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Ways to Increase Your Email Conversion Rates

February 2, 2023
Marissa Taffer

Table of Contents

Email marketing is a powerful way to reach your target audience. But, it’s much more complicated than sending messages with engaging subject lines on a regular cadence. While there are many vital aspects of putting together a successful email marketing campaign, we’ll focus on email conversion rates and how you can increase yours. 

According to MarketerHire email marketing expert, Ellie Stamouli, Email is one of the best channels for conversion because you don’t have to pay every single time as you do when using other methods including digital ads. She further explains you will have acquired your email list as people have taken actions - signing up through a landing page or form on your website or even as a customer when they made a previous purchase. This could signal they are interested in your brand. 

She says that looking at the email conversion rate is the holy grail in measuring the success of your email campaign. Email open rate used to be another key metric but due to changes with Apple Privacy in 2021, email open rate is no longer a powerful metric or way to even know if your emails have landed well. 

The update Apple made allows iPhone users to opt-out of advertisers getting access to their device IDs. This changed how many advertisers are able to interact with their audiences and made retargeting more challenging for marketers. 

What exactly is email conversion rate? 

Email conversion is when an email recipient completes an intended action by clicking through your email as a step in the process. In an eCommerce business, an easy example is a person who gets an email, clicks through to a specific product, and completes a purchase. The conversion rate then is the percentage of people who complete the conversion for each specific call to action in an email.

Conversion doesn't always need to be for a purchase. Other conversion types include attending a webinar, opting in for an alert when a new product or service becomes available, or sharing information with a friend or colleague. All of these actions drive the person performing them deeper into the marketing funnel and help to continue to nurture the relationship between a person and your brand. 

How do you calculate your email conversion rate? 

To calculate your email conversion rate, start by dividing the number of email recipients who took the intended action by the total number of emails that were sent. You can then multiply the result by 100 to show that number as a percentage.

This will give you your email conversion rate for an individual email. You can also look at your average email conversion rate by taking an average of the individual email conversion rates across all of the emails you've sent in a specific period. You may want to understand your average email conversion rate by month, quarter, and year.  

What is a good target for your email conversion rate? 

In the email marketing industry, there is often talk about what makes a good email conversion rate. Marketers are consistently seeking to understand how their emails are performing relative to others. The actual percentage can vary based on a number of factors. This can include the level of investment the conversion represents, the industry, the audience, and the type of product or service. 

Think about it this way, convincing the right person to spend $150,000 on a piece of jewelry is likely to be a bigger challenge than convincing the right person to spend $9.99 on a t-shirt. (Unless you have a list of people who you already know are looking at jewelry in that price range!) 

While not everyone needs the jewelry or the t-shirt the higher price point of the jewelry means there are fewer people who can afford to make that investment. This will lead to a smaller number of conversions overall and it may make each conversion more valuable but more challenging to achieve. 

Need more data? In 2022, marketing automation software provider, Get Response analyzed almost 7 billion emails their customers sent over the course of 2021. They learned that industry agnostic, a good email open rate was only around 19% and the average click-through rate was only around 2%. 

They chose not to provide guidance on what constitutes a good conversion rate stating that "everyone can have their own definition of conversion, it’s impossible to say what a good email conversion rate is, and we suggest that you look at the next best thing, such as the average click-through rate." 

While that study did not look at email conversions, it DID look at landing page conversions (people who clicked through to a landing page) and provided data around percentages based on industry. 

While there isn't a gold standard for what is a good email conversion rate, you'll get the best results by aiming to continually improve yours. You can set an aggressive (but attainable) goal and try to exceed it by a small percentage with each email. 

Ways to improve email conversion rates 

Since we've seen how email conversion rates can vary depending on the type of business or industry and the value of the conversion, there are several best practices you can implement to help your business start to see improvement no matter what kind of business you have. 

Find the best days and times to send emails 

Ellie explains that she always tests various days and times to send emails to determine what is most effective. The answer to this will vary depending on your readers. For instance, if your audience is made up of young parents Friday evening after bedtime (for the kids) might be an ideal time to send emails. You may see better results as these parents could decide to shop online once they’ve put their kids down for the night. 

On the other hand, if your audience is made of 20 and 30-something singles, it might not be such a good idea to send emails on Friday night. Your target audience is more likely to be out enjoying the nightlife and not reading their email or shopping online. 

Remember that consistently looking at the data and continuing to iterate is a great way to improve conversion rates. You may see some seasonal trends and want to adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly. 

Segment your audience 

Another way to increase conversion is to use segmentation to send different messages to a smaller subset of your audience. 

There are many ways to segment your audience including: 

  • Geographic region 
  • Preferences (people who buy sneakers vs. people who buy jeans)
  • Age
  • Psychographics 
  • When they signed up or last purchased 
  • How frequently do they interact with your brand  

This might look like sending an email offering 10% off to the list of people who have not made a purchase from you in over 6 months. The small discount could incentivize some folks to come back and make a purchase.

Sending an appropriate message based on the segment that a recipient falls in will help them to take the right action based on their needs. Which can also help you increase your conversion rate. 

Clarify your call to action 

Having a clear and focused call to action (CTA) has a direct correlation to improved email conversion rates. Your Email recipients should know exactly what you want them to do. And then, once they click through to a landing page or your website it should be easy for them to do what they need to once they get there.

One other thing to keep in mind is ensuring your CTA can be completed. So if you're trying to promote a clearance sale, check to see if there is enough inventory so that your email recipients have something to purchase. 

Some easy-to-understand (and complete) CTAs include: 

  • Sign Up
  • Try us for free 
  • Join Us
  • Buy Now
  • Get Started 
  • Subscribe to our Newsletter
  • Donate
  • Tell a friend  

Consider keeping your email focused on one CTA - adding secondary CTAs can take away from your main conversion goal. When designing your email think about the ratio of things you want your email recipients to do and how many of those you can accomplish within one email. 

Ensure your message is appropriate for the recipient's stage in your funnel 

When sending email marketing messages, it is important to ensure that your message is aligned to where they are in their buying journey. For a person who is just starting to consider a purchase, sending some more information about the benefits or purchase process may be a more appropriate message than going straight in with a hard sell. These types of emails may have a lower conversion rate, but can also assist in getting to the conversion so they should not be completely overlooked. 

Do you provide a welcome coupon in your website popup? If you do this coupon or offer can also follow new customers in your emails until they make a purchase. 

Asking the direct question as part of your CTA, "Ready to buy, click here" or having a buy now button in an email for someone who is closer to the bottom of the funnel can give your conversion rate a boost. You know this person is ready to buy and you're making it easier for them to do so. 

Even if you can't be that direct with someone in the middle of your funnel, looking for ways to reduce friction in the process can help you increase your click-through rate (CTR) and ultimately your conversions. 

Sell it in your subject line

No, we don't mean literally. Having a compelling subject line is the first step in getting a recipient to even open your emails so they can convert. Using personalization, creating a sense of urgency or excitement, and piquing your recipient's curiosity are all ways you might entice someone to open an email. 

Not sure what will work best for you? This is a great thing to invest in A/B testing. Try two different subject lines and see what works best for your audience. Is one leading to more opens than the other? Continue to use that one and test additional variations to see if you can improve your open rate further. 

Make it mobile 

In most cases in this day and age people are reading their email and shopping on their phones. In a study conducted in 2022 by Oberlo, found that over 59.4% of web traffic in the US was from mobile.  In order to optimize your conversion rate, you want to make it easy for people to convert when on their mobile devices. 

This might mean designing your landing page and/or your website mobile first. While it might be enough to be mobile-friendly, it's important to understand how many of your recipients are converting from mobile - and if it's the majority, ensure that your CTA takes you to a place that you can easily convert right from a cellphone or tablet. The exception to this might be if your product or service is a significant investment. Some folks still seem to prefer to make large purchases at a desktop. 

Leverage the functionality of your email service provider (ESP)

Email service providers can help with improving email conversion rates too. Some have functionality that can track when individuals are opening the emails you send. Having this data can help you to further optimize send times (or the tool can automatically send at the optimal time based on historical information. 

You can also set up A/ B testing to try different tactics on the subsets of your audience. These could include altering the send day, the subject line, or even the CTA. Its important to test different landing pages for different conversion goals as well. If your tests are showing 100% of people are clicking through but you aren’t making any sales, it might not be the email that is the issue. It could be the content on the landing page that needs to be refined. 

This will help you learn what your audience is responding to more efficiently. Remember to look at the email conversion rates for both variations of your emails to determine which tactic is more favorable. It may take some time to get to a sample that is statistically significant but with some patience and data analysis, you should start to see clear winners. 

Have good data hygiene 

You should be checking inbox rates with companies like Everest or Validity. This will help you identify any problematic providers that you can suppress before any significant deliverability issues occur. As a good marketer, you already know that a good defense is the best offense and this is a great place to start. 

Add an email validation to the beginning of any user journey. When someone signs up for your email list, use Kickbox to verify that the email address is valid before it even gets into your email service provider - you cannot convert on an email address that is invalid! 

While removing inactive subscribers or asking people who have not opened your emails in a while to re-opt in may not be the most glamorous part of the job, it’s really important. Emailing the right people is a big part of getting those conversions. Having a clean list (and segmenting it as we've outlined above) can help you keep your conversion percentage higher. Sending emails to a large audience who is relatively uninterested in your product, service or brand will actually drag down your average conversion rate. Sending an email to 1 million people and having 250 people convert is a significantly lower conversion rate than sending an email to 1,000 people and having 250 people convert. Both emails got 250 conversions but as a percentage, the second email performed significantly better. 

Remove friction in the journey 

Make it as convenient as possible for people to complete your intended conversion. This means removing any and all possible obstacles between the click in the email and the end of the checkout process. Landing a user on a page that’s filled with products and making them search for the one they want can be frustrating and lead to users not completing the checkout process. 

So, make sure to always test your conversion path and remove as much friction as you possibly can along the way. If you have a four-step process, can you cut a step to make it three?  This may help you increase your conversion rate. 

Want to learn more about implementing an email marketing program in your organization? Reach out to MarketerHire to learn more about how a freelance marketing professional can help you get started.

about the author

Marissa Taffer holds a BA in corporate communication from Drexel University. She's written and ghostwritten for B2B, B2C and DTC brands with a focus on long-form blog content. Her bylined work can be found in the blogs of RaisinBread, Ollie, Campaign Monitor, and FairyGodboss.

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