20 Tips to Get Attendees to Open your Emails

Skift Take

Sending powerful emails is one thing, but here are 20 of the top ways to get your audience to actually open and read them.

Emails can be used for marketing, to raise awareness or even develop a closer relationship with your attendees or clients and are an essential part of modern life. With the sea of messages being pushed to people’s screens, how do you make your emails stand out, rather than destined for the trash folder?

Getting people to open your emails is more than half the battle. Emails in the event and entertainment niche have a 21.21% open rate on average and a 2.33% click through. Other stats suggest email marketing campaigns within the event industry perform far worse at 16.45%, which puts the event industry in the lower half of the statistics. Whatever the real stats this just means that eventprofs need to work harder to get their email messages read by the people that matter.

  1. Spell Check

This shouldn’t even be on this list for professional people and yet it is one of the biggest mistakes people make that drastically affect open rates! Even if you are aiming for a personable or friendly tone, poor spelling or grammar can be a big turn off for subscribers and also makes your personal brand look unprofessional. It certainly doesn’t create a good impression. We know you are busy, but always spell check your subject lines and content before sending out email campaigns. You don’t want to be seen as an amateur or get banished straight to the SPAM folder.

  1. Go For Quality Not Quantity

When it comes to your email lists, have double opt in features and aim to get the most quality leads you can. It can feel like a lot of hassle but it will do half of the work for you, those who are worth it will go through the extra effort and are more likely to interact with future campaigns. Likewise it puts off those who can’t really be bothered, making sure you have a truly valuable list. Just remember, fewer active subscribers who get involved are worth more than a lot of lookie-loos who just delete your emails.

  1. Decide On Frequency

There’s a fine line between too many emails and too little and it all depends on your content. Don’t flood your subscriber’s inbox with a lot of essays and newsletters, they will get bored and stop opening, but at the same time, you can’t ignore them for weeks and expect them to start interacting with you as soon as you email them. Most subscribers will forget what they sign up to, especially if you aren’t in regular contact with them, therefore decide on a frequency and stick to it.

Even better, if you can, get the recipient to decide how regularly they want to hear from you.

  1. Be Mobile Accessible

In this mobile statistics report it is suggested that by 2018 around 84% of the world population will be using mobile technology and 80% of email users will be accessing their accounts via their mobile. This means you need to make your emails adaptive and interactive with mobile devices, as well as for desktop readers.

Ensuring that the layout will accommodate mobile resolutions and it doesn’t get glitchy is imperative for keeping your mobile audience and as the number of them grows you might be better off tailoring for mobile users first and then working on the desktop version, rather than traditionally doing it the other way around.   

  1. Check For Glitches

Pre-test your email campaign before it is sent out either by getting a copy sent to yourself or creating a live preview before you hit the send button to ensure that all links and media are working properly. The worst feeling for a subscriber is opening an email, getting interested and your link/video/voucher code doesn’t work! You will lose the trust of your subscribers, some will automatically unsubscribe and others simply won’t click on your emails in the future.

  1. Avoid Buying Leads

It can be tempting, especially when starting to build your lists to buy leads in order to reach a wider audience in a shorter space of time, however, it doesn’t pay off long-term. You may find that you get great open rates to start with as you contact leads who haven’t heard of you, a great number will open your email to find who you are and then hit unsubscribe, or worse, report as SPAM.

It may seem harmless but one of the ways SPAM filters detect spammers is the behaviour of their lists, if you get a lot of leads deleting, unsubscribing, blocking you or moving your emails to the SPAM folder it tells these filters you aren’t providing value and this will hinder you reaching your audience next time.

  1. Split Testing

Don’t be afraid to run some tests to determine exactly what your audience wants to see, after all, open rates are all about giving the people what they want. Split tests allow you to separate parts of your list and run an A/B experiment with your content, for example, you could change the subject line for one and not the other to determine what gets the best open rate, look at sending out the same email at different times to see the best response or even play around with the layout and content itself. Either way it is all about tweaking and testing to find the optimal conditions to get the best open rates.

  1. Be Personable

You want to be professional but at the same time, appeal to your audience, don’t sound like a mindless drone or a multinational corporation, find your own voice. Write to the individual you want to inspire, don’t make it generic. This builds up loyalty and will always be more successful if people feel that you understand them and are speaking to them directly.

  1. Segment Your Lists

You don’t always have to send everything out to all of your subscribers at once, after all, they aren’t all interested in the same content, especially if you cover a wide range. Segmenting your list is an excellent way to provide specific and relevant information to the correct people on your list and build up an ongoing relationship that results in noticeably higher open rates.

You can segment according to where they signed up from, the previous content they liked, customer data, like where they are located or even allow them to make their own choice on sign-up by opting into the segments they are interested in.

  1. Consistency Is Key

If it’s a weekly newsletter, release it weekly, no exceptions because it doesn’t bode well if an organisation can’t even be consistent with their email sign-up. It is ok to add additional campaigns when necessary but some people will be expecting your emails every week, month or fortnight so don’t disappoint them.

  1. Be Transparent

Everyone hates clickbait, which is a way of implying there is one type of information that simply isn’t there. This is the fastest way to get people to unsubscribe from your list and destroy your reputation. You can forget open rates altogether if you rely on this type of behavior.

Be honest and transparent about what is in your emails and don’t try to mislead your readers. There is a fine line between enticing them to open the email but implying something is there that isn’t is not going to be well received. EVER.

  1. Give Value

Don’t just keep selling to your list, give something back and provide them with real value so that they want to open your emails. If you are running a marketing campaign, add a freebie or some useful, relevant top tips that they can use so that they don’t feel that they are being used for the hard sell. Giving things away for free is a sure fire way to gain loyalty and they will always open your emails to see what they can get this time, people love free stuff.

  1. Powerful Subject Lines

This is a fine art and there a lot of studies to find out which subject lines will get you the best open rates. Perhaps surprisingly, the highest open rates of between 60-87% mostly include the company name in the title with straightforward and honest subjects such as:

  • [company name] newsletter
  • Invitation from [company name]
  • Upcoming Events at [company name]

Don’t overthink it and test to see what works best, but ultimately for better open rates the subject needs to be honest, enticing and have a sense of urgency.

  1. Timing Is Everything

This can take a bit of, you guessed it, time because ultimately it depends on the content you provide as well as the demographic and habits of your readers. That being said it is important to find the best posting time so that you can catch people in a better mood or when they are more likely to open your email, for example when they are commuting or on their lunch break or even perhaps at the weekend. You can use split testing or just spend some time changing the schedule of your email release and tracking the amount of opens that you get. In no time you will have an idea of the perfect posting time to suit you and your readers!

  1. Avoid Spam Filters

These filters stop you from even reaching your audience and research shows that only 73% of legitimate mailing actually reaches its recipient. You need to avoid getting caught in Spam filters at all costs. The Spam criteria is all about:

  • Providing quality content to your readers
  • Ensuring you aren’t abusing your power, holding their data
  • Avoiding key trigger words in the titles such as; earning, 100% free, marketing, risk free
  • Including an unsubscribe option
  • Including a mailing address
  1. Add Humour

In a sea of business and marketing and everyday life, people remember what made them laugh or smile and they are more likely to want to see what you have to say again. Consider adding appropriate images, gifs or media to lighten the tone. Marketing campaigns that can create a funny oasis from the usual negativity and mundane content that floods their inbox will make people keener to open your email every time.

  1. Stay On Message

If you agreed to send promotions then send promotions with bold, hard selling titles detailing exactly what you have e.g. “25% off event tickets inside” and stick to this type of selling as it is what your list signed up for. If you opted for a newsletter or softer approach then focus on building a relationship first. Either way stick to your brand and don’t mix things up, remember what people signed up for and stay on message.

  1. Refresh Your List

Leads can go stale quickly. Sometimes it could be because they have changed their email address or they are no longer interested but for whatever reason, these dead ends are ruining your open rates and are a drain on your list. Inactive subscribers are considered to be anyone who hasn’t interacted with your campaigns in the last 3-6 months, or the last 10-12 emails, depending on the frequency that you send out. They should be removed from your lists but before doing this, consider sending breakup emails or warnings to these subscribers in a last ditch attempt to pique their interest and get them back. If not, get rid of them.

  1. Create A Sense Of Urgency

Even with newsletters or soft sells it is important to make your readers want to open the email straight away because chances are if they scroll past, even if they are interested, they will forget about it and your email will be lost and pushed down by hundreds of other messages clamouring for attention. In your subject line, create a sense of urgency or time limitation or regularly include limited time offers so that readers know they have to act quickly!

  1. Manage Expectations On Sign-Up

A lot of your open rate success comes from before subscribers even sign up and you can ensure better numbers by controlling your audience expectations from the start. Ensure that during your opt-in or sign-up process you make it abundantly clear the type of emails you will be sending, for example whether it is a newsletter or promotional offers. Give them as much information as possible. Let them know the frequency you will be emailing, when they can expect your email and you could give some insight and examples of a previous campaign too. Allowing your readers to know exactly what they are getting into will avoid disappointment and ensure that only those who are genuinely interested will sign-up.

In Conclusion

As you can see there are a lot of aspects to consider, some of which you can change right now and some that will take more time, either way, focusing on these areas will definitely improve your open rates and help to create a quality list that can benefit your brand or business.