Despite Mark Zuckerburg’s attempt to pronounce email as “dead” over a decade ago, it’s a marketing mainstay that’s here for the long haul. Email users in the United States are projected to grow to 81.2% of the total population by 2024. Even the social-media obsessed Millennials and Gen Zers have a death grip on their emails. 

But wait. . . if email is so important, why aren’t my messages being opened? 

The average open rate for marketing or mass emails across all industries is about 20%. Within insurance, the average is slightly higher—21.3%. That means for every email sent to your subscriber list, 1 out of 5 people will open it. These are just baseline numbers, though. Hop into your email marketing account and take a look at your own open rate stats to see how you compare. 

If you want to give your open rates and overall readership a boost, there are a few things you can start doing: 

1. Consistently Provide Value

Take a look at your own inbox and the emails you tend to open week after week. Chances are those emails are providing value that speaks directly to you and what you need. The most important (and arguably the hardest) part of getting those consistent opens is by really understanding who is reading your emails, what they need, and what they want to see.

Often the best way to do this is by breaking your list up into groups or segments, based on interest, demographics, or need. This allows you to send very targeted messages to different groups, rather than trying to speak more generally to a broad audience who may have very different goals or needs.  

2. Subject Lines

Subject lines are the first thing someone sees when they open their inbox. Think about how you can pique interest and spark curiosity, while still being direct and descriptive. Again, consider what your audience needs, what they fear, what pains they’re trying to address, or what matters to them most—and create subject lines reflecting that. Many email providers allow you to A/B test a couple of subject lines to see which works best with your audience.

And as a general rule of thumb, keep your subject lines to 35 characters or less. Each email service allows only a certain amount of characters for subject lines, and that character limit may differ depending on the device being used. Staying within 35 characters should make sure your full subject line is seen. 

3. Be Strategic with Send Times 

There’s a reason why door-to-door salespeople always seem to drop by around 6 or 7 p.m.—that’s when they know you’re home! Email is no different. There are times of the day and the week when people are most likely to check and open messages. Many people tend to check their emails at the beginning (9 or 10 a.m.) and the end (6 p.m.) of the day, as well as during their afternoon lull (around 1 p.m.).

But remember, these are averages. Start with these times as a baseline, then test out different days and times with your audience. You may find that Saturday or Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. are far more effective than 1 p.m. on a Friday. 

4. Use a Clear, Simple Call to Action

General all-purpose newsletters can be great for company updates, run-of-the-mill reminders, and non-urgent information. But if you want your audience to do something—schedule a call, sign up for a webinar, take advantage of a limited promotion or time-sensitive savings, etc.—remove all other noise and focus on that one thing.

Be very clear about what the reader should do and (more importantly) what’s in it for them. Then make it very easy for your readers to take action. Want them to call or email you? Put the phone number or email link in your message. Want them to sign up for an appointment? Give them a button that sends them directly to an appointment calendar. 

5. Make Sure Your Emails Are Mobile-Friendly

39% of emails are opened on mobile devices, so make sure emails are sized appropriately and look right no matter if they’re read on a desktop, phone, or tablet. Most email providers let you see a “mobile preview” before sending, or you can send a few test emails to yourself or colleagues before sending to your entire list. 

6. Keep Your Email List Clean

Does it feel like your emails are bypassing the inbox completely and setting up camp in spam folders? It might be time to purge your email list of addresses that have bounced or haven’t opened in a while. Internet Service Providers (like Xfinity or AT&T) monitor engagement and use those metrics to “train” their spam filters. If you have a list made up of a lot of unengaged subscribers (people who rarely or never open), it can affect your account’s reputation with ISPs and get you caught in that dreaded spam filter. When it comes to email lists, quality is better than quantity; it’s better to have a smaller, healthier list than a larger list with unengaged subscribers.   

Remember, these are all best practices and rules of thumb. Use them as a baseline to test and tweak your way into learning what’s most effective for your specific business and audience. 

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