9 Tips for Better Lab Marketing Emails and Higher Open Rates

Open rates are a key measure of your water testing lab's email marketing campaign success. While some of the credit and blame for open rates rests on your content, they are also affected by a variety of technical factors.

If a user reads your message but doesn't allow image downloads, it may not count as an email open. Messages that are read in preview mode or on mobile devices also may not count as opened emails. And there's always the chance that a system may interpret your legitimate marketing emails as spam and block them, which takes away a user's opportunity to even open them at all.

  • Audit your email list regularly by asking subscribers whether they still want to receive your messages. Remove subscribers who never engage.
  • Segment your email list by personas, such as industry facility managers, municipal wastewater staff, farmers and growers, and homeowners. Target each group with emails relevant to their needs and pain points.
  • Ensure your subject line and preview text work together to entice your customers to open your email. They can make a major difference in your email marketing success.

But before we get into how to overcome these technical dilemmas, we need to answer the obvious question: How do you calculate the open rate for your emails? The simplest answer is this: Email open rate = # of emails opened/(# of emails sent – # of emails that bounce). Say you send 800 emails. Your email service provider reports that recipients opened 125 but 80 can't be delivered. That gives you an open rate of 125/(800-80) or 17.36%. To put this into perspective, Mailchimp calculates the typical open rate is 21.33%.

Your lab's results may vary considerably, though. So instead of focusing on absolute open rates, pay more attention to trends over time, such as whether email opens are increasing or decreasing. Additionally, following these nine best practices can help you achieve more successful email campaigns with better open rates.

1. Keep Your List Fresh

Sending emails to people who never engage with them hurts your open rate. Every six months, ask subscribers whether they still want to hear from you. If they don't say yes, assume their answer is no.

Best practices — and anti-spam regulations — require a single opt in for emails, but double is even better. That means a user not only signs up, but they also click a link in your email to confirm their subscription. Removing subscribers may result in a smaller list but better overall engagement.

2. Segment Your Recipient List

Ensure marketing emails are relevant to every recipient. "Every customer does not have the same pain points," Sandy Fewkes, a marketing and public relations professional, tells Currents.

A homeowner with a private well has different concerns than, say, a facility manager at an industrial complex. So if your email includes content meaningful for their persona, recipients are less likely to unsubscribe or delete your messages unread. HubSpot reports that marketers who use segmented campaigns see as much as 760% in increased email revenue.

3. Decide on Your Sender

Sending from a specific individual rather than a company name can often boost open rates. "It depends on the type of communication," Nirmal Parikh, vice president of marketing at Dynasil, tells Currents. "If it's a newsletter, it can come from a company; but if an email is about a specific product or service, it may be better coming from an individual."

At the very least, drive positive emotions with a friendly email address, such as hello@ABCWaterLab.com instead of the generic info@ABCWaterLab.com. For campaigns promoting your water testing services, use your personal email address so customers can reach you directly with questions.

4. Dodge Spam Filters

To keep your emails out of the spam folder, send messages from a good IP address and ask subscribers to add you to their trusted email contacts. Additionally, forgo using all caps, exclamation points, and spammy language such as "free," "special," or "information" in the email subject line or body.

5. Energize Your Subject Line

Speaking of subject lines, it's crucial for yours to stand out and entice recipients to open your marketing emails. They should be creative, thought provoking, timely, conversational, and succinct.

Marketo research shows that the sweet spot for subject line length is seven words. But mobile devices may only display 25 to 30 characters of your subject line, whereas desktops commonly display 50 characters. Front-load crucial information in subject lines so they're optimized for both users.

Including the recipient's name or location in the subject line may also improve your open rates, so consider testing this approach.

6. Include Preheader Text

Email preheader or preview text appears after the subject line in the inbox. This is prime territory to engage your audience.

Preheader text only runs about 100 characters so, again, relay the most important information first. Don't repeat the subject line but do build on it. Instead of summarizing the email, create curiosity by asking a question, starting (but not finishing) a story, or teasing valuable content.

7. Create Amazing Body Content

Emails are more likely to be opened if they consistently contain great content. Consider what drives you to open an email — unexpected news, fascinating stories, informative graphics, intriguing facts, and valuable offers — and work those elements into your lab's marketing emails.

Write conversationally as though you're talking to a friend. This becomes a whole lot easier if you imagine just one person in the audience instead of hundreds. Limit your email body to four to six lines, and break up information using subheads and bullets so it's easier to scan. Include just one call to action (CTA) per email that's worth your recipients' time, whether it's promoting a testing offer, event, or blog post.

8. Optimize for Mobile

HubSpot reports that 46% of email opens happen on mobile devices. That means your emails need to look as good and work as well on a handheld device as they do on desktop.

All the above rules apply here, but you'll also want to focus on keeping your emails clean and simple. Make your CTA large and obvious so no one needs to scroll to see it. To ensure your messages appear correctly and that all their information is prominently displayed, use an email test tool that checks your format on various devices and email platforms.

9. Perfect Your Timing

When should you send marketing emails? "That's the million-dollar question," says Parikh. "Never on Monday morning or Friday afternoon. Midweek from late-morning to mid-afternoon seems to work best." And according to SuperOffice, 23% of emails are opened within the first hour of their delivery.

Picture your particular audience and when they might open your messages. If you're targeting homeowners, for example, weekends or weeknights may work best. You might also want to send emails to different segments at different times to see which period leads to the best open rates.

Remember, you want subscribers to open your marketing emails and engage with them. Following these best practices can help ensure they'll be happy to see your email in their inbox, open it, click through, and ultimately keep your water lab top of mind for their testing needs.


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Diana Kightlinger

Diana Kightlinger is an experienced journalist, copywriter, and blogger for science, technology, and medical organizations. She writes frequently for Fortune 500 corporate clients but also has a passion for explaining scientific research, raising awareness of issues, and targeting positive outcomes for people and communities. Diana holds master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism.