognizable as possible.

2.   Avoid Spam flags.

A lot happens to every email you send before it (hopefully) gets to your intended recipient.  Their ISP scans that sucker a few times looking for signs that you are a spammer.  If it sees one of those signs, your email will be sent to your recipient’s Spam folder faster than it would take you to throw up after eating a whole can of Spam by yourself.  Or worse, the ISP may just bounce your email back at you!  How can you decrease the chances of being seen as Spam?  Here are some things to avoid in your subject lines specifically:  exclamation points, dollar signs, all caps, words like “free,” “discount,” “special,” “save,” etc.

3.  It’s all in the timing.

There are not only better days of the week to send emails to increase your open rates, but there are also better times of day.  The tricky part is determining the best day/time for your specific message.  My research has shown more success on mid-week email blasts for the best open rates when pushing a sales message, so I focus on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday when I have a choice. Since most folks get their emails at work, I try to avoid Mondays (when their inboxes are overloaded from the weekend) and Fridays, when people are trying to get out of work.  Weekends are more successful than they used to be, but I try to steer clear of selling on a Saturday or Sunday.  I time my messages for the middle of the day (around lunch time), in the hopes that the recipient may open it while they’re munching on their salad or sandwich, since they have more time.

4.  Your subject is not a subject, it’s a headline.

A well written subject is the equivalent of old-fashioned direct response copy (click here to read one of the most successful headlines of all time).  It’s an ad for the ad.  Don’t just slap a few words together to say, “save $20 on tickets to XXX show.”  Your subject has to rev up your reader so that they are compelled to hit that “open” button.  Spend time on your subjects.  And watch what subjects intrigue you as you open emails every day.

5.  Test it and tweak it every time.

Split test your emails with two separate subjects, if you can.  If you can’t split, then try different ideas with each blast and see how your open rate changes from blast to blast. Testing is the key to improving anything, not just advertising and not just open rates, but this is one of the areas that we seem to ignore in this industry more than anything.  If we are so dependent on email blasts and open rates, then we have to try different things with each effort and adjust accordingly.

Email marketing isn’t going anywhere.  It’s still your show’s strongest asset, whether you’re buying email blasts from third parties, or sending them yourself (I hope both).  If you focus on improving your open rate with these tips (that, by the way, don’t cost you any more) you can make that asset even more rewarding.

Is bigger better when you’re talking about blasts?

Here comes an old chestnut of a joke for you.

Size doesn’t matter.

When people are peddlin’ you email blasts for your shows, they’ll all trumpet the size of their lists. 100,000.  350,000.  650,000! Immediately you’ll feel that “bigger is better” pull and think, “Wow, just imagine all those impressions at a cost of only pennies per!”

The moment someone tries to sell you a list, the first question you should ask is “How many subscribers do you have?”

But don’t stop there.

The second question you should ask is, “What is your average open rate?”  (An open rate is exactly what it sounds like . . . how many people open your email after receiving it).

Then, do some 9th grade math:

# Subscribers x Open Rate (%) = Actual Impressions

My research indicates that most commercial email blasts sold in our industry have open rates ranging from approximately 10-15%.

So . . . that means . . .

350,000 subscribers x 12.5% (in between 10-15%) = 43,750 impressions.

All of a sudden, the size of that list doesn’t seem that impressive, does it?

And that doesn’t mean those 43,750 people even read your “ad.”  Preview panes, mobile devices, etc., are screwing with open rate statistics now more than ever.

The truth is, the open rate isn’t even the most important statistic.

Now we all know that the real strength of these lists is in the number of conversions you receive from the openers.  But obviously, the more individuals that open your email, the greater chance you have at converting a sale.

So how do you increase your open rate?

Tomorrow I’ll give you 5 tips on how to increase your open rate.

In the meantime, don’t be impressed by the size of something.

Because, yes, that old Catskills-like joke is true.

Size does not matter.

(And that doesn’t mean my list is small, by the way. Cuz, it’s not. I’ve got a big list.  I’m just saying that . . . you know . . . it doesn’t matter for those out there that don’t have a big list but know how to use it.  Really.  I swear.)

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s follow up.