How to boost email open rates

Getting people to open your marketing emails is crucial, so how do you get more of them to do that? Let's look at some of the options.

Marketing emails provide you with a low-cost way to stay connected to your audiences, build brand equity and drive sales, but people have to open them for it to work.

If they're not, it usually indicates one of all of the following is a problem:

  • Your subject line isn't compelling enough
  • Your audience is too broad instead of being defined
  • You're sending too little or too often

The subject line is the first thing to address. It's got to compel your audience to open your emails to find out what's inside which means it has to be relevant, interesting and captivating. We've found that leading with words such as NEW, EXCLUSIVE, LATEST, OFFER, TIME-LIMITED and others like these can help. Research by Mailchimp suggests that subjects work best when they consist of nine words or fewer, are under 60 characters, and contain limited punctuation. Emojis can also be useful, but never more than one (and use them to describe words, not replace them).

Relevance and personalisation are really important too. Not everyone in your audience will have the same interests, and so a one-size-fits-all email to everyone will potentially lead to lower open rates. Instead, try segmenting your audience and sending more tailored emails. For instance, if you sell clothing for men and women, split your audience along these lines and send two different emails each with its own tailored subject line. If you're an estate agent, you could try segmenting your email list into buyers, sellers and investors. It's about sending the right content to the right people.

Sending frequency can also affect your open rates. Send too often and people get overwhelmed and stop opening your emails; not enough and you risk them forgetting who you are, why they're getting emails from you and why they should care what you have to say. It's important to set people's expectations when they join your list (tell them how often they're likely to hear from you) and to then live up to the expectations you create by emailing at the suggested frequency. Remember, as a rule-of-thumb, sending too often generally has more of a negative impact that sending too infrequently.

How do you know if your open rates need improving? According to Mailchimp, the average email open rate across all industries is 21.33%.

Open Rate = (Emails Opened / Emails Sent) x 100

💡BONUS TIP: just before you press 'send' on your next email marketing campaign, put a post on your social media pages telling people to expect it in their inboxes shortly - it's a way to prime your followers that are also email subscribers so they are more likely to look out for it.

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