Email marketing – How I increased my open rate by 22%!


…but I needed to be smart to make it happen.

Back in November 2011 the headline writers went crazy as they reported Mark Zuckerberg telling the world that email was over (just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock he’s the creator of Facebook). What he actually said, at the launch of his own new messaging system, was that he didn’t think a modern messaging system was going to be email but that doesn’t make for the same eye-catching headlines.

In reality, we’re still using email with 3.1 billion email accounts in use in 2011, predicted to rise to 4.1 billion by 2015. And it’s not just for internal communications; it’s still a viable marketing tool.

In my business, I’m always talking about the “Passive Candidate”, the candidates that need tempting and persuading to look at fresh roles, and I use email marketing as a way to start those relationships – creating interest in our jobs, promoting our business and engaging people with our newsletters.

Stats show that email marketing campaigns or e-shots still have a high ROI (Return On Investment) running at around 43%, sitting just behind “Paid Search” which runs at 52% and “Organic SEO” at 49% and miles above offline media, public relations and exhibitions. We also know that those receiving my email campaigns know other people in their field and to date we hit a 20% success rate on referrals and an extra 22% on open rates.

My success with email marketing is simply down to experience. I’ve always been creative with the copy but over time I’ve also learnt how to get the most out of each email I send and I thought I’d share some of that knowledge with you.

Whether you want to use email marketing to promote your business or send out your next newsletter, here are my top 12 tips: 

  • Get permission

Email marketing is very powerful but can also be very dangerous, it’s critical that you have explicit permission. When someone signs up for one of our job seeker accounts or simply for my “Newsletter” we “Double Opt” them in, a simple confirmation email confirming they’ve signed up. 

  • Get recognised

Ask your recipient to add your campaign email address to their email address book, this will keep your email out of their spam filters.

  • Make unsubscribe easy to find

Chris Penn takes it to the extreme, using a massive banner on his email newsletter for his unsubscribe link. You don’t have to go that far but don’t hide it away and don’t be afraid of losing your subscribers – you’re better off with a smaller list of people you know really want to hear from you.

  • Make it personal

Try and personalise your emails as much as possible. Everyone uses “name”, so try and use tactics like “location” or other demo/geographic factors in your headings. You can increase both your reading and click-thru rates by over 500% in this way.

  • Keep it simple

We all love beautiful design, but embedding text into pictures is a no go. Use internet happy fonts and keep your pictures separate, making sure to include interesting ALT tags in case the images are blocked.

  • Make sure it gets delivered!

Because filters often block logos, graphics and Flash animation, they can determine whether or not your intended recipient even sees your message. I recently found a great little part fix for this from Anna over at Style Campaign. They’ve created an app that allows you to turn graphics like your visual heading or your logo into HTML so bypassing some of the problem. You can find out more about the app on her website or download it for free by signing up for her newsletter.

  • Make it easy

Make sure you provide a link to view the email online instead. Some people just feel happier clicking a link than downloading images.

  • Be Consistent, On Time and Every Time.

This is your chance to reinforce your brand so keep the look and feel consistent. Always make sure that it’s sent on the same day, at the same time. Your subscribers will come to expect your email and generally, they’ll be more receptive.

  • Get their attention

When your email arrives you have a split second to gain the reader’s attention before they hit the delete button, so the subject line is all important. Do some testing to see what works for you. Some of the best ones are: Direct versus General like “Come to our Coffee Morning on January 12” or General “A Coffee to start the day” interestingly the second will probably get more opens. You could try Urgency, adding a due date or expiration date like “Only 6 more places left on the Tuscany tour!” and compare it against a date-less one, like “Latest deals to Tuscany”.

  • Make it clear

Create a clear call to action in every campaign and make those links obvious, put them to the right or left of any images, never underneath.

  • Stats, stats, stats!

You really can’t get enough of them. You should know who is clicking on your call to action, when they are viewing your e-shot and if they are even getting through. It’s crucial to any campaign and really easy to do using tools like Google Analytics.

  • Share and share alike

Include all your social media links and “refer a friend” options. The chances are, if the recipient is interested in what you say, they’ll know someone else that is too.

So that’s it, I hope it helps, and if you haven’t already, please sign up for my newsletter at the top of this blog, I promise to use all of the above!

Mark Bevans image [iPod Photo]

Guest Post by Mark Bevans, that’s me… I’m an Employer Branding, Candidate Marketing Communication and Talent Acquisition Director. How did I get here? From 22 years working in recruitment. 6 of those driving online recruitment for a major plc recruiter. I now spend my time empowering businesses in all I know. I’m passionate about digital innovation and communication and I’ve written, blogged and spoken extensively on the future of recruitment and social media. Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter