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What is an open rate? Why does it matter to your business? How do you increase it? This is the formula you need to use to understand what an open rate is:


There are two types of bounces, soft and hard bounces. Soft bounces typically mean the email can’t be delivered due to a spam block, spam filter, or the host is down. Hard bounce usually mean the email address isn’t valid. Soft bounces can be a nightmare for a small business if it’s hosting their own email server. Dealing with the big service providers such as Yahoo and Comcast to stop the spam blocking is beyond frustrating. I’d highly recommending using a CRM that has the capability built in and has taken care of the hosting for you.

Knowing what percent of emails you send that are actually opened enables you to know how effective email campaigns are, why you have the KPI figures that you have, and if needed, how to tweak your emails to improve the probability they’ll be read.

Improving the open rate can be achieved in three ways:

  1. Know the average industry open rate for the sector you are in, and set this as your benchmark. For instance, per Constant Contact, the open rate for the Crafts industry is 27%, while the Travel and Tourism industry is 19%. In other words, don’t expect an open rate of 80% if you’re in the Travel and Tourism industry. Also, don’t panic if your open rate doesn’t match the industry standard. That just means you’ve learned that the email content needs to be tweaked. Practice makes perfect!
  2. Clarify the demographic you are trying to reach, and identify the best day and time to send your email. For the Crafts industry, the highest open rate time is 5 AM on Fridays. While Travel and Tourism industry is 7 AM on Mondays. Also, keep in mind those times are the customer’s local time. However, if an email is sent out on a Tuesday instead of a Monday it doesn’t mean you’ll lose out on oodles of opportunities. All the research out there points to all emails sent Monday-Friday are extremely close in results.
  3. Be strategic about your email subject line. To enhance open rates use short catchy subject lines that truly connects to the content in the email. To keep your email out the spam box, avoid spammy subject line words like “Buy Direct” or “No Obligation.” Also, avoid punctuation errors. Last but not least, using ALL CAPS is a major spam filter trigger. Avoid it at all costs.

Further, include accurate and relevant content as part of your catchy and meaningful subject lines. Failure to deliver on the subject line will lead to a decreased open rate since the audience may not trust what you are saying. Use great CRM tools to help know who your target is and tailor each message accordingly.

Last, regularly clean out email addresses that have unsubscribed, those that bounce, or those that have not been opened in 6 months from your database. Doing so will help improve the open rates by decreasing the number of unnecessary emails sent out.


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