17 Proven Tips to Increase Email Open Rate | Beginner's Guide 2023

If you want to know how to increase email open rates effectively, you'll need to employ a combination of tactics and think creatively, and that is what this guide is all about.

Email marketing is so old that it’s almost impossible to imagine the digital advertising industry without it.

If your business relies on emails to promote products and services, you can’t ignore your emails’ open rates.

The success of your campaigns depends on this metric!

Lucky for you, we've put together a comprehensive list of tips and practices to help you boost your email marketing and have a good email open rate.

Keep reading to find out more.

a title that says "Increase email open rate, email marketing guide for beginners" with a 3D illustration of a hand holding a mobile that is showing an email inbox

Why Does Email Open Rate Matter?

Your email open rate matters because it directly affects the success of your email marketing campaign.

To put it another way, it’s the percentage of emails delivered to your list and how many people have opened those emails that counts.

However, it is important to note that there is a difference between open rates and click-through rates (CTR).

an ios email app showing email notification

Your email click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on the links in your email against the total number of subscribers who received the email.

Now let's find out what is the email open rate.

What is an Email Open Rate and How to Calculate It?

a laptop showing email open rate stats charts

A lot of people consider 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 need to understand properly.

In order to count an email as opened, it must meet one of these two conditions;

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

2. 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 divide 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%.

Learn More: What is Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR) in Email Marketing?

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 detected the top 3 industries by click rate. According to their survey,

➤ Hobbies have a 4.78% industry standard email open rates.

➤ Media and publishing have a 4.55% industry standard email open rates.

➤ The government has a 3.65% industry standard email open rates.

Now that you have 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 or Quantity? This is the question.

The 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. 

a discount popup examples to grow email list with a picture of the product oin the left

Offering a 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.

a discount popup to grow email list with a green CTA that says "get my 15% discount"

Popups like the above are very useful tools in creating an organic email list.

You try to create your customized popups with a good popup builder and offer your visitors an easy way to subscribing to your email list.

All you need to do is to log in to your Popupsmart account and choose from different pre-made templates a popup and customize it with your brands overall style.

a simple email popup pre-made template from Popupsmart

You'de be amazed to see how a simple template like the example below can turn to a highly customized and converting tool to boost your email marketing campaigns.

Grow Your Email List with Popupsmart Now!

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, and then eliminate them from your list.

According to Oracle:

“invalid rates are the fastest way to trigger filtering and blocking on your new IP.”

Also, if you want to keep your list fresh, try to check up on your subscribers every once in while and see if they engage or not.

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

People tend to open emails with regards to their relevancy. Think about yourself, when you decide whether or not to open an email, don't you choose the relevant ones?

By segmenting your email, you will be able to provide this to your customers. The following table can give you more reasons why you need to segment your email list.

Email Segmentation Statistics
 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.
 Unsubscribes  9.37% lower than non-segmented campaigns.

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 their system for 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.

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 in your email footer and try to optimize it as much as possibe.

a shopify email footer example with a clear unsubscribe button

Use branding in your “from” name:

an email inbox that is showing email sunject lines and email senders

Send emails to people who have actually opted-in to receiving your emails. After that, use merge tags to personalize your emails. After gaining your consumers' trust you may ask them to add you to their address book.

Don’t use spam trigger words so as not to be blocked by spam filters. Finally, don’t forget to include your location in your emails. These tips will be useful to increase email open rates.

What is opt-out?

What do single opt-in and double opt-in mean?

5. Timing is Everything

Timing has a massive effect on increasing your emails' open rates . You should think wisely about your email schedule. You should definitely perform A/B tests to figure out which timeframes perform best.

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

Once you have understood the perfect timing, you will notice a huge difference in your conversion rates. Mailchimp’s Data shows that the best time of the week to send emails is on weekdays versus weekends.

Also, according to our email marketing statistic report, the best day for open rates is Friday, and the best day for click-through rate is Tuesday.

Moreover, they found that the optimal time of day to send out 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

6. Pay Attention to the Subject Line

Your email subject line is the key indicator that can boost your open rate. Here are some tips to consider while writing your subject line: email inbox screenshot showing different marketing emails' subject lines

  • Try to use wordplay and write funny email subject lines.

  • Make people curious to open your emails.

  • Numbers are eye-catching elements for documents. Inserting numbers into emails will help improve email open rates.

  • Use encouraging and engaging language.

  • Talk like a friend. Stay away from terms like, ‘’discount, subscribe, pay’’.

  • Instead of using percentages and dollar signs, include symbols in your subject lie.

  • Stay away from phrases like, "get rid of, shocking, the secret of, won’t believe, aim, quickest". These are irritating and decrease yur emails' trustworthiness.

  • Urgent subject lines that indicate ending sales or offers is another style that has proven to be successful.

Do you want to learn more about how to write effective email subject lines?

You can use Popupsmart's Email Markup Preview tool to make your email campaigns more attractive as well.

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. Don't Forget the 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 at a rate of 17 percent. Don’t forget to think about smartphones and desktops.

Will your target customers use smartphones or desktops to read 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 Recipients' Needs

Another effective way to increase the open rates of your emails is by writing a personalized email to the individual in question. 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 Engaging Language

Imagine you’re sending an email to your friend about one of your products. 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 example

10. Optimize for Mobile

a mobile email inbox

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.

What is A/B Test?

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.

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 manner of engagement.

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 by the unsubscriptions or spam reports. If you want to know 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 verify 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.

What is email blacklist?

How to Increase Your Email Open Rate Infographic

17 tips to increase email open rate infographics

We like sharing our knowledge with our visitors! You are very welcome to use our infographics on your own website for presenting an excellent information guide on how to increase email open rates.

To Sum Up ...

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.

You should remember that email marketing is a long process and requires patience . 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 some 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.

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