Five ways to improve your email marketing open rates

Steve White 4 mins

Number 5

Email marketing can be a powerful way to connect with your audience and drive traffic to your website, but it works best when people actually open your emails. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your open rates.

As an email marketing agency, who has probably written upwards of 100,000 subject lines, we felts as though we were relatively well placed to outline a few tactics and tricks that we use to boost the open rates of our email marketing campaigns.

If you’d like to learn how to write subject lines that compel people to click on them, or if you need help cleaning up your email list so only the most engaged users are receiving emails from you, then read on!

1. Clean your email list

The first thing to do is to remove any spammy email addresses from your list. This is usually easy to find because the address will be gibberish, like or Another thing you can do is remove any inactive email addresses that have not responded to an email campaign in over a year (or whatever timeframe you choose).

Finally, if there are duplicate emails on your list, remove them as well so that only one version of each email address remains in the database (this will prevent some people from accidentally receiving more than one copy of an email).

Email marketing spam

2. Create a compelling subject line

The subject line is the first thing people see when they open their email. This is your chance to grab the reader’s attention and get them interested in what you have to say. It’s a bit like a movie trailer: You want it to intrigue people, making them want more by making them wonder what happens next (and hopefully opening your email).

Here are some tips for creating compelling subject lines:

  • Keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read an entire novel on their phone or computer screen when they’re checking emails during their morning commute or while waiting at lunchtime. Take advantage of this fact by keeping your headline concise and straightforward—no need for clever puns or clever wordplay here!
  • Personalize it as much as possible. Personalizing something like “You’ve got mail” might seem like common sense, but we know how often people forget about this simple step! Make sure that each subscriber gets a personal greeting that shows you care about them as an individual, not just another subscriber number in your database.

Our brilliant Head of Copy, Stuart Clark, writes dozens of subject headers every day, so he’s taken those experiences and produced this very helpful and handy white paper entitled “Copywriting for Email”. Stuart outlines 9 kickstart strategies for writing subject lines that capture attention.

3. Create a compelling preview header/preheader/snippet text

You may already know the importance of having a compelling subject line, but what about the preview text? In fact, you can use this to increase your open rates even further by enticing readers to open the email.

The preview text is typically placed below your subject line and above your email body copy. It’s important because it allows you to answer two critical questions: “What’s in it for me?” and “Why should I care?” If you don’t address these questions, then why should anyone bother opening an email from you?

Think about how many emails you open on a daily basis. They are probably mostly newsletters or monthly notifications from retailers like Amazon or eBay that contain very little value — just deals and offers that don’t really matter much (or at least not enough). The reason why we stop opening those types of emails is because there’s nothing in them for us! We’re not interested in hearing about some new product or sale unless there’s something relevant inside each one.

4. Personalize your emails

If you have the ability to add a subscriber’s name, location and interests to your email, do it! This will help give the subscriber a sense of familiarity with you and your company. If they see their name in an email that they opened, it’s more likely that they’ll feel like this is something that was written just for them and not something that was sent out to thousands of other customers. Also be sure to include relevant information about what products/services were purchased by this person so that when they open your next email there are more reasons as to why they should keep reading!

5. Segment your email campaigns

Segmentation is the process of dividing your list into smaller groups of people who have similar traits, behaviors or interests. It’s an important part of email marketing because it helps you send more relevant and personalized emails to your subscribers.

You can use segmentation to:

  • Send different types of campaigns depending on what’s going on in customers’ lives. For example, if you run a restaurant that offers catering services during holidays, you might want to send a special offer for catering services during Thanksgiving week instead of on Valentine’s Day when they may not be interested in ordering food from outside sources.
  • Personalize content based on how much interaction each subscriber has had with previous messages (for example, those who haven’t opened any emails recently).

Customer segmentation

Segmentation can be accomplished by using customer data such as names and addresses, purchase history or credit card information—or by looking at things like web browsing behavior or social media activity so that you know what topics people are interested in reading about most often (for example travel tips versus celebrity gossip).


So there you have it! Five ways to boost your email open rates that are easy for anyone to implement. Remember, no matter what approach you take, the best way to improve your open rates is through testing.


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