Low Open Rates? Check Some Reasons Why

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Avatar for Fernanda Moura Fernanda Moura

July 12, 2022

3 min read

Low Open Rates? Check Some Reasons Why

Do you know how many of your subscribers are opening your marketing emails? Email open rate is defined by the division of the number of subscribers who opened your email by the number of subscribers to the email that was sent.

According to the 2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks Report, the average email open rate was 21.5%, across all industries in 2021. I know this number might not sound very encouraging, especially if your business relies directly on email marketing to generate results. That’s why is crucial to understand the reasons behind the low number of open email rates. Without further ado, let’s talk about some of them.

Most common reasons for low open rates

Bad subject

According to Earth Web, over 333 billion emails are sent daily. The last thing you want is for your email to go unnoticed amid this whirlwind of information. And because the first thing that catches the eyes of your recipients is the subject, it’s indispensable to make it stand out.

The subject is a summary of your email content, so you should consider creating the subject line after you composed the email body. And don’t forget to use concise words and be as straightforward as possible. Depending on your type of business, you can even use some humorous artifice to turn the email more attractive. Use your creativity and don’t let the sky be the limit.

Getting off on the wrong foot

I don’t know about you, but I always peek at the first words of the email, just to make sure I’m not just being deceived by some cool subject line. Todd Caponi, the author of the book The Transparency Sale, explains that your subconscious brain scans each phrase and can decide instantly if you’re going to open that email or not based on their 10 words preview.

That is why is so important to optimize those first words. Emails starting with phrases like “I wanted”, “I was just wondering” and “We need” can lower the level of engagement with the audience. A good tip is to start your email using words that have more to do with the recipient than with you or your business.

Spam trigger words

Spam triggers are words or expressions that email service providers see as red flags. According to Mailmeteor, most spam keywords fall into one of these 5 main types of spam words:

  • Urgency: Words that pressure your recipients, such as ‘Urgent’ or ‘Before it’s too late'
  • Shady: Unethical or legally questionable words
  • Overpromise: Exaggerated claims such as ‘100% free’ or ‘the best’
  • Money: Things related to money in general, such as ‘$$$’ or ‘Earn cash’
  • Unnatural: Words or phrases that don’t feel natural such as ‘Dear friend’ or that are difficult to understand, such as multi-level marketing.

Not personal enough

I’m not talking about just adding the subscriber’s name in the subject, that’s because surprisingly that technique has shown lower open rates results, according to Email Marketing Benchmarks by Get Response. Their report shows that in 2021 the open rate for emails containing personalized subject lines was nearly 19% while non-personalized reached 22%. So, if you want to increase your open rates, you should go beyond basic techniques and your email content and subject more relevant and or helpful.

High frequency of emails

It’s not easy to define how many emails are considered too much and will lead to an unsubscribe reaction. What you can do is pay closer attention to your marketing metrics, run tests, and see the subscriber’s reactions as well as invest in the email content, after all, your subscriber will open your emails if they add value for them.

Lack of Test A/B

Now that you know the best practices to optimize your email, it’s time to test which of them are going to better engage your subscribers. By creating two different versions of your email marketing, and measuring which one has the higher open rate, you’ll be more assertive in your strategy and therefore increase your open rate.

Your email may not be reaching the inbox

But what good does all the effort you put into your email do if it is not even reaching your audience’s inbox in the first place? There are a lot of reasons why your email is going straight to spam, it can be related to your domain’s reputation, the use of text and images that trigger spam filters, your domain may have been blacklisted by some servers, and so on.

Luckily, you can check your performance and get blacklist reports with solutions like Deliverability. After all, successful deliverability leads to successful open rates.

Wrapping it up

The more customer-focused your emails are, the greater your chances of them being opened by your subscribers. So, make your campaign about them and how your business can help to solve their problems. Run an A/B test to see what works best for your audience.

It is far-reaching that you’re aware of your reputation among different servers as well as blacklist reports, so you can finally optimize your strategies and reach the subscriber’s inbox and therefore increase your open rates.

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