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Friday Sends, Segmentation and More Testing Can Boost Your Email Rates

In the space of about an hour yesterday, I read a 2020 email report that said that Fridays are now getting the best engagement of the week—and then our director of marketing said how well our noon Friday emails are doing. The reasons? Less competition and people are not traveling so they’re working, but if they are like me, they may be doing a little lighter lifts. So opening emails may feel just right.

Campaign Monitor has put out a report titled Media and Publisher Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2021 (download here), looking at the email trends from the year 2020. Here are some takeaways:

Friday is the best day for email marketing.
In one of the biggest surprises, Friday, not Wednesday or Thursday, was the best day for engagement. It had the best open rate (22.1%), the best click-through rate and the best click-to-open rate. “This is just one example of the ways the pandemic changed the way people engage with the world around them.” In open rates, Monday was second and Sunday third. But in click-through and click-to-open rates, Wednesday was second and Saturday third.

Mobile opens decreased this year for the first time ever.
Those dropped from 63% to 54% in 2020. “With fewer people commuting and more people going from their morning coffee directly to their desks—guilty—people spent more time at their desks.”

Click-through rates decreased steadily over the course of 2020.
The thinking is that Zoom fatigue and the ongoing crisis led people to disconnect for the benefit of their mental state. So while opens still soared, that didn’t translate to click-through or click-to-open rates. They suggest that “publishers will need to re-engage with their audience and combat fatigue through increased personalization. Publishers can analyze the engagement they saw early in 2020 to discover new segments that will help you deliver hypertargeted emails you know your audience will care about. For example, you can segment people based on the type of content subscribers engaged with” or even the format of that content. Did they click on images as opposed to in-text links?

Publishers experienced 29% growth in open rates from 2018 to 2020.
From 2019 to 2020 alone publishers saw 19.7% growth in their open rates. “That means more and more people are turning to email as a trusted source of information, as a way to connect directly with the publishers they care about most.” It also goes to the ascending popularity of newsletters. In general, the publishing industry outperformed the average email benchmarks for every industry across the board in 2020.

Ways to improve your email open rate:

– Create a welcome series to foster loyalty and strong relationships.
Welcome emails perform very well. A report from last year said that 30% of onsite digital subscriptions originate from “welcome” messages, that provide an introduction to new readers, and “warn” messages that serve as reminders as the reader approaches the meter limit.

– Test send day, send time, cadence, subject line length, tone, content and even sender name.
Perhaps you will do better with a person’s name that people know. At Dell, every new landing page is a multi-faceted project that requires several handoffs taking 6-8 weeks to customize and globalize for testing.

– Don’t forget—and give thought to—the preheader text.
I’ve noticed an uptick since we started doing those.

– Focus on sending only highly-relevant content through personalization and segmentation.
This came from another email report last year: “Personalization is quickly being overtaken by hyper-personalization, not only in email messaging but in touch points far beyond the inbox. Brands that have resisted the personalization wave will find their reliance on one-size-fits-all email might shut them out of the inbox as customers grow more apathetic to their messages—and ISPs use that apathy to give preferential treatment to brands more in tune with their customers.”

How to improve the click-through rate:
Ensure that your emails align with subscriber expectations. Know your audience and why they are there. Also make sure that your subject line reflects the content of your email. You can fool people once or twice with tricky subject lines, but it’s not worth it in the long run.

How to lower your unsubscribe rate:
“Routinely schedule re-engagement campaigns to maintain list hygiene. Segment your audience to send the most relevant emails. Focus on quality of subscribers above quantity.

You can get the full report here.