10 Tips to Improve Your Email Open Rates

Mark O'Hare

Email marketing is the practice of sending out content-rich emails to customers and prospects. Email marketing has one of the highest engagement rates and return on investment of any marketing strategy.

The main issue with marketing emails is that consumers are bombarded with them on a daily basis. Email fatigue affects open rates. We may have subscribed to a mailing list for a discount or to find out more about a new product launch but after that the only action we take is to mark the email as read to clear our inbox.

It’s hard to stand out from the crowd and marketing emails have a traditionally low open rate. There are a couple of actions you can take to keep your customers clicking on your emails outlined below.


  1. Subject Line: This is the first thing your recipient sees when the email comes into their inbox. It needs to engage the customer to get them to open the email. It should be descriptive and casual, let the customer know what the email is about in an informal way. Remember, you can A/B test your emails too. Try out different subject lines and see what your mailing list interacts with.
  2. Personalise your Emails: As you probably assumed, emails are more likely to be engaged with if they’re addressed directly to the recipient. Most CRM and mass email marketing tools will have a shortcut to allow you to include the recipient’s first name in the greeting. Also remember to write the main body of the email as if you are talking to one person.
  3. Vary the Content: Your email campaign should have a mixture of content. People don’t want their inbox filled with sales emails. Try to vary your emails between text/imagery and sales/newsletter information. This will help boost engagement rates.
  4. Manage your List: You should be regularly reviewing your mailing list. If some of your subscribers are not interacting with your emails or they are consistently getting bounced then you should consider removing them from your list. Similarly, keep an eye out for obvious misspellings in your mailing list e.g. ‘@gmailcom’ or ‘@yhoo.com’. This will help on two fronts – 1, your open rates will improve and 2, it will cut your costs if you’re using a email tool that charges per subscriber.
  5. Keep it Mobile Friendly: More emails are now read on mobile devices than any other device. You need to ensure that your emails are displaying correctly on email. People delete emails that display incorrectly on mobile almost immediately. Check that your images fit mobile devices and that your column layout is mobile friendly.
  6. Avoid the Spam Filter: The last thing you want is for your email to be picked up by the spam filters. Reduce the spammy text in your emails and limit the amount of links to avoid today’s advanced spam filters. Phrases like ‘sale’, ‘rich’ or ‘great deal’ might get picked up. Spam filter will pick up sentences in all caps too.
  7. Pick the Right Time: There is a lot emphasis placed on timing of emails, maybe too much. It is said that their are certain times of the week that are best for engagement depending on who your audience is and what your message is. There is conflicting research though on what the best time is. Some, like Experian, say you get the best open rates on Saturdays and Sundays while others say midweek is best. This is probably something you will have to test over time.
  8. Make your Emails Valuable: As I have said, many people only subscribe to a company’s mailing list to get a discount code. After that they might not look at that company’s email newsletter again. This is why you need to give your email value. There is two ways to do this. You can either invest a lot of time into producing top-quality content for your mailing list or continue to provide discounts to your mailing list. Both of these will improve your email open rates.
  9. Repeat your Processes: If you have found an email marketing strategy that is working for you then you should repeat your processes. Use the same emails for new subscribers and retarget customers who previously ignored your emails.
  10. Send from a Person: This technique has its doubters too. Some will say that recipients are more likely to open an email if the sender is a ‘name’ rather than a company. This is beneficial if you’re sending emails to gmail accounts. Your email is more likely to land in their Primary inbox if it looks like it’s from a personal account. Most companies use the format ‘Employee Name from Company’ e.g. Mark from The Unit.
Mark O'Hare