The average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends 40, according to a February 2017 study by the Radicati Group. There were 3.7 billion email users worldwide, and that’s expected to grow to 4.1 billion by 2021 … that’s more than half of the Earth’s population.

Social media marketing was supposed to render email campaigns obsolete. Instead, studies show that companies bring back $44 for every $1 spent through email campaigns. That kind of ROI means you’ll be getting more email, not less. Of course, with that much information flowing daily, no one has time to read everything that comes through the inbox. Smartinsights.com calculated open rates across industries and found that it varies widely by industry. Overall, it found email-open rates of 24.88 percent and a click-through rate of 4.06 percent.

Top 5 and Bottom 5 Open Rates by Industry
IndustryOpen RateClick-Through RateClick-To-Open Rate
1. Publishing36.59%7.75%21.17%
2. Restaurants and food35.69%4.18%11.71%
3. Health care35.54%5.69%16.01%
4. Education34.78%5.58%16.05%
5. Non-profits34.44%4.99%14.50%
IndustryOpen RateClick-Through RateClick-To-Open Rate
14. Health and beauty24.71%4.56%18.44%
15. Technology24.66%3.91%15.86%
16. Retail23.69%3.47%14.63%
17. Automotive23.60%4.43%18.79%
18. Internet marketing18.05%3.16%17.53%
Source: https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/email-communications-strategy/statistics-sources-for-email-marketing/

Clearly, if you are using email blasts and automated marketing, you have to be creative to get a weary public to open your emails. This subject line worked on me: “Lunch is on us.”

It came from SharpSpring and it was enough to get me to open the email. SharpSpring is a marketing automation company that features an all-in-one marketing platform. If you are using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program (Thinker is using Full Contact), a social media management tool such as Hootsuite, and a mass-email tool such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp, SharpSpring has a single platform that does what those programs do, plus several other features.

Switching to something like SharpSpring at Thinker is a want, not a need, at this point. Still, we like to eat. We responded to the email and found it was a simple offer: SharpSpring would pay up to $250 for our office to have lunch as long as we signed up for and sat through a demo. That was easy enough. Ironically, we were celebrating the birthdays of two of our staff members and we used the offer on sushi from The Spider Sushi Bar in Rockford, Illinois.

Other options

There are lots of ways to raise email-open rates. Throwing money at it is an expensive solution, but it can work if you can wow the reader and maintain a positive return on investment. In SharpSpring’s case, it was an effective demo; we’re considering the pros and cons of switching, which includes cost and training time.

SharpSpring is a publicly traded company that brought in $12.8 million in revenue in 2017. The vast majority of companies and organizations using email campaigns to engage new clients and customers are looking for less expensive ideas. Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits, wrote 10 good tips for entrpreneur.com:

  • Format your messages for mobile devices. Hubspot.com found that nearly three out of four smartphone users use their phones to check email, and more than 50 percent of all email opens are from mobile phones. Make sure your emails display well on smartphones.
  • Keep your email list fresh. Check it over periodically to remove inactive subscribers and check for misspellings, such as @gail.com.
  • Don’t buy leads. Running a contest or offering something free in exchange for an email address is a far better way to raise your open rates.
  • Segment your list carefully. Break down your list into groups of similar recipients and target highly focused email blasts to those recipients.
  • Avoid spam filters. Spam filters improve monthly, and if your email gets flagged, your open rates fall dramatically. Do not use all caps in a subject line or the words “deal,” “rich,” “free” or “sale.” Also, do not make the email read like a brochure and limit the number of links you include.
  • Send at the right time. The actual time and day of the week you send an email does affect open rates. That’s a subject we explored in March.
  • Send from a person, not a company. An email from a company gets marked as advertisting, which can get your email deleted.
  • Write quality content. If you are sending content that can be found elsewhere or constantly just sending promotions, your messages will get deleted more often than not. Vary the message and only send relevant info and offers.
  • Write to one person. Use the person’s name in the opening and write the email as if you are writing to just that person. Readers look for familiarity clues.
  • Create an engaging subject line. “Lunch is on us” only works if you’re willing to spend the money. But it is a good example of an eye-catching phrase. A/B test various subject lines to see which ones get a better response. A great thing about email marketing is you can test, test and test again.