How to get on the good side of email service providers and increase your email open rate

How to get on the good side of email service providers and increase your email open rate
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Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your audience and sell products. Your email list belongs to you, and there is no algorithm controlling how often your subscribers see you on their feeds. However, even email service providers have rules to prevent “spam” accounts from taking over people’s inboxes. And those rules can also sometimes get in the way of online entrepreneurs reaching their audiences via email.

If your email marketing campaigns haven’t been bringing in the results you desire, it might be a perfect time to look closely at emails you’re sending and work to increase your email open rate.

Back to basics: What is an email open rate?

To put it simply, an email open rate is a data metric that shows which portion of your email list opened your last email. You can calculate your email open rate with a simple formula:

Open rate = Total emails opened ÷ (Total emails sent – bounced emails)

For example: Let’s say you’ve sent 100 emails with your last campaign, five of which bounced back (meaning, didn’t reach the recipient). So, that means you sent 95 emails in total. If out of those 95 emails sent, 20 were opened, then you have an email open rate of 21%.

Usually, you won’t have to do the calculations yourself if you want to find out your email open rate, as most email marketing software does the calculations for you.

According to research, the average email open rate should be between 16-25%. However, this number can be very individual and dependent on the industry you’re in. If you have an open rate higher than the average—fantastic. And if your number is lower, it’s an indication that your strategy needs improvement to increase your email open rate.

How do email service providers work?

Email service providers are always looking for ways to protect their users’ inboxes. It’s crucial for security and to avoid spammers occupying precious email space and to protect people from possible scams. When you’re sending out individual emails, chances for email to get marked as spam are lower. But when you send out a bulk email campaign, that’s when email service providers could mark your email as spam.

Just as how you don’t want your email campaigns to land in the spam folder, you also want to avoid landing in the “Promotions” tab in Gmail. If your email ends up in the “Promotions”, chances of your email being seen by your subscribers are pretty low.

Here are some effective ways to avoid landing in the “Spam” and “Promotions” tabs:

  • Avoid stuffing your email with links: Many links in one email indicate to the service providers that it’s a sales email, leading the email to land in the appropriate tab—”Promotions”.
  • Keep your emails short: Long text can flag your email as either “Promotions” or “Spam”, as it’s rare for personal communications between people to have long blocks of text.
  • Increase your email open rate: Engagement matters when it comes to your email list. If your list constantly doesn’t open your emails, the email service provider will take that as a sign to mark you as “Spam”.
  • Always ask for double opt-in: Double opt-in requires all new sign-ups to confirm that they want to be on your email list, which improves email deliverability, and those sign-ups tend to be more engaged.

Swing and miss: What does it mean if your email isn’t reaching your audience?

Your emails not reaching your list means that you’re missing out on a lot of business opportunities. If your audience doesn’t get your emails, they might miss out on crucial opportunities. These can include new product releases, sales, and other exciting things they might benefit from.

It’s also a waste of your resources, both monetary and time, if your emails don’t land in your subscribers’ inboxes. While many email marketing software is free to start with, the cost can accumulate quickly once you grow a larger list. If you’re not reaching that list, then you’re losing money with your marketing.

How to ensure that your email always reaches your list

The good news is that there are many things you can do to increase your email open rates.

1. Deliver what people want to see

The best way to make sure that your email list is engaged is by sending emails they want to read. If you see that your email open rate is low, it might be that you’re not delivering what your audience wants.

When you’re ready to increase your email open rate, the first thing you should do is look at the value of your email newsletter and whether it’s exactly what your ideal customer wants. Are you delivering content that you’ve promised when they were signing up?

For example: Let’s say you teach meditation. Your lead magnet attracts new people to your list. It promises that you’ll deliver tips on meditation for busy moms every Monday. However, you send out newsletters on random days with wellness tips and meditation practices for advanced students. As a result, you’re not delivering what your email list is looking for.

If you want to share different tips and information about meditation, the best thing to do is create multiple lead magnets and segment your email list into groups. Then, you can send out separate emails to busy moms with tips on meditation, advanced meditation advice for people interested in it, and so on.

Delivering the content that people want to see in their inboxes is the best way to ensure that your email open rate is high. And it encourages people to engage with you, helping you build a reputation with email service providers.

2. Set up a proper welcoming sequence

A welcoming sequence or onboarding is the part of your email strategy that takes the most time to set up. But it’s also the most important. You want to ease in new subscribers into your list and make sure that they safelist you so that you don’t end up in “Promotions” or “Spam”.

Your onboarding sequence should include these things:

  • Double opt-in or confirmation: Always ask new people to confirm that they’re signing up for your email list and newsletter. This is also where you ask them to safelist your email address, so it doesn’t end up in “Spam”.
  • Welcoming email: This is your time to greet all new subscribers and introduce yourself and your business. This is also a place to let new subscribers know when their freebie will land in their inbox. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Also, don’t forget to gently nudge and ask to safelist your email address again.
  • Deliver the lead magnet: Deliver the promised goodies to your new subscribers, ensuring they receive exactly what they signed up for.

This is a very simple example of effective onboarding for new subscribers, but you can go more complex if you want to. Just don’t forget to segment your list into groups if you have more than one lead magnet to get the best engagement and open rates.


3. Ask them to interact with you

A tip that not many people talk about is to ask your email list to interact with you. While getting people to open your emails is already a great sign, it’s not the only thing that helps you build a reputation with the email service provider.

When someone opens your email and clicks on the link, it indicates to the email service providers that the sender is to be trusted and that people are engaging with what you’re offering them. It’s even better if someone replies to your email and interacts with you.

So, when you’re sending your weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletters, think of new ways to interact with your readers. Ask them questions about their struggles relating to the topic they’re seeking help with by being on your email list. And then encourage them to reply to your email with those questions.

Also, it might be fun to bring in the human side of your business and share something personal that might resonate with your readers. When fitting, talk about your favorite movies, celebrities, pop culture things. And then ask your list to share theirs by replying to your email.

Small actions like that will add up over time in building your reputation with email service providers, which will help your emails land exactly where they should and increase your email open rate.

4. Follow the rules and don’t spam people

We’ve already touched on some things that can help you ensure that your emails land in the right parts of your subscribers’ inboxes. But there are more rules to know and things you can do to increase your deliverability even more:

  • Send emails from the official business email address: When sending out email campaigns, instead of using your Gmail, Hotmail, etc., use the official email with your business name. Email service providers tend to mark bulk emails sent from their addresses as “Spam”.
  • Avoid writing spammy subject lines: Yes, all caps are fun, but they can mark your email as “Spam”. So does the excessive use of exclamation points and symbols mixed within words.
  • Be mindful with images: Pay attention to the text-to-image ratio in your email. Many images can flag your email as “Spam” or at least a “Promotions” email, which we want to avoid.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe: Make sure to include an easy way to opt-out from your emails to avoid getting spam complaints when people can’t easily leave your email list.
  • Avoid trigger words: There are certain words that scream “spam!” to the email service providers, so it’s best to stay clear of those.

5. Be consistent with your efforts

Deciding how often you want to send emails depends on your individual business needs. Be mindful not to send emails too often as that can irritate even the superfans. But also, don’t send your newsletter once in a blue moon because your email list might forget about you.

As with many aspects of your business, consistency is the key to success with your email marketing efforts. It’s a surefire way to increase your email open rate. In addition, sending emails on time will build trust with your email list. It will also show them that you truly care, which is a great way to entice strangers to become students.

Being consistent will also help with the deliverability of your emails because the biggest supporters of your business will know when to expect your email, and they’ll be reading it once it lands in their inbox, in turn building your authority and reputation with email service providers.

Karolina Wilde

Karolina Wilde, Karolina Wilde is a freelance writer. Her work has been published on Better Marketing, The Ascent, and Sexography reaching over 25,000+ readers. In her free time, you can find her podcasting, reading, or creating TikTok videos.

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