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Why don’t more people open my franchise’s emails? (And how to change that…)

Email Open

For those of us that are familiar with the world of email marketing, you’ll know that the question posed in the title of this post is one that you ask yourself quite frequently. No matter how successful your email campaigns are, you always want to know how to reach more people on your list.

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending your time crafting the perfect email, only to be told that only 6% of the people you sent it to even opened it. (6% is not meant to be an anchor, rather it serves as a random number. You may be disappointed with a 35% open rate for all I know.)

Toward the end of this post, I’ll offer some suggestions for how to raise your open rate, but before I do, I want to walk through the three parties responsible for determining your open rate (Other than you!)

1 – The Email Service Provider

The first party responsible for determining your open rate is the technology platform you use to actually send your emails. If you’re doing mass marketing, you may find yourself using a platform like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or RedCappi. If you’re using marketing automation, it may be Hubspot, Marketo, or Pardot. And if you’re sophisticated, you may have your own system that sits on top of send technology like Mandrill or SendGrid.

Either way, this service is responsible for your email sending reputation. As you send your thousands if not millions of emails, these guys have to make sure that you’re playing by the rules. If you are participating in spammy behavior, then the inboxes are going to blame these guys. Most likely, these ESPs are good at their job, so you don’t have much to worry about here. However, if they develop a bad reputation on your behalf, it can be tough to recover from. Whoever you use, it's important to follow their rules. Because they're responsible for sending billions of emails, they're going to be experts in what you need to do to get emails into your subscribers' inboxes.


2 – The Mailbox Provider of Your Subscribers

The second party responsible for determining your open rate is the inbox provider that your subscribers use to receive and organize their email. Professionally, the platform of choice is usually Outlook or LotusNotes. Older personal inboxes are the likes of AOL, Verizon, Hotmail, and others. And more recently, personal inboxes are dominated by Yahoo and Google.

No matter what it is, these guys are responsible for making sure that your content gets in front of your subscribers in the format that you are expecting. These are the people that decide whether you go to the spam folder or not (Or promotions in Gmail’s case.) Also, your images are only displayed if these guys decide they are.

All of these things are going to be determined from a number of signals that these companies are looking for to determine how spammy you are:

  • Spam Reports
  • Opens
  • Clicks
  • Unsubscribes / Blocks
  • Time a user spends reading your email
  • Uniqueness of content
  • Subject line content
  • Etc.

While you never know where you stand in their eyes, sometimes they will publish some hints on what you should do to increase your open rates.

3 – Your Subscribers

The final party responsible for your open rates are the subscribers who you are actually sending the emails to.

Understanding what your subscribers want to hear from you will lead to them wanting more, the holy grail of email marketing. Imagine being able to say to your boss that the more emails that you send, the higher the open rates get!

(One could only hope…)

While that outcome is unlikely, you do want to work on crafting an email strategy that causes subscribers to like receiving the emails or, said another way, not hate your emails.

But ultimately, as franchises, there’s a problem. You’re promoting something that is irrelevant to well over 99% of the list you’re sending to. Nearly no one on your list is going to open one of your franchises.

So you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Uh oh.

Now that I’ve perhaps scared you into thinking that your open rate is going to go to zero, here are some things that you may consider to keep your open rates high and make them go higher:

  • Read my post "I Sent 25,783,700 franchise emails in 2014. Here’s What I Learned."Ok. A little self-promotional, but in there, I speak about all the different things that we've done to hone our marketing strategy over the past year plus.
  • Add new email subscribers regularly. Engagement with emails suffers from a pretty severe decay curve. In other words, people will open your emails less and less often, the longer they’re on your list. So, by adding new people to your regularly, you are growing both the total number of people receiving the emails and the percentage of people who open them.
  • Clean your list occasionally. Since inboxes are looking to see who engages with your emails, it really doesn’t pay to send emails to people who never open. Most ESPs will allow you to segment your list into people who haven’t opened recent emails. If subscribers haven’t opened or clicked an email in the past 6 months, it’s probably time to take them off the list.
  • Put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes. Would you want to receive the email that you’re about to send? (Probably not.) Is there something quick you can do to make it better? (Probably.)
  • Have patience. Take a look at this chart:
FranchiseHelp Email Open Rates 2/14 - 6/15

That’s a graph of every single open rate for FranchiseHelp over the past 16 months (when we started focusing more intently on our email strategy.) As you can see, this is not an overnight activity. It’s taken over 16 months to move our open rates 75-100% higher. If you work to improve your open rates, you will also see success. But have patience because this stuff doesn’t happen overnight.

If you want to know more about how we use emails to get leads for our clients, shoot us a note.

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