1. Email Marketing

8 Tips to Better Email Open Rates

We have seen how effective email marketing can be as a form of marketing strategy, but how do you ensure your emails are actually read, and don’t just sit in a crowded inbox? Ensuring good email open rates for your campaign is crucial for the success of your email marketing strategy: the more people that read your emails, the higher the chance of more revenue for your business.

The average email open rates vary from industry to industry. For example, computer hardware and telecommunications have the highest click-to-open rate of any industry at 39.2%, while the insurance industry is the weakest performer in the lot, with a comparably small 0.2% click-to-open rate. Read this article for a complete list of click-to-open rate benchmarks to see how your own rates fare.

So if your emails are reading low open rates or these are continuously decreasing, what do you do? Don’t be discouraged – there are techniques you can employ to improve your open rates. Here are our best 8 tips:

#1. Set The Right Expectations

You have to set the right expectations for your readers. Use your website’s subscribe page or opt-in form to tell readers what to expect from your emails.

Then deliver corresponding and relevant content.

If you promise exclusive, behind-the-scenes information to your subscribers, then make sure you send exclusive, behind-the-scenes information. Irrelevant email content is one of the biggest drivers of low open rates, and even unsubscribes. Under-promise, then over-deliver.

#2. Make Your Subject Line Short…

With such high usage of email nowadays, chances are your email will arrive in a busy inbox. As a result, you need to take steps to ensure you stand out from the crowd. Having an over-length subject line that is uninteresting or is cut off is enough to lose your subscriber’s interest before they have opened the email. Different email providers show different subject lengths, but it is best to keep it under 20 words.

#3. …But Intriguing

33% of emails get opened because of the subject line. It’s likely to be the first thing your subscriber will read before opening the email, so don’t waste your chance of a great first impression.

Generic subject lines are uncreative and uninviting. Examples include:

  • Our Monthly Update.
  • 10% off our product this month.
  • We offer gardening in your area.

How can you improve these lines?

  • Bored at work John? Our monthly update has arrived.
  • Payday too far away Brian? Just for you: 10% off discount code!
  • Thistle cheer you up big thyme: cheap gardening in your area.

Lines that include humour, personalisation and intriguing information are more likely to be opened, improving your overall open-rate. Get creative!

#4. Stop Overselling

According to Hubspot, emails should be 90% educational and only 10% promotional. That means you should never oversell your company/product/service. Overselling and over-promising doesn’t support a good reputation, and your customers will notice!

Be honest with your subscribers: only promise what you can provide and make sure this information is accurate, to avoid customers ignoring your emails in the future, or worse, reporting them as spam.

#5. Avoid SPAM Signals

Did you know that 45% (about 14.5 billion) of all emails are classified as spam? With this statistic in mind, we can understand why a lot of email users are cynical about receiving emails from people or companies they don’t know.

To ensure your emails do not go to spam, build credibility. Avoid spam signals like using all caps, using excessive exclamation marks, or hyperbolic subject lines.

You should also ensure your emails take a professional manner, regardless of your tone of voice. Use correct grammar and punctuation, and steer clear of spammy words like: Discount, Click Here, Limited-Time, Complimentary, and Urgent.

#6. Make Emails Personal

Click-to-open rates are much higher if you use a personalised email to address your subscribers. Your subscriber should feel like you are talking to them, and not your entire company mailing list. Be as personable as possible to avoid it becoming too generic.

Using first names emails is a good way to do this; in our experience, such emails always perform better. With EmailOctopus you are able to both insert names into your subject line and the body of your email.

You can also utilise surveys to identify your subscribers’ needs, views, and opinions and use the data for future campaigns.

#7. Content Quality

Providing quality content is key to ensure your subscribers continue to open your emails in future. Content should be relevant to your readers’ interest and correspond to what you have promised and what they expect.

Also make sure that you are consistent in terms of brand, colour, design, and even the “from” mailing address. As humans, we are drawn to familiarity and consistency and this goes for email design too.

#8. Timing

Content aside, timing can affect the open rate of your emails as well.

Day and Time of Day

Emailing at wrong times or at an inappropriate time of the day can have adverse effects on your open rate. For example, if you have an event this coming weekend, emailing your list on a Thursday may be better than emailing on a Monday. For business events, it has been advised that late morning and afternoon are the best times for sending emails. Sending emails late at night means your email is more likely to be at the top of your subscribers’ inbox in the morning. Watch for time zones, however.


You should also observe proper spacing or frequency. If you send emails too frequently, your list may develop “list fatigue” where subscribers get tired of hearing from you, plunging your open-rates down.

Find the right balance and observe proper spacing of your email campaigns. Sending too many may annoy your subscribers; sending too few may mean your list forgets you! Understand your subscribers and know what works for them.

It’s All In The Mind

Improving your open rate is like playing a mind game with your subscribers. You need to make your email campaigns intriguing and attractive enough to “trick” your subscribers into opening the email. The 8 listed above are some of the most actionable and effective tips that come with tangible results. Try them!

And for more actionable tips, check out our guide to catapulting your email open rates.

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