Getting Your Emails Seen By Your Target Audience

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Your email copy is written, your creative is finalised and captures your product or service perfectly. Great! Now, how do you ensure that as many people as possible actually see your email campaign?

Response Rates

We are often asked:

“What’s a good response rate?” or “What response rate should I expect?”

Unfortunately, response rates vary hugely, dependent on a number of factors, such as:

  • Your industry
  • Business or consumer audience
  • List of existing customers or prospects
  • Promotional or newsletter style emails.

Reasonable average response rates may be considered as follows (based around figures from The Direct Marketing Association’s National Email Benchmarking Report Half 2 2012) however all the above factors should still be considered, and these will change over time:

  • 20 to 24% Unique Open Rate for Retention emails (existing clients)
  • 10 to 14% Unique Open Rate for Acquisition emails (prospects)
  • 4.7 to 5.7% Unique Click Through Rate for Retention emails
  • 2.6 to 3.5% Unique Click Through Rate for Acquisition emails.

Bounce Reporting

The basics of bounce reporting are that a Hard Bounce means there is a permanent reason you can’t deliver to the address; a Soft Bounce indicates a temporary delivery issue.

Therefore the main concern is the level of Hard Bounces you see when sending campaigns, again as with all benchmarks the levels vary widely. However, you could expect anything from a 10-15% Hard Bounce rate on average.

As we have discussed before, all data decays, so if you are working with an old list including out-of-date email addresses you will of course see a higher bounce rate. For that reason, when purchasing data, discuss recency with your provider, and if you are using internal lists audit and update them as required.

High bounce rates can negatively effect your sender reputation and could even cause you to be blacklisted, but by emailing your lists regularly (ideally monthly, or quarterly at least) you will allow naturally aging email addresses to bounce out of the list. Also make sure you are using an Email Marketing Platform that tracks and removes invalid email addresses.

Spam Filters

Avoiding spam filters can be difficult as they look at an extensive list of criteria to judge whether your email is classified as Junk. With new criteria added and existing criteria changing regularly, it can be hard to keep track.

However, being aware of some of these core conditions will help you avoid typical spam traps:

  • Content mentions ‘money’ a lot
  • Includes spam phrases like ‘Click here’ ‘Order now’ ‘Low Risk’
  • Poor or broken HTML
  • Low ratio of text to image area
  • Use of all CAPITALS
  • Only sending HTML or Text (always send both).

Try to always use a Spam Checker - most good Email Marketing Platforms will include one, and that will help catch and identify any spam risks you may have missed.


Simply put, segmenting your target audience by different conditions can help improve the relevance of your email content and messages to the recipient – thus potentially increasing your open and click through rates.

Typical segments could include a wide variety of criteria:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Industry
  • Job Title

Profiling your existing customers can help you to identify the segments that would be most effective in targeting those most interested in your particular product or service.

With this additional knowledge, you can still opt to email the wider or entire list, but targeting the messages and sending in smaller batch volumes will also help to build your send reputation.

  • What kind of open, click and bounce rates do you see in your industry?
  • Have you come across any new spam filter criteria recently?
  • Have you found that segmentation improved your response rates in the past?