Last November we discussed how a newsletter can help your e-business. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the subject, and in particular, the open rate for your newsletter.

This rate represents the number of recipients who open your newsletter. It is calculated in the following way:

(Messages opened / messages sent or delivered) * 100.

This is a useful calculation for analysing your statistics and coming up with ideas for your next newsletters. There are quite a few tips around on how to improve your open rate, here are a few of them:

1. Think about timing

a) When should you send your newsletter?

You should send your newsletter at a time when your readership is most likely to take time to read it. The best way to find out the ideal moment is to test your newsletter on different days and different times of day. That way you can compare the open rates, opting for the day and time with the best response. Another possibility is to check out the Journal du Net1 – they have a method for analysing the best delivery days depending on your activity:

Florent Bertiaux’s blog provides a good infographic about optimal delivery times:

Infographic on Florent Bertiaux’s blog

b) Be consistent!

When you have decided on a day and time of delivery for your newsletter, stick to it! Being regular is habit-forming for your readers. They’ll expect to receive the newsletter every Tuesday morning for example, and will look forward to it. This will also increase customer loyalty.

2. Consider your subject and sender name

When an internet user receives an email, before opening it he looks at two things: the subject and the name of the sender. So think carefully about these if you want to increase your newsletter’s open rate.

a) Choose an intriguing subject…and keep it short and sweet!

According to a 2011 study by the SNCD2, the n°1 reason internet users subscribe to a newsletter is to receive information about special offers. In this case, you have several options: mention the discount offer contained in the email in the subject line, or mention free shipping and handling or even a free sample.

If you don’t have a special offer, the subject line of your email can be used to hint at the content. Your readers should feel like the subject is directed at them and their interests. Provoke their curiosity. Awaken their interest with exclamation points, questions, calls to action, etc.

Pay attention to the length of your subject line. A subject line that is too long won’t get read, a subject that is too short runs the risk of being misunderstood. As a rule of thumb, a subject line contains an average of 46 characters, and the best open rates are linked to titles of 20 to 30 characters. (Source: Sarbacane Software3, 2010).

b) Reassure your readers with a sender name

Personalise the sender name! The name “Cécile de Rostand” has surely more impact than “PrivateSale_email.” This will have a positive impact on your open rate by reassuring your readers. They’ll understand that this isn’t spam. And a real person’s name will help strengthen your relationship with your readers: they’ll be able to identify the individual behind the newsletters.

3. Consider the frequency of your newsletters!

According to Jean- Nicolas Reyt4, 77% of internet users unsubscribe to newsletters they receive too often. Clearly the frequency of your emailing plays an important role! The frequency will depend upon your business. To avoid unsubscribers, some companies suggest that their clients/subscribers don’t sign up for a daily newsletter, but subscribe to the weekly recap instead. This is a good way to avoid losing contacts by adapting to their reading level.

However, keep in mind that you’ll likely have other emails going out (like sales or event emails). Take care not to bombard your readers!

Finally, don’t forget that a newsletter which only comes now and then can have the same effect: your subscribers might forget you exist!

These tips can help you improve the open rate of your newsletter. But it doesn’t stop there: after you’ve persuaded your readers to open your email, you’ll need to encourage them to click on a link to redirect them to your E-shop. And that’s the subject of our next article…

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