How to Increase Email Open Rate and Get Your Emails Read

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Is your email marketing strategy paying off? If you’re wondering why customers aren’t opening your emails, the solution is easier than you think.

Often you don’t need a complete overhaul of your strategy, you just need a few simple tricks to work out how to increase your email open rate.

We’re going to walk you through the best ways to increase email open rates, so you can get your email marketing strategy back on track.

Read on to discover more about how to increase your email open rate.

Why Use Email Marketing?

Email marketing can be one of the most effective ways of communicating with customers and maintaining your customer base. Reach your customers in the place they check everyday – their inbox!

Despite being an age-old marketing tactic, email marketing is still as relevant as ever – according to a 2020 survey, around 50% of people buy from marketing emails at least once a month.

What Is an Email Open Rate?

An email open rate is the percentage of subscribers who open your emails versus those who don’t. For example, if you have 100 subscribers on your mailing list and 70 subscribers open your emails, on average, your email open rate would be 70%.

Most email marketing software will calculate this for you to give you a quick overview of how your email marketing strategy is performing. If your email open rate is low, then your subscribers are not being enticed to open your emails, and therefore your email marketing strategy is falling short of your targets. And that’s when you start to ask how to increase open rates of email marketing!

Why Do Email Open Rates Matter?

Email open rates offer an important way to measure the success of your marketing strategy. If you can get subscribers to open your emails, you are giving them something of value, while maintaining their customer loyalty. Not only can it consolidate your existing customer base, but it can also draw one-time customers back to your online store.

Also, the more subscribers open your emails, the more people are seeing your content – whether you’re promoting a sale, announcing important updates, or sharing exclusive content, the more open rates you have, the more effective your emails will be!

What Is a Good Email Open Rate?

In 2020, the average open rate across all industries was 21.3%. In 2021, the overall average open rate dropped and stood at 16.97%. But trends indicate that after a slump, there is always an increase – so 2023 looks like it could be a good year for email marketing!

When it comes to your own email open rate, the percentage may be different for different industries. Open rates in the insurance industry, for example, are much higher than those in the healthcare industry.

It’s always best to judge your email open rate based on the performance of your campaign as a whole. For example, if you consistently reach a 15% open rate, yet your campaign is delivering results, it’s clear that your email marketing campaign is not under performing, even if the email open rate is below the “industry average.”

How to Increase Email Open Rates

#1. Clean Your Data

In order for your subscribers to even receive your emails, you need to make sure their email address is still in use. People change emails for all sorts of reasons, so don’t assume old emails in your database are still current.

We’d recommend scrubbing your email list at least a few times a year to improve your open and click-through rates. This will help you focus your marketing efforts on the people who can actually turn into customers.

Cleansing your email list will also reduce the risk of the emails bouncing and spam complaints. These factors count towards your sender reputation and make sure your emails are seen by your active subscribers – the subscribers most likely to purchase.

Before removing inactive subscribers (i.e. someone who has not engaged with an email in the past six months or more), try sending them a last email to win them back and re-engage your inactive subscribers.

Don’t have a list? Learn how to get email lists here.

Advice from the Experts

Top tip: use an email verification tool to clean your mailing list.

Use an email verification tool such as Kickbox or Mail Floss to clean out inactive or invalid addresses before sending. Simply import your subscribers and you can validate them in bulk. The nominal cost of cleaning your list using one of these tools is worth it: you reduce the risk of damaging your sending reputation and can ensure that your list is healthy and results in opens and clicks.

#2. Focus On Brand Awareness & Trust

You’ll want your subscribers to recognize the emails they receive from you – after all, if they know and trust your business, they’re far more likely to open the email and take a look.

A big part of this is eye-catching content that is consistent with your marketing and branding strategy. Consider using your business name in the subject line, using a branded email address, and a consistent voice and tone for content.

Make it as easy as possible for your subscribers to recognize your emails and foster trust with consistent content and a clear value offering. For example, every time you create an email, ask yourself, “What is in it for the subscriber?” Why should they open this email, and why should they then take action?”

#3. Use an Awesome Subject Line

A snappy, eye-catching subject line can be the difference between an email that gets opened, and one that doesn’t.

Here are a few tips for writing email subject lines that will make subscribers want to click:

  • Use your own brand voice and strike a conversational tone
  • Use active verbs to draw people in and convey a sense of motion
  • Use power words to draw an emotive response from your subscribers
  • Ask questions to inspire curiosity or urgency to encourage them to engage
  • Personalize your subject lines with the subscriber’s name

There are so many tips and tricks to craft enticing subject lines, ultimately it’ll differ from business to business. We’d recommend crafting a few different ones and A/B testing them with users to understand which ones would work better for your audience. You’ll also be able to see how your emails appear on cell phones.

Here are some examples of killer subject lines: 

  • Struggling to find the perfect gift for [mom/dad]?
  • Don’t wait. Save % [percent off] this week at [your business].
  • 3 gift ideas for your [brother/sister/uncle/cousin] that you didn’t think of.
  •  5 reasons to attend [name of your event].
  • Don’t miss our December [specials/offers/events].

For more tips, read our article on how to write for the web.

Advice from the Experts

Top tip: avoid the spam folder!

Be careful when using certain words in your subject lines, as these can mean your emails end up in the dreaded spam folder and are never even seen! It’ll also affect your sender reputation. Try to avoid using the following words in your subject lines so your email won’t be treated as spam:

  • Free
  • Cancel at any time
  • Click here
  • Congratulations
  • Great offer
  • Order now
  • Special promotion
  • Winner
  • Amazing

#4. Get Personal

Using your subscriber’s name in the subject line is a great way of breaking the fourth wall and making them feel like you’re just sending the email to them, and no one else.

Of course, this isn’t true and the subscriber knows that. But the personalized nature of the subject line instantly draws them in, particularly when the email is written in a tone that is directed at the individual rather than the audience as a whole.

It feels less like a mailing list and more like an email from a friend. You can take advantage of this by striking a conversational tone, and offering them personalized offers that speak to their interests. You can use data to include key recipient information, so you can insert their name into each subject line.

#5. Segment Your Data

One of the first things that your subscribers will look for, is whether the email is relevant to them. If it’s not, they’re unlikely to open it. To increase the relevancy of your email campaigns, we recommend segmenting your data so you can personalize emails based on:

  • Role or job title
  • Demographic
  • Stage in the sales cycle
  • Average order value
  • Time on email list

Lyris found that 39% of businesses who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue:

how to increase email open rates lyris segmentation graph example
Lyris discovered that 39% of businesses that segmented their email lists saw increased open rates.

You could also segment your data by grouping your subscribers into different categories. For example, you could group them according to similar pain points, desires, likes, and dislikes.

Finally, you could use behavioral segmentation to target subscribers depending on how they behave on your website. For example, you could send subscribers an email when they visit a specific page on your website.

email open rates location segmentation pomelo example
Pomelo Travel uses segmentation to send subscribers flight deals from their home cities.

#6. Nail Your Timing

Sometimes, it’s really a question of timing. But with an email list made up of people all over the globe, how do you get the timing right for everyone? We’d also encourage you to consider: what kind of information are you sending? And to whom? These are important factors to think about when deciding the best time to send emails.

You can ensure that your emails are sent at the same time of day depending on time zone by segmenting your data according to subscriber location. Unfortunately, there is usually no “golden hour” when your subscribers are most likely to open your emails. The best way to find out when your subscribers are most responsive, is to test.

This is what MailChimp has to say about optimal times:

email open rates mailchimp optimal time graph
Email marketing service Mailchimp shows that Thursday is a commonly successful day to send emails if you want good open rates, However, weekends tend to perform poorly.

The one thing the most studies have in common is that weekends are the worst possible time to send emails. But, remember that these studies were done with someone else’s email list – not yours.

The best way to find out the optimum time to send emails is to experiment by sending emails on different days, and at different times.

#7. Write Great Content

Subscribers will likely be receiving several emails a day from different mailing lists, so how can you make sure your email stands out from the rest? Well, that’s easy. Make your content as enticing, informative, and consistent as possible by providing value, keeping it short and sweet, and injecting a bit of humor to lighten the mood.

Subscribers are far more likely to open your emails, engage with the content, and stay subscribed if they feel that it’s worth their time. Give them a reason to keep reading!

And remember, less is more. The best emails are ones that demonstrate value in as few words as possible, making them digestible and more engaging to your subscribers.

#8. Make Emails Mobile Friendly

This may seem like a minor point, but it’s super important! 85% of users use smartphones to check their email, so you need to make sure your emails look as good on cell phones as they do on a desktop browser.

Try using as few words as possible in your subject line, so that it doesn’t get lost when the screen size is smaller. And finally, make sure that you test your emails on a cell phone before sending them.


So, now you know how to increase open rates on emails!

Clearly, email marketing is not going anywhere. In fact,  80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention – so it’s really important that you nail your email marketing campaign using email marketing best practices!

Make your emails as recognizable and valuable as possible by maintaining consistency with your content and branding. Test, test, and test again to understand when is best to send emails, what kind of content resonates with your subscribers, and what kind of subject lines draw them in.

Segment data and personalize subject lines emails to increase the relevance of your emails, so you can develop trust in your brand with your customer base.


This really depends on what your business is selling, and what your marketing strategy is. Have a think on which types of customers you want to focus on to drive sales. You may want to focus an incentive on those who haven’t made a purchase for a while, or subscribers who make a lot of purchases. A good place to start is to group into similar pain points, desires, likes and dislikes, then go from there.
There are a few different free online tools that you can use to test your subject lines for spam, convertibility and how it would look on a cell phone. Two of the biggest are Omnisend and Best Subject Line, which you can also use to generate high-scoring subject lines for different occasions and promotions. We’d also recommend testing the subject lines on real humans – a sample size of five people would probably be sufficient.
Take a look above to see how to improve email open rates. The most important things you could do are: segment your data, clean your data and write an enticing subject line. These three actions are guaranteed to increase email open rates for your email marketing campaigns.
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