Over the years, despite the barrage of junk mail, spam and special offer promotions that our inboxes are bombarded with on a daily basis, email marketing still occupies an important place in your digital marketing mix and as such, should not be ignored when trying to generate new business or up sell products to existing clients.

Email marketing can be used to communicate information about new services with your existing clients, you can execute mail-shot press releases to interested stakeholders and you can use email marketing to launch promotions to prospective clients getting them to step onto the first step of your sales pipeline.

The majority of small businesses favour the use of email marketing because of its low cost, historic return on investment and convenience. However, this has resulted in not only clogging up the in-boxes of most prospective clients but also all but a few messages are deleted without being read. It seems that email marketing has become the victim of its own success.

A recent digital marketing survey revealed an average open rate of less than 20% for SME marketing emails. An open rate is intended to show the number of people who actually opened your email and looked at it. If it isn’t opened, it will never be read and you won’t get a chance to convey your message to your target audience.

The challenge for email marketing in 2013 therefore is to create email messages that stand out among the clutter in your target audience’s inboxes and that get opened, read and acted upon. The key to success with email marketing is increasing the open rate of your messages.

How to increase your email’s open rate?

The key strategy to monitor the open rate of your email campaign is testing and to compare the open rates between a variety of messages. If it increases, you know a certain strategy has worked. If it decreases, then you know there is a problem and you adjust your strategy through further trial and testing.

There are three elements of an email marketing campaign which you have control over which can help you increase your open rate. They are: the ‘from’ field, the subject line field, the time that your email is sent out.

The ‘From’ field

We recommend customising the ‘from’ field so that you email grabs the maximum possible attention from your target audience. Rather than just inserting your company name in this field try and add on a few adjectives that tells the reader what your company does or better still, which gives them an incentive to open up your email.

The Subject line field

When composing your subject line, invoke the marketing acronym AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action). Your email subject line needs to grab attention and incite the recipient’s interest to open up the email.

We suggest keeping your subject line short & snappy, make your point in as few words as possible so that it really packs a punch and GRABS attention.

If your email marketing software allows you to, personalise the email subject line. Using the name of the recipient almost doubles the likelihood of them opening the email.

We suggest doing some A-B-C testing for a single mail shot, trying different subject lines will enable you to see what works best and provides optimal results. You may like to try different subject lines for different demographics or segments in your audience.