Increase Email Open Rate: Email Marketing Guide For Beginners (2019)

Do you want to increase your email open rates? In this guide, you can reach some useful methods to boost your email open rates. We hope you enjoy it. 

As we have known for many years, in order to benefit from your email list, your emails must be opened. There are many articles about the importance of the click-through rate. However, the click-through rate is entirely dependent on the open rate of emails.

We should increase email open rates because it is obvious that unless people open your email, there’s no chance for them to click on it!

There are some key points we need to mention in this case. Before we start let’s describe email open rates.

What is an E-mail Open Rate and How to Calculate It?

A lot of people consider the email open rates as the number of people who open the email. However, this is not an accurate description of email open rates. We are talking about a very important metric that we really need to understand properly.

An email is counted as opened if one of these two conditions occur;

The first condition is,

– The reader allows images in the email to be displayed in the full view of the email or preview pane.

and the second condition is,

– The reader clicks a link in the email.

Open rates are calculated by email service providers. ESPs consider the number of people who open the email and dividing it by the number of emails sent that failed to reach the reader.

For example, if you sent out 100 emails, 20 bounced, and 10 were opened, you would have an open rate of 12.5%.

What is an Average Email Open Rate?

Before we start, you should know that the average email open rate differs from country to country and industry to industry. According to MailChimp’s current data,

  • The most opened emails are related to hobbies, with an open rate of 27.35%.
  • Emails sent by government entities come in second, with a 26.52% open rate.
  • With a 26.03% open rate, emails about the arts and artists came in third.

However, they found out that the average email open rate of all industries is 20.81%.

Also, they detect top 3 industries by click rate. According to their survey,

  • Hobbies have a 4.78% industry standard email open rates.
  • Media and Publishing have 4.55% industry standard email open rates.
  • The government has a 3.65% industry standard email open rates.

After getting a theoretical background in email open rates. It’s time to increase email open rate stats!

How to Increase Email Open Rates

1. Create an Organic Email List

Quality of an email list is more valuable than the quantity. This is why companies that try to buy large quantities of leads to jump-start their marketing programs will find their open rates very low.  Offering free trial, running a contest in exchange for an email address, or offering an easy way of subscribing are far better ways to build your list organically.

email list building by subscription formed popups

Popups like above are very useful tools in creating an organic email list. You may purchase them for your website from a popup provider company like Popupsmart in order to offer your visitors to easily become a subscriber of your email list.

popupsmart's email collection type popup design example

2. Keep Your List Fresh

Don’t forget to update your email list and remove inactive subscribers. You may want to send an email to people who have not engaged in the past 6 months or more. You can simply evaluate the chance of re-engagement. After that, by eliminating your list, get rid of them. According to Oracle, “invalid rates are the fastest way to trigger filtering and blocking on your new IP.”

email marketing illustration

Also, if you want to keep your list fresh try to check your subscribers. You can do that by asking whether they would like to update their preferences and information. It would be great to make them feel comfortable about their preferences and the way they engage with your business.

3. Segment Your List

Why You Need to Segment Your Email List?
Opens 14.31% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Unique Opens 10.64% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Clicks 100.95% higher than non-segmented campaigns
Bounces 4.65% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Abuse Reports 3.90% lower than non-segmented campaigns
Unsubscribers 9.37% lower than non-segmented campaigns

People tend to open emails with regards to its’ relevancy. Think about yourself, when you decide whether or not to open an email, you choose the relevant ones. By segmenting your email, you will be able to provide this to your customers.

You can start the segmentation process by adding tags to your subscribers based on their behaviors and preferences. Arranging different emails based on different groups is useful. Furthermore, managing your ongoing emails based on demographics such as age or location is always a good idea.

If you know your consumers, it becomes easy to decide everything else such as subject lines and messages.

MailChimp scanned our system for MailChimp scanned their users who use their list segmentation tools and sampled about 2,000 MailChimp users who sent about 11,000 segmented campaigns to almost 9 million recipients. They compared the results of those segmented campaigns to the results of the same customers’ non-segmented campaigns.

So, try to increase email open rates organically by email segmentation and don’t forget the golden rule,

”RELEVANCY!”

4. Avoid Spam Filters

The common problem of email marketing is that your emails can be sent to your visitors’ spam folder.

In this case, you should have,

  • A good IP address
  • A good email service
  • A clean template code
  • A verified domain

Include a clear unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address.

Mailing example to avoid Spam Filters.

  • Use branding in your “from” name.

Importance of branding to increase email open rate.

Send emails to people who have actually opted-in to receiving your emails. After that, use merge tags to personalize of your email. After gaining the trust of your consumers you may ask them to add you to their address book. Don’t use spam trigger words in order not to considered as spam filters. Finally, don’t forget to include your location in your emails. These tips will be useful to increase email open rates.

5. Timing is Everything

Timing has a massive effect on increasing open rates of your emails. You should think wisely about your email schedule. You should definitely perform A/B tests to figure out which timeframes perform best. Once you have understood the perfect timing, you will have a huge difference in your conversion rate. Mailchimp’s Data shows that the best time of the week to send emails is on weekdays versus weekends.

Also, they have found out that, the optimal time of day to send emails is at 10 AM in the recipients’ own time zone. These statistics are useful to improve email open rates, right?

Mailchimp's mailing report graphic for optimal day of week.

Mailchimp's mailing report graphic for optimal send times by hour of day.

6. Pay Attention to the Subject Line

  • Make people curious to open your emails.
  • Numbers are eye-catching elements of documents. Inserting numbers into emails will be helpful to improve email open rates.
  • Use an engaging language.
  • Talk like a friend. Stay away from the terms like, ‘’discount, subscribe, pay’’.
  • Instead of using percentages and dollar signs, include symbols to your subject line.
  • Stay away from phrases like, ‘’get rid of, shocking, the secret of, won’t believe, aim, quickest’’. These are irritating people and decrease the trustworthiness of your email.
  •  Urgent subject lines that indicate ending sales or offers is another style that has proven to be successful.

Email subject line example.

Also, you may want to use a free Email Subject Line Tester Tool to measure the success of your subject line.

7. Character Count

In a study called, “The Art and Science of Effective Subject Lines,” Return Path found that emails with subject lines between 61–70 characters were read most, at a rate of 17 percent. Don’t forget to think about smartphones and desktops?

Will your target customers use smartphone or desktop to look at emails?

In general, desktops show roughly 60 characters and mobile devices about 25–30. Better take into consideration the dimension and character count to improve email open rates.

8. Understand Their Needs

Another effective way to increase the opening rates of your emails is by writing an email to the individual person. You may add a personalized subject line on the email.

This way, you will be able to understand your customer’s needs and desires and improve your services to make them happy. 

Great email subject line example to increase email open rates.

9. Use an Engaging Language

Imagine you’re sending an email to your friend about one of your product. Well, actually you should write your emails like referring a friend to hook them into your email. Otherwise, they might not open your emails at all. Have a look at this example from Scoop.it! to have a better understanding.

Using engaging language to increase email open rates.

10. Optimize for Mobile

Have a look at these statistics to understand the importance of mobile optimization.

  • Emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within three seconds (Adestra)
  • Mobile users check their email 3x more. (Google)
  • Mobile email traffic is more valuable than desktop clicks. (Yesmail)
  • 52% of customers are less likely to engage with a company because of bad mobile experience. (Wow Local Marketing)
  • 73% of companies surveyed prioritize mobile device optimization of emails. (Smart Insights)

As you see, mobile is huge.

The piechart of devices that is used for email marketing.

You must have a responsive system to appeal to mobile users and have high conversion rates from your campaigns.

11. Make an A/B Test

Through A/B tests you can measure the success of your campaign regarding different parameters. For example, it is useful to figure out if your email opening rate is increased by email subject lines with numbers or not. Or you may make a split test to figure out the impressions of emojis. It’s all up to you and your expectations. Decide what you want to analyze and make an A/B test to increase email open rates.

12. Get Ready for Your Trustworthy IP

You need to prove the trustworthiness of your IP for ISP filters because they stand for defending against spam emails.

You should send your emails by addressing that you are engaged. The process of building a trust is directly related to the opening rates of your emails. You should balance between the number of emails and your engaging manner.

13. Register a Sub-Domain

You should build a sub-domain for email marketing efforts. It’s not an obligation for everyone. However, it might be useful for the domain-specific monitoring of your IP reputation.

14. Check Your Sender Reputation

If you have low sender score then your emails will automatically be rejected by ISPs and won’t be delivered. Wait! What is this Sender Score?

Let me explain it, clearly.

Sender Score is basically an algorithm that ranks every outgoing mail server’s IP address. It shows your sender reputation on a scale of 0 – 100. Some email metrics determine the Sender Score such as unsubscribes or spam reports. If you wonder your Sender Score, go to Return Path’s registration page.

Return Path's page to measure Sender Score.

15. Double Opt-In form

Using a double opt-in form is always a good idea to avoid spam complaints and improve email open rates. You can send a confirmation email to the new subscriber in order to prove their address and build the agreement.

16. Implement a Sender Policy Framework

As a short line of text that added to domains txt record, it is stored in the domain name system in cooperation with A, PTR, and MX records. That means it increases your quality reputation with regard to the receiving email server. The server can check the domain name against the IP address to make sure about its’ authorization. If it can’t find an SPF in place, your emails will probably be rejected. You can check your SPF record with DMARC.

17. Look at Blacklists

DNS-based blacklists are created to protect users from IPs that have received a high volume of spam reports. You shouldn’t be on the list. It won’t be good to increase email open rates. You can use MXToolbox to check your situation on the blacklist. Let’s summarize what we’ve learned from this guide.

Now you have a better understanding of email open rates.

You know;

  • What is an email open rate and how to calculate it,
  • The average open rate of all industries,
  • How to increase email open rates,
  • The technical necessities that you need to do for more emails delivered.

As a consequence, these tips can be useful to increase email open rates. You should remember that email marketing requires a long process. Better make experiments in order to get better results!

Every business is unique and valuable. You should create your own tactics to find the best solution for your business. We tried to give you detailed information about the milestones of email marketing. Especially, about email open rates. As long as you want to be successful, there is no obstacle in your career path.

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Also, if you have another ideas or techniques to improve email open rates, let us know in the comments.

Thank you for your time.