Understanding Open Rates

ArtKosPhotoBy Art Kosieradzki,

In the email marketing world, the sun rises and sets on measurable statistics. By measuring how many people are opening your monthly email campaign and monitoring which links are being clicked the most often, one can make informed decisions on how to continually improve those numbers.

A common misconception among those who are new to the practice of email marketing is the expectation of high open rates. It’s best to maintain realistic expectations and work to improve. So what’s a realistic open rate? Let’s be blunt. It isn’t going to be 90%. Not even close. If you were giving away free money you wouldn’t score that high.

It sounds bad, but it gets better.

The expectations are different for different types of campaigns. Marketers are pretty happy if a standard commercial email promoting a sale or a new product, for example, generates a 2% unique open rate (unique means subscribers are only counted once no matter how many times they open the email). Membership organizations, like your state trial lawyer association, might boast open rates as high as 40% on monthly or bi-weekly updates to active members. The open rates for general interest newsletters like You Should Know are typically in the 10% to 20% range. In 2013, the average monthly open rate for You Should Know was 13.8%

While 10-20% may seem low at first glance, consider that the people that comprise the 10-20% are the ones most engaged in your message. Imagine what an incredible asset this is for you: The top 10-20% of people most likely to seek your services are reading your marketing message every month. Also consider that although that number may stay the same each month, actual readers may differ based on the topic. This means the cumulative number of people from your subscriber list that open your newsletter each year will be significantly higher than 10% to 20%.

List Hygiene – Another Good Practice

You can usually expect the open rates for your first few mailings to be slightly lower. This is especially true if you started collecting email addresses before you began sending a consistent, sustained email newsletter. But on the bright side, your first few sends will help you do some list hygiene. Those recipients who forgot who you are or who are simply no longer interested will more than likely opt-out early. After a few months, you’ll be left with a lean, mean list of people who WANT to hear from you. And those are people worth marketing to.

Continual Improvement – An Even Better Practice

There are  many techniques involved in improving your open rate. At Let America Know, we closely monitor such factors as the time of day that recipients open their emails. When we notice a trend, we’ll try to target it on the next issue. We are careful to be consistent in our “inbox marketing” efforts, meaning we’ll use a solid subject line so your message soon becomes recognizable and intriguing to readers at a glance. We also run numerous A/B tests to determine which headlines and images do better than others.

You can do your part by updating your custom content on a regular basis. Use the message section of the newsletter to share information about your accomplishments, the cases you are working on, public service projects, staff changes, etc. And don’t be afraid to lighten it up a bit: One Let America Know member publishes a lawyer joke each month in his newsletter!

Content for Social Media

On top of all the important statistics that support your email campaign, don’t forget the value derived at re-purposing your email content throughout your social media platforms. Let’s face it, coming up with valuable content to share with others isn’t easy to do on a consistent and strategic basis. Since your email newsletter is carefully crafted by our editorial staff, you’ve now killed two birds with one stone. After your campaign launches, use the Marketing Download to systematically post  in places like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions or ideas you’d like us to discuss, please send them to me at art@letamericaknow.com

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