7 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rates May Be So Low

7-Reasons-Email-Fail_GP 7 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rates May Be So Low You’ve been sending emails to help increase branding and website traffic for months – maybe longer – and you’re just not seeing the kind of open rates you’d like. But, you don’t know what to do to increase them.

Here are seven reasons why they may be low and the solution for each.

  1. Your list may be bad/outdated. If you purchased a list, double check the email addresses for accuracy. Purchased lists are very unreliable and are not something we would recommend; but if you did, double check all emails before using them. Email-checker.net is a free tool you can use to verify email addresses.
  2. The list is not segmented. A non-segmented list will have a lower open rate than a segmented list. Check the open rates on your main email list to see who is opening them; then, put those emails in a VIP list. Those who are opening the emails are your most important people. Either create a segmented list within the main list, or create a new VIP list. Then, when you send to that list, the open rate will be much higher because it’s a list of people who want to receive what you’re sending.
  3. Bounce rates are disproportionately high. If hard and soft bounces are high they may cause low open rates. Review each email’s send analytics for bounces – both hard (bad email) and soft (email service issue) – to help determine why you’re getting a low open rate. Remove the hard bounces from the list, but capture them first so you can reference them in the future if needed. Also, if there is a disproportionately high number of bounces, a couple things may happen –first, your email service provider may send you a warning about spam; and second, you may need to create an email sign-up marketing campaign to gain new email addresses, which may take months to be effective.
  4. Subject lines are crucial. Are you using engaging subject lines that encourage opens? If not, consider changing your subject line methodology, such as keeping subject lines short (<65 characters or 5 to 7 words); avoid spam-triggering words like “free” or “buy now;” increase the use of questions in subject lines; leverage time-sensitive terms like “time is running out” or “registration openings are going fast;” consider using a call to action in the subject line; localized and personalized subject lines do pretty well; include keywords in the subject line so readers’ know what they are getting; and use numbers (odd numbers do better than even numbers) when offering a list subject line, such as “7 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rates May Be So Low.”
  5. Where is your email coming from? The “From” email address could toss it into spam (if coming from Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, etc.), which will decrease open rates. Instead, use a real domain on your email address. If you don’t want to buy one, use an email forwarding program that allows you to create an email with your domain name, that forwards to your real email address. Search for the instructions from your current email provider to find out if that is an option.
  6. Time and day matter. The day of week and time of day could be a factor when it comes to open rates. According to CoSchedule, the best day of week to send email is Tuesday, Thursday, and then Wednesday. The same study stated that the best time of day to send is 10:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and then 6:00 a.m. Scheduling emails to be distributed on those days and times is a great way to test open rates. First, segment your list into three parts. Then, send the same email to one list group on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.; to the next group on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.; and to the final group on Wednesday at 6:00 a.m.; finally, monitor the findings and determine your plan of action.
  7. Are you boring? Last, but not least, if people are bored by the content that’s being sent, they may just stop opening your email. Maybe you buy canned content and it’s writing is grammatically correct, but is just a snooze-fest to digest. Consider your reader before sending your next email. Are you writing to them in a way that engages them? Are you using language that might entice them to keep reading and click to your blog? Do you have an interesting story to tell that can be continued on your website? Step back and take a look at your emails to see just how your clients may be interpreting them. You might even ask your VIPs how you could improve your email efforts to be more relevant.

Bonus Tip: Check your image file names and meta data because you might be causing your email to go right into a spam filter without even knowing it. For example, if you’re using stock images, the files names may be something cryptic like akdu19807.jpg even though it’s an image of a tax form. After downloading the image, change the file name to something that is descriptive about that file, e.g., Tax-Form-1099.jpg. Use the image with the new file name in your email. Also add the alt tag to the image once inserted into your email program. The alt tag is what shows up when someone hovers over the image or appears if they have the graphics featured turned off on their computer or mobile device.

Now that you’re armed with several solutions to help alleviate your email open rate problem, which will you begin implementing and testing to increase your open rates?

Join our email list to get tips like these once a month in your mailbox.

Additional Resources


Disclaimer: This post originally appeared in the CPA Client Bulletin Resource Guide, © 2017, AICPA. Reprinted by permission.