Increase email open rates

You created the lead magnet. You harvested the email addresses. You wrote the emails. But your email open rate is very low. No one’s reading your emails. There are things you can do about this problem.

Give people a reason to open your email

Most of us receive dozens - if not hundreds - of marketing emails every week. If an email doesn’t look compelling and interesting, there’s a good chance we won’t open it.

Subject lines, send times, recognizable senders, and a history of useful content work together to encourage people to actually open one email over another.


Use your analytics platform to track the performance of your email campaigns so that you have a baseline to start from.

Make sure you include email open rates, but other metrics like click-throughs and conversions will also be useful.

Set up double opt-in for your mailing list signups to ensure that people on your lists actually want to receive your emails.

Tell people on the opt-in form that they’ll need to confirm, add a CTA to your thank-you page, write a custom subject line for the confirmation email, and optimize your confirmation thank-you page.

Optimize the subject lines in your email campaigns. Use previous successful campaigns as a guide.

Analyze subject lines from campaigns with high and low open rates, segment the audience for each campaign, use your audience’s language, add personalization and a sense of urgency, and edit the subject line down to under 30 characters.

Use voice-of-customer data to write more natural subject lines and preview texts.

A/B test subject lines, record voice-of-customer during interviews and surveys, segment subscribers and personalize content for each segment. Use a subject line research tool, and write preview texts that support your subject lines.

Improve your signup process for newsletter subscribers and write useful, consistent content.

Clean your email list, follow opt-in best practices, improve your content, find the best send time, experiment with personalization, and track email open rate performance.

Use a recognizable sender name on your email campaigns to build brand recall.

Start with a sender name that your subscribers will expect, then add an alternative that creates a sense of exclusivity or personal friendliness. Split-test your sender names to see which ones perform better.

Spam test your emails before sending them to pick up any issues that will cause email platforms to hide or flag them as suspicious.

Remove common trigger words, excessive images, misleading messaging, broken links, and misspellings.

Check your analytics platform to see how your email campaigns are performing.

Now that you’ve made some changes to your email campaigns, you should be seeing improvements in your email open rates.


@hesh_fekry I added these steps.

Setting expectations helps as well. For example, when somebody subscribes, you want to ensure they know what they are getting and how often—too many newsletters’ calls to action lack any detail about the content. People subscribe to find out the content wasn’t what they expected, so don’t bother opening the emails.

This might be a controversial opinion, but an email doesn’t always need to be opened to be successful. Sometimes it is enough for people to see your email and remember your brand exists. Again, it is about staying front and center in people’s minds.

Also, remember that open rates can be deceptive. For example, many people read emails in preview windows that don’t always trigger an open, not to mention that many people block tracking of opens.

I know this seems like a bit of a cheating way of increasing your open rate, but purging cold subscribers from your list often helps. There will be some people who just never open your emails or are no longer using that email address.

It is good practice to remove these from your mailing list once in a while. That said, this needs to be done carefully; otherwise, you can remove legitimate subscribers. We probably need a whole playbook on that subject.

It is also important to personalize emails. That includes having people’s full names in the from field and addressing them in person. If you don’t have that information currently, consider using a service like Clearbit that can look it up for you.