Is my open and click through rate any good?
This is one of our most frequently asked questions and there isn’t really a quick or easy answer!
There are a number of things that will have an impact on your open and click through rates, so we thought we would cover the topic in depth for you along with suggestions on how to improve the rates you are achieving.
Calculation of open rates via NewZapp
Most email service providers will determine your open rate in the same way.
NewZapp will determine an open by receiving a reaction to our server. This is when the recipient server calls for the images or the subscriber follows a link. One of these actions must be taken for an open to register.
Don't forget there may be instances when we can't tell you for certain that an email has been opened, as some of your subscribers will be viewing your email as text only and/or with images turned off.
If there isn't a strong call to action link or encouragement to download images, then they may read your email but not take any 'trackable' action - and this could affect your open rate. Bear this in mind when building your campaign. What action do you want your subscriber to take?
Now you need to define ‘good’.
This isn’t so easy. Whenever you start a new marketing campaign you should have clear targets and goals in mind. Once you have identified your goals you will have a better understanding of how your campaigns are performing.
Calculating the success of your email campaigns
There are a number of considerations that you need to be aware of when calculating the success of your email campaigns, as they will have a direct impact on your results.
So here’s a check list of questions you should start with, before you judge your campaigns.
1. Are you sending to Business to Business (B2B) subscribers or Business to Consumer (B2C) subscribers?
Most free online email clients (web mail) such as Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo Mail, will block images as standard unless your email address has been white-listed.
So one of the best ways forward with B2C subscribers is to include a text link to an online version of your email so subscribers who aren't comfortable with clicking to download images can click this link instead to your campaign in full. By following this link the NewZapp system can then determine that the email has been opened and clicked.
B2B emails are also likely to have images set to not display, which are the default settings in business email clients such as Outlook or Lotus Notes for example. However, subscribers are happier to download images if you give them a good reason. Make sure you have a good balance of images to text and make sure any links in images are replicated with the same links on real text. This will help your subscribers make the choice to either download the images to see your email correctly, or just follow the text links regardless.
2. When did you send?
Think about who you’re sending to, what you’re sending, and when would be the optimum day and time for your subscribers to open your email.
The best times to send for B2B are:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at between 10-11am and 2-5pm are still thought of as the favourites. Although the office environment can be fast paced, if your email is targeted and relevant then these are the best time to catch your subscribers' attention. Avoid times like 9am Monday morning and Fridays afternoons. These are the most likely times for your email to get deleted.
The best times for B2C are:
With the rapid increase in the use of email on mobile devices, it's now true that your B2C subscribers could open your email at any time, and the "no-no" times of the past are not as relevent. But even if they can open your email at just about anytime, think about the time when you think they will be most receptive. Lunchtimes are still going to be a good time for consumers who are working, and open to payday and impulse buys - but consider evenings as a time when they may be more relaxed with time to browse and buy.
The key to timing your send is to have your email in an inbox, with the subscriber having the time to read it and without it being amongst loads of other emails that may be more important. As always with these things, this will be unique to your database, so test out different strategies and make the most of email scheduling in NewZapp (so that you're not having to work in the evenings!).
4. Subject line, from name and from email address
This will have more impact than you think. If you receive an email from a source you don’t recognise with FREE SHIPPING TODAY in the subject line, would you open it?
Be honest. If you're selling something or providing a special offer, say so. You wouldn’t be happy having opened an email promoted as a newsletter to find it’s a sales email. You would be far more likely to unsubscribe before deleting this email. This comes down to the building and meeting of expectations.
Don’t shout. Consecutive capital letters is the equivalent of shouting at someone. This can be seen as rude and will likely put your email in the junk folder anyway. Also try to avoid consecutive exclamation marks and question marks for the same reason. We would recommend following this best practice in the content of your email as well as your subject line.
Do as much as you can here to reiterate who you are. Use your brand name and use a personal touch here if you can. Would you be more inclined to open an email from 'NewZapp', or from 'John at NewZapp Email Marketing'?
From email address
It’s very reassuring to your subscribers to have a real person available if they want to hit reply. Whether you do or not, we would recommend that you have a ‘real person’s’ email address as your 'from' email address. Whatever you do, make sure it’s an inbox that you can check on a regular basis, particularly when you’ve just sent a campaign. That way when your subscribers hit the reply button you can respond appropriately.
5. Is this your first send?
If this is your first send, then your results could be dramatically different to what might be considered the norm. It could swing either way, either everyone will open it as they’re curious about receiving email they've not had from you before - or your subscribers will be suspicious about your email and very few of them will actually open it.
You need to start to build trust and manage the expectations of your subscribers to get the best results, which brings us back to the previous points about choosing your subject line and from name - don't waste the chance of making a good first impression.
6. Are your subscribers expecting your email?
The best way to encourage an open from your subscribers is to tell them what to expect and meet that expectation as early as possible.
For example, if you have gathered the subscriber data from an online sign up form, then send them an email as soon as you can with a thank you and a breakdown of what the subscriber can expect from you and how often.
If you have gather subscriber data from personal contact - e.g. a business card from a meeting or event, then at the point of taking the card, tell them you will be following up so they expect an email from you. Again include a breakdown of what they can expect from you and how often, to set their expectations.
Stick to this, this is where you start to build trust.
7. Are you already in regular contact with your subscribers?
If you already have a database of email address this is not as easy. We would recommend an initial email with the above mentioned breakdown, however sometimes that is not possible.
If you have already been in regular contact with your database for some time, then the likelihood is that a core of your database open your emails and click every time. This is great, however there’s always room to improve. The next points can help you achieve higher open and click through rates.
Is the campaign targeted?
You should now be looking to target your emails more effectively to your database. One common segmentation would be to separate your existing customers and your potential customers. You may not wish to offer the same deal to a potential customer that you would to an existing customer and you might "speak" to them with a different tone.
Everyone wants to be treated as an individual and a blanket email with the same offer could make some of your subscribers become ‘inactive’ if they already have this product. Worse case scenario, they stop opening your emails and unsubscribe as the email isn’t relevant.
Is the content targeted?
This is different to campaign targeting and gets a little more in-depth. Moving beyond tone this is where you could really start to personalise your content for your database segments and increase the relevancy.
For example, you purchase a new printer from an office supplies company. They then send you a thank you email with some details of ink cartridges, and set the expectation of a newsletter once a month. Fabulous.
The following month would you rather receive details on good paper that go specifically with your new printer? Or that blanket email offering that nice shiny new printer you already bought, but at a cheaper discounted price?
Is the content relevant?
The more relevant your email is, the more likely you are to increase your open and click through rates. Remember to add value. This doesn’t have to be monetary value - don’t offer discounts with every email or these will lose their value. Instead find a way to make your email a valuable part of your subscriber’s day. Become an industry expert, update with relevant news and you could even feature guest authors. Make your email a communication that is looked forward to and your statistics will inevitably go up.
The golden rule
As always, the golden rule is to test everything. Every campaign, to every database, in every industry, is unique. What works for someone else may not work for you so test, test, test.
We’d also recommend that you take a good look at your last campaign and use those rates as your starting point. No matter how good or bad they are, this is the benchmark for you. Don’t forget, there’s always room to improve.
The Direct Marketing Association publish quarterly benchmark reports on this. You can find a copy of these on their website.