If you are growing your email marketing list (and you are, right?), you have to make sure you're monitoring and adjusting your efforts to maximize open and click-through rates. If not, you're wasting sends. You're falling on deaf ears. You can't nurture a lead that doesn't read what you send them for one of many reasons.
If you want to improve email open rates keep reading...
1 - Who is the "Sender" of your emails?
Question. When you receive an email from someone you know or another human being, are you likely to at least open it? I'm going to bet you said yes, with varying degrees of importance. Someone you know or recognize may yield a quicker open than a stranger.
How about when you receive an email from a brand? Are you likely to open that? What level of urgency? I'm not talking about order update emails or responses to a request for information. I'm talking about emails from brands that you are expecting to receive.
All of that being said, what name comes through when you send email marketing messages through a platform like MailChimp? Most commonly the sender's name is your company name. Sometimes it's even a name like "Your Company News". How would you feel if you were in your email recipients' position? I bet you'd place fairly low priority on opening the email.
A better strategy would be to change the sender's name to someone in your sales or marketing department. Your list would rather receive an email from Joe Smith than "Your Company". It's much more personal and incites a bit more curiosity.
2 - Is your subject worth digging deeper into?
Most small businesses send emails with highly salesy subjects. "Why you need this or that". How much do you want to open these emails? Unless you're already a big fan of this company, chances are you aren't going to dive into the email as soon as possible. What if the subject was more personal and more oriented to the goals of it's recipient?
For example, what if the subject was more along the lines of "[First Name] [Last Name], Quick heads up!"? For starters, it doesn't look look salesy. Additionally, it includes the recipient's name. It's highly personalized. The content in your email had better provide value, but at least it's more likely to get opened.
The bottom line here is that your subject should take as much of your time as the content in your email. The content means nothing if the subject doesn't sell the need to open.
3 - Are all of your emails graphic-filled billboards surrounded by text?
How often do your business associates send you highly designed emails with lots of graphics? Never! Same goes with personalized emails, even from vendors. I'm not saying that designed emails are always a bad idea. In fact, having CTAs and a consistent aesthetic will greatly improve your effectiveness at email marketing once your list is more familiar with you.
The question though is how you feel when you are mass marketed to versus when you receive a personalized email? Mass email campaigns tend to look like generic, drag-net attempts at getting in front of leads. What if you established a segment in your list to track newcomers? I bet they'd rather feel like they are getting a personalized message from you instead of a mass mail campaign.
Why not send them a written email that spares all the fancy branding and graphics? It might just pull the new lead in by giving them a more personal experience. It doesn't give the appearance of a sales or marketing email either. It just appears like an email from a friend.
If They Don't Open It, You Aren't Nurturing Your Leads
The bottom line here is that you put a lot of time and effort into your email marketing messages. You surly don't want to waste to waste that effort. You need to test and do whatever you can to increase the percentage of leads that open your emails.