The process of crafting the perfect pitch, sourcing the most eye catching images and finely honing your calls to action can all feel soul destroying if you continually see disappointing open rates and little to no response.

Whether you’re trying to drum up business for yourself or on behalf of a client, overcoming and improving email open rates is a universally challenging task.

However there are many small yet influential factors that can positively impact that frustratingly low open rate …

1. Be realistic about open rates

Let’s begin with posing a question that requires a little thought:

What open rate are you trying to achieve?

Many clients, and even sometimes us VAs’, can have expectations that go far beyond the industry standard.

Typical open rates change from industry to industry. Business emails have a typical open rate of 20.68% whilst hobby related emails have a typical open rate of 30.71%.

This latter statistic signifies that people are more ready and willing to open emails if they a) have previous experience in and around the topic and b) have a vested interest in the subject matter.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, software such as Mailchimp can help give you a set percentage as to what the industry relevant to your campaigns generally see in relation to open rates. It’s worth taking a look at these before deciding whether your campaigns are succeeding or not.

2. Tackle the basics

Taking a look at the previous point, having experience of the topic gives your subscriber a reason for opening the email without you having to do much more than that. So it’s important to prime your subscribers for the emails that are going to be sent.

For example, you could send confirmation emails following a newsletter sign up that outlines some kind of ‘essential guide’ to give added value to them and/or their business. This also acts as an incentive to sign up in the first place.

The process of opting into a mailing list is an important one. Whilst I know some companies, and VAs, purchase mailing lists, often these can be a waste of money as the people on those lists possibly won’t be interested in what you’re offering, so your open rate success will remain low.

What’s more, this is more likely to be seen as ‘Spam’ which will do far more damage to you or your client’s reputation than it will to your business’ ongoing success.

3. Create interest in the subject matter

Crafting the perfect email consists of 2 simple elements:

  1. A killer subject line
  2. Content that provides value

In order to grab your reader’s attention with your subject line follow these simple steps:

  • Be succinct and catchy.
  • Ask a question – This evokes an immediate response and naturally creates a little personal investment into what the email may contain.
  • Personalise it by including the receiver’s name – With people receiving on average 120 emails per day, personalising your message can give yours the differentiation it needs. In fact, this is another reason why ‘opting in’ adds unparalleled value to an email campaign.

4. Craft content that adds value

Whilst developing the ‘perfect’ content can be a reasonably pain staking and lengthy process, the premise behind what you are trying to achieve is simple – providing value to your reader.

Answer these questions to help you establish valuable content:

  1. What does your target reader care about?
  2. What information can you share with them that will make them more successful, efficient or profitable?
  3. How does this tie in with your, or your client’s, business offering?

5. Analyse your performance

What works for one industry, will not work for another, so it’s a good idea to do some split testing i.e. test two different email campaigns to see which one gets the better open rate.

Again, programmes such as Mailchimp make this a breeze. You can play around with the wording and the calls to action to see what’s most effective. Then simply replicate that winning formula each time.

How well do your email campaigns do? Do you meet the industry ‘norm’ for open rates, or are you struggling to engage with your subscribers?