Email is still one of the top content distribution channels for B2B marketing.

It’s not that surprising, given that it’s a great way to stay top of mind and let subscribers know of company news and awards and to share all of that evergreen content you’ve been producing. Email can help you re-engage old leads, help push top-of-funnel leads further down into the sales funnel, and drive current leads to conversions. That sounds simple enough on paper, but in practice it can be quite challenging to get subscribers to even open your newsletter.

According to Mailchimp, the average open rate across all industries sits at about 21 percent. That number varies depending on your industry, but it basically means for every 1,000 emails you send only about 200 are read. And the average click-through rate—when subscribers click on the links in your email—is nearly 3 percent.

But don’t feel disheartened. Remember, email is still way more effective at gaining new customers than Facebook or Twitter—and there are nearly 3 billion email users out there.

Want to improve your odds and increase your open rates? Here are five tips to consider for your B2B company newsletter:

1. Craft an eye-catching subject line (and pre-header text). 35 percent of recipients decide whether to open their email based on subject title alone. And 21 percent will report email as spam, even if they know it isn’t. Ouch.

There are a few ways to avoid the spam bin.

First, know exactly which buyer personas you’re targeting. Does your subject line match the style of language your subscribers use? Are they straight-laced or colloquial? Tailor your language accordingly and include keywords and phrases they care about.

Make your intent clear. Are you offering a promotion? Notifying subscribers of the week’s blog content? Office workers receive 121 emails per day on average, so be clear and concise.

Don’t forget pre-header text, either. That’s the tiny bit of seemingly random text you see in the email preview next to the subject line. It sounds useless, but it’s often the second or third thing readers see, so it can make a big difference. If it’s apologetic or confusing like “Click here to unsubscribe”, change it. It should complement your subject line.

Depending on your targeted persona, an irreverent sense of humor can catch a reader’s attention, such as in machine intelligence platform CB Insight’s newsletter about memes and animated GIFs. The subject line, “Meme talk. Large round for AR/VR. Food delivery fail”, sums up the contents of the email, while the pre-header text randomly uses Spanish and gives you a preview of what to expect: “Hola, when GIFs started popping up everywhere in 2010 or so…” Un muy buen ejemplo.

2. Get personal with sender names and personalized messaging. 64 percent of email subscribers will open a message based on who sends it. Do they recognize the sender? Is it a human name they can attach a face to, or just a brand name?

Would you open an email from “S&G Content Marketing” or “Lauren from S&G Content Marketing”?

Increase your chances and take the personal approach. It’s pretty effective as you can see in this example from HubSpot, which reveals a higher open rate for email from actual names, not just brands.

Use email segmentation, which was one of the most effective email campaign strategies in 2017.  Instead of sending a boilerplate email to everyone on your list, break your list up into different categories and personas and tailor your content, including the subject lines and in-line content, to those people. Also, address the recipient directly by first name in the subject line—it can increase open rates nearly 20 percent.

As for the content in the message itself, address the recipient’s specific concerns and values. This is where your buyer persona really kicks in, and it can have a dramatic effect. For example, a succinct email from LinkedIn’s Sales Solutions program addresses the recipient by name and specifies exactly where the reader is on their conversion journey. Then, it includes a strong call-to-action that also explains how its solution can help the reader. Thoughtfully, the sender also includes her profile picture in the message’s signature to further establish a personal connection.

3. Optimize and streamline your design (for mobile). What do readers see first when they click on your email?

Oftentimes, it’s the the header or banner so make it visually arresting. And make your logo visually arresting. And offer a clear objective to your reader. What are they going to see in this email?  

What they shouldn’t see is a big list of links to your website content. Nobody wants to sift through all those choices, and a bunch of close-together links makes clicking, or tapping, a challenge for mobile users. Spread things apart. Better yet, axe a bunch of them. Nobody wants to be bombarded, and you can save those links for another email.

In general, you want to simplify and streamline everything. Most emails are read on mobile devices now, which means vertical designs are necessary to make scrolling easier, and everything, including links, must be in a larger font. Don’t depend too much on images, since some phones turn them off automatically. However,  include them when you can, including other visual stimuli such as animated GIFs and video—they can significantly boost your click-through rate—up to 300 percent.

4. Choose your timing carefully. Timing, as they say, is everything. Especially the timing of your email newsletters. When should you send them? There are several schools of thought. Or rather, studies. Some say to send them on Tuesday, in the afternoon. That’s when most people are eating lunch or have already had lunch and are checking their email for the day.

MailChimp’s research agrees that weekdays are best.

Hubspot, however, says there’s no problem sending emails at night, specifically 8 p.m. to midnight. And Deloitte says 89 percent of mobile users check their phones within an hour of waking up, while 81 percent look at their phones within an hour of going to sleep.

In our experience, we find early weekday mornings between 6AM and 9AM to be some the best time for sending email newsletters.

Of course, this all depends on your targeted audience and where they’re located. Are they daytime office workers? Night owls? On the other side of the world? Try some email tests and adjust your timing for time zones accordingly. Depending on the results, you can figure out the best time to send your company newsletters.  

5. Create compelling content. To keep people clicking, you have to keep your content interesting.

We touched on this in the design tip up above but creating visual and interactive content will you give you an edge91 percent of users prefer it over traditional formats. Add an appealing image alongside the link to your evergreen how-to guide about a service or product. Tease readers with a portion of an infographic or a screenshot from a video.  

Give readers a preview of your content, too. Include a paragraph-long blurb next to the link to the complete article. The more compelling subscribers find your content, the more likely they’ll click on a link or download a piece of content.

Not sure what valuable content to make? Include a survey in your email newsletter. Not only does that fulfill the desire for interactive, rather than static, emails, but they’re a great way to gather information and feedback from your most importance resource—your company email newsletter audience.

These are a few tips that will help you increase open rates. If you need more info about email newsletters, open rates, or content marketing in general then sign up for our newsletter, where you’ll find more guides and tutorials. Or send your own email our way. We’d be happy to help you boost your open rates.  

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