What Email Response Rate Will You Get?

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If I ever write a book on email marketing (oh, wait I did, ahem, another book) it might be called “It depends.”

What’s a good email response rate?

It depends.

How many people will click?

It depends.

How many people will open it?

It depends.

Same for pop-up conversion, signups to newsletters, direct mail, AdWords….

It depends.

There are many variables that can affect your email response rate: the list quality, the offer, the bounce rate, deliverability, copy, call to action, time of day, day of the week, how often you email, your industry, and many other factors.

Out of these, the three with the biggest impact are:

your email marketing list

The quality of the  list you use is the single biggest factor, whether you are using email, snail mail, advertising on TV, or putting an ad in a magazine.  There are several factors to consider when choosing an outside list, or sending an email using your own in-house list.

First, how clean is it?  Have you updated the list regularly?  That means removing addresses that regularly bounce, people who have unsubscribed, or people who simply haven’t open your emails in a while (say six months  to a year).

Second, how well do the names on that list fit your ideal customer profile?  Are they the right demographic?  Does everyone on your list have an interest in this particular offer? Or, would it be better to send it to only a portion of your list?

Third, is it your own list? Or a list you rented elsewhere?  Your own list should get better results.

The Offer

Is your offer any good? An offer doesn’t necessarily have to be a “sale” or a discount.  It can be a free ebook, a paid consultation, or an app.  It’s simply whatever the person responding gets in return for a response.

How well does your offer fit your target audience? Does it solve a big problem that they have?

Is the offer free free? Or is it paid?  How expensive is it?  Free offers will generally get a higher response rate, than something that costs money.  And, the more expensive, the lower the response rate (but possibly the higher the revenue).

Is the offer exclusive or new?  Or is it something that is common everywhere?  New, limited edition, or exclusive products will attract more people, more interest, and get higher response rates.

the creative

By creative, I mean everything the person reading your email sees.  That includes the words, the typeface, the layout, the subject line, any photos or illustrations, buttons, button text, and the call to action.  Changing the colors, altering the text on the buttons, testing subject lines, or from lines, and switching your calls to action can all have an effect on your response rates.  Which will work best will also depend on your audience and your particular products and industries.

A few general rules for improving the response rate from your creative:

  • Make the call to action buttons a different color than the rest of the website.  This will help them stand out.
  • Use ‘you” and “your” more frequently than “me”, “my” or “our”
  • The “from” line should come from a real person
  • Send any questions or replies to a monitored email box (and answer them)

Every time you send an email, track it, monitor the results, and analyze what happened.  Did emails sent on Tuesday do better than those sent on Monday?  Did you get more replies when you changed your offer to $5 off instead of 10% off? How many bounces did you get?  If your audience is big enough, test your copy and offers on a small portion of your list to see which does better. Once you have results, send the winning option to the rest of your list.


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