Exploring email open-rate benchmarks in PR—4 ways to improve yours

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Marketing, Public Relations

Email marketing is a personalized and effective way to reach your target audience and is a staple of many PR campaigns. But emails are only valuable to your campaign if they are actually opened. It can be frustrating to see a low open rate when you’ve put so much time and effort into crafting messages and pitches designed for a specific audience.

Thankfully, several key factors tend to influence email open rates—and we’ll look at some of them in this article.

email open-rate

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What influences email open rates?

Before you decide what changes might need to be made to your emails, it’s important to understand how they perform in the eyes of your subscribers. You can calculate how many people are opening your emails by dividing the number of subscribers by the number of opens each campaign sees. Ideally, your open rate will be anywhere from 17-28 percent.

If your email open rates are not meeting expectations, there are a variety of strategies that you can use to get your target audience interested.

Strategies to improve email open rates

If you’re looking to start improving your email open rate, you need to start by looking at your PR campaigns as a whole. One way to do this is through process visualization. This kind of mapping allows everyone to see what’s going on, what needs to be done and creates a visual that allows your team to see where you are and where you can go, and how to get there. You can improve visualization by identifying starting and endpoints, getting rid of unnecessary information, and keeping things simple.

Once you have streamlined your process for running your PR campaigns, you can determine what role emails play in them—and what types of open rates you need to hit for them to be effective.

Form a relationship with your target audience

PR is all about forming relationships with your target audience—be it customers, journalists or other industry stakeholders. By conducting market research, being aware of your campaign goals, and using data from past campaigns, you can learn what makes an email resonate with your desired audience. 

You should also consider segmenting your campaigns based on interests or sub-audiences. From an email standpoint, segmenting your audience makes it easier to send emails with specific and appropriate content to the right people.

Make sure your subject lines are engaging

You can start to win people back by focusing on creating catchy subject lines. You might only have one sentence to grab attention, but if you can do that, you’ll entice people by suggesting that the content of your email body is something worth reading. You can also personalize the subject line by using their name. Be descriptive about what your email contains, but keep things short and snappy.

Update your subscriber list

Finally, if you’re sure your content is where it needs to be but you’re still experiencing low open rates, take a look at your subscriber list. If you have a lot of hard bounces, your list probably consists of a lot of outdated emails, or that your communications are being marked as spam. You will need to look at your bounceback records to determine your best course of action—either removing subscribers or working to make sure that your emails don’t end up in the junk folder.

Creating content that captures attention

Even if you have great subject lines and can capture the attention of your subscribers, everything will fall flat if you don’t create content that keeps their attention. Having better content, and content that tells a story, won’t only improve your open rates, but it will also help to improve click-through rates. Ideally, you want your content to be high-quality, and have it resonate and connect with your audience.

Keep in mind that your PR campaign may overlap with marketing goals or other strategies that your company may use to connect with consumers. For instance, many small businesses aim to outlast adversity by focusing on marketing and building connections with their connections even if they have a limited number of resources. 

While these same businesses may look to social media—a noble and wise choice—digital PR can also play a large role in building effective connections with consumers. You should keep these goals in mind when creating your email campaigns and work to design content that is both effective and can also fit into multiple niches if needed.

Take a look at your existing benchmarks and determine what could be keeping your open rates low. By implementing some of these tips and working on boosting your brand all around, you’re likely to see more opens, fewer bounces, and more clicks in everything you send.

Katie Brenneman
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.


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