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Your Complete Guide on How to Increase Email Open Rates

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Your Complete Guide on How to Increase Email Open Rates


When was the last time you took a look at your email open rates? I hope the answer is ‘recently’. Your email marketing campaigns can only be so effective if they are actually getting opened in the first place.

How can you measure the success and effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns? One of the best KPIs to take a look at is your open rates. This is the amount of people who are receiving and then opening the emails that you’re sending out.

Some email marketers will only look at their click through rates, the amount of time the link you’ve provided in the email is clicked on by the recipient. But keep in mind, you can’t have one without the other. Sometimes, open rates will get overlooked because CTR seems more desirable, but for a recipient to click the link provided they first need to open the email.

There are a lot of opinions and options about how to increase your email open rates, but we first need to take a look at the facts then come to a conclusion.

Just because 72% of people say they prefer to be contacted via email, doesn’t mean they will open yours.

Let’s get started. Here’s a complete guide to getting better email open rates, and better ROI.

1. Keep Your List Fresh and Up to Date

Quick questions, do your subscribers even want to hear from you? It sounds a bit harsh, but this is a rational question to ask yourself.

You have probably heard that it’s important to email your subscribers on a consistent basis so they don’t forget about you. But even so, over time your subscribers can go stale. Some people may have changed their email address, or aren’t interested in your brand anymore.

So to keep your list fresh and filled with engaged subscribers who actually want to hear from you, it’s a great idea to periodically remove inactive subscribers. It actually benefits you even more in the long run.

As a rule of thumb, an inactive subscriber could be anyone who has not engaged with one of your emails in the past 6 months or so. Do them, and yourself, a favor and take them off your list. BUT, before doing so, there are a couple steps you can take to try and re-engage your recipients.

Try your hand at a win back email campaign.

A win back email marketing campaign consists of a short and sweet message to remind your recipients why they subscribed in the first place. This is like your ‘hail mary’ before removing them from your list.

A smart winback email subject line will (ideally) hook your readers and inspire them to hear you out and check out what’s inside. The best subject lines are those that are personalized and that suggest you’re speaking directly to that customer.  

One way to get a customer’s attention is to offer a discount or include an incentive for buying your product or service again. Try experimenting with the timing of your offer so it has a sense of urgency. Alternatively,  you can focus just on promoting new products or best sellers, also include social proof in order to revive customers to buy from you again. This is also a great place to address any issues that may have happened in the past and how you’ve remedied them, and include a direct line to the customer service.

Keep Your List Clean

Having a fresh and clean list also helps you understand your customers better by looking at specific KPIs , ensures email viability, and helps avoid the dreaded high churn rates. The best way to maintain a clean and viable email list is by running it through Emailable. It’s as simple as importing your lists, verifying your data and analyzing your results in a matter of minutes. This is list cleaning made simple. One of the best ways to increase open rates is by ensuring that your email list is clean. When your lists are sent to proper recipients it improves your chances of being opened as well as your sender reputation score.

2. Segment Your Lists

Start by segmenting your email lists. Segmentation is dividing your email list into specific categories based on your customers.

You can segment your list by looking at the parts of your list that your subscribers don’t engage with, and put them in a different list to receive emails less often. By doing so, you are able to minimize the risk of your subscribers clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ button or ‘mark as spam’. This also increases the likelihood of them opening your emails.

Have you seen a chunk of subscribers who haven’t clicked on your emails in months? You will have more luck reminding them of your product or service by using a re-engagement email campaign (as we mentioned above). If successful, you will have a revitalized email group where they are more likely to engage than the rest of your list. If not, you should consider removing them from your list entirely because they aren’t contributing to your email marketing campaign and provide a bigger threat to your sender reputation.

By segmenting your list you are making sure that the information you are providing your customers is something that they are genuinely interested in. This not only helps improve personalization but also helps form a better foundation of trust. Your customers will then start to notice that your emails provide value to them and will know it’s not a waste of their time to open.

The actual segments that you choose will be based on your company and its products or services and what type of email you’re sending and what the desired action is. Some examples of list segments:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Buyer Persona
  • Area of Interest
  • Product

Segmenting your lists will help further personalize your lists and increase relevance for your recipients. Relevance is one of the most important factors that will help you retain and nurture your existing customers.

Understand the distinct groups of people that make up your list. Segmentation is about understanding the needs of your customers and having an open form of communication with them.

3. Stay Away From Spam Traps

Once an email is marked as spam, there is little to no hope that it’s getting opened. So you need to proceed with caution when writing and sending out your emails, to make sure you avoid the spam trap.

IPS will block unwanted or seemingly spam messages to prevent recipients from receiving unnecessary junk in their inboxes so they can focus on their more important or time-sensitive emails.

The sender reputation score serves as a protective barrier from inboxes becoming cluttered with unwanted emails. This process is carried out by an algorithmic analysis, with zero invasion of an email’s privacy or personal information. After the continuous verification that automatically occurs, the IPS provider sets the sender’s score, and if it happens to be low, then your message may end up in the spam folder.

There a three categories of spam:

  • Recycled Spam Trap: these are email addresses that were valid at one point in time but have been unused for such a long time that they could not have engaged with any email in a long time. Messages sent to these addresses are typically refused (AKA they bounce) by receiving the server for a year or more before they are reactivated as spam trap addresses.  
  • Typo Traps: These are addresses that usually end up on a recipient list because of a mistake. This could happen by typing “[email protected]” instead of “[email protected]”. Similar to recycled spam traps, these addresses will never open or click any of the messages they receive. Some believe that by sending an excessive amount of mail to typo traps, it will result in poor list acquisition and poor list hygiene (which they are right).
  • Pristine Traps: These are the email addresses that have never been used to actively sign up to receive an email. These are most commonly found on mailing lists when senders purchase, rent or scrape addresses.

The best way to avoid spam traps is to make sure you’re in accordance with the CAN SPAM Act, as well as taking into account what the content of your email is saying. When you’re clear from any spam traps, this helps increase your open rates because the emails are actually getting delivered to the right inboxes.

The Grand Finale

The main take away from this article should be that the best way to increase your email open rates is by keeping a fresh and healthy email list, segmenting your email list, and avoiding as many spam traps as possible. As the saying goes, a little goes a long way. When you take these steps into consideration you’re helping the chances of increasing your open rates because you’re sending to the right recipients, you are personalizing their messages, and making sure that your hard work is getting delivered to the desired inboxes.



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MARKETING

State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MARKETING

MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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