Low Email Open Rate? Check Out These Tips & Tricks

Jun 21, 2022

We’ve all heard it before, “create a catchy subject line to get your consumers to open your emails.” Email marketing is not a new digital marketing concept, but many companies still struggle with open rates because consumers are not engaged or interested in their emails. 

With the fight for consumers' attention more fierce than ever before, open rates are suffering. Engaging consumers on a long-term basis is a difficult challenge. That's why our experts have put together the latest tips and tricks to increase your open rates. 

What is Open Rate and Why is it Important?

In its simplest form, the open rate refers to the percentage of emails opened. You can calculate the open rate by dividing the number of emails sent by the number of emails opened and multiplying it by 100. If you are using an email marketing platform such as MailChimp or HubSpot, they will include the email’s open rate in the email metrics. 

You should check your email metrics often to see how your emails are performing with subscribers. The open rate is an important metric as it informs whether your subject line made it through the sea of marketing emails - a big feat! Once you know your subject line worked and your open rate is healthy, you can move on to analyzing your click-through rate. But that's a subject for another blog. 

Tips to Increase Your Open Rate

We all want those high open rates, but how do we actually achieve that? Once a subscriber opens your email, you want them to stay engaged throughout, and better yet, you want them to click on your links within the email. To help you out, our team of experts has gathered the best practices to improve your open rate. Let’s get started! 

1. Send Emails at the Right Time

Just like it is always important to post on social media at the right time,  sending your emails at the right time will maximize conversions and engagement. You’ll want to pick a time that works best for your customer base/industry. Take a look at your metrics, when is your audience most active? Customers are more likely to open your email if they receive it while they are active online. 

Based on the research from Sendinblue, the best times to send emails are 10 am and between 3 pm and 4 pm. This is because most people are either just beginning their workday or are just coming from lunch and therefore are checking their emails.

Another item to consider is time zones if you have a large number of customers from different time zones, you can segment your audience and send emails based on their time zones. If you’re using an email marketing tool like HubSpot, they’ll automatically send your email based on your subscribers' time zone.

2. Utilize A/B Testing 

Now, if you’re like me, you like to see the data behind the story and A/B testing will do just that! A/B testing is when you send two different emails to two different groups (within the same segment), however, the only difference is something minor. This could be a different color of your CTA button, CTA line, or font. You’ll want to avoid making too many changes because it’ll be challenging to understand which element affected the results. You should also determine how long you want to run an A/B test. Research suggests that you should run a test for at least 7 days. However, the longer you run the test, the more accurate your results are. 

A/B testing is vital because it can help you learn what your audience likes and more importantly, what they don’t like. Most email marketing platforms offer A/B testing or you can manually test.

3. Make Them Personal

No one likes talking to a robot. Your customers want to feel as though the emails they receive are from a human and even if you use a high-powered AI software for email marketing, personalization is still super important. One easy way to make an email personalized is to include the customer’s first name in the email. This opens up the conversation and makes it feel like the email is coming from a friend rather than the company. In most cases, the more organic the better. Sailthru, an email marketing platform found that adding personalization to your emails (i.e a customer’s first name) can increase the open rate by about 18%! 

Additionally, you can further personalize emails based on interests. For example, if a customer interacts with a certain blog on your site, maybe send them a similar blog that would pique their interest. Again, this is all about having a conversation with them. When writing your emails or any other content, try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think about some emails you’ve received that were engaging or personal. What tactics did the company use to make you feel that way? Thinking about content from the customer's perspective will help you create content based on their interests. 

4. Focus on Creating Valuable Content

You can create all the content in the world, but it’ll be worthless if your audience does not find it valuable (and if it doesn’t convert!). Of course, this is much easier said than done. Finding that happy medium with your brand will come with experience, so don't get discouraged if you don't get it right the first time. 

Start with your audience’s interests and segment them based on those interests. Your audience will not find everything you curate valuable, but it’s important to experiment with different types of content. If readers know to expect content from you each month, within a newsletter, for example, that benefits them, they will continue to open subsequent emails from you. 

5. Understand Your Metrics 

It’s all in the numbers! As I said, I like the data behind the story. Before beginning any email marketing campaign, think about what you want to achieve with your email. Every email should have a purpose and more importantly, make your goals attainable. I know we’ve all heard and more than likely are sick of hearing to make SMART goals, but we hear it all the time because it works! However, if you haven't heard about SMART goals, let's get you up to speed. A SMART goal is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Including all of these in the planning phase will help you set the stage for those awesome metrics. Now, back to those metrics!

Yes, your open rate is a vital metric to understand and track, but understanding other aspects can help you increase your open rate. For example, another important metric is conversion and engagement rate. Of course, you want tons of people to open your emails, but better yet, you want them engaged throughout. If customers are opening your emails but not interacting with anything, then you may need to rethink your content. Additionally, here are some other important metrics to track. 

    • Click-through rate refers to how many people clicked on a link in your email. As we mentioned, once a subscriber opens your email, you want them to engage throughout. Review where your subscribers clicked on your email and if some links have little to no clicks, take a moment to think why that would occur. Thinking about the “why” behind the “what” will help you improve your emails over time.
    • Number of opens/reshares is just what it sounds like. It refers to the number of subscribers who opened your email. More than likely, your email marketing platform will show you how many subscribers opened your email and how many times they opened your email. If a subscriber has a high number of opens, they are more than likely resharing your content with someone else, this is a good sign!
    • How could we mention email marketing metrics, without talking about conversion rate?! Conversion rate refers to what desired action you want subscribers to take once they open our email. Remember how we said that every email should have a purpose? This is where that comes in! You want subscribers to take action when they open your email, otherwise, they won't find the content valuable. Ask yourself what action/s you want your subscribers to take and experiment with different CTA types to learn more about your subscribers

6. Avoid SPAM Language and Practices

The dreaded spam/junk email! We all hate getting spam messages and many email platforms such as Google and Microsoft have taken measures to prevent those pesky spam emails from ever entering our inbox. But some of those measures can make it so some of your emails never get to your subscribers. Your email marketing metrics should include those who marked your email as spam. If this number is high, consider the language your email has. Certain language within an email such as “FREE” will automatically list your email as spam. Before writing your email, make sure to review those spam guidelines in order to prevent future occurrences. Here are some easy ways to avoid those spam clicks:

    • Include a physical business address in your email.
    • Allow subscribers to opt-out of your emails and more importantly, honor it when they do.
    • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The important thing here is that yes, you want to entice your subscribers to open your email, but your subject line should still give your subscribers a taste of what the email is about. 

7. Update Your Contact List Frequently 

We all want a high number of contacts, but your contact list will mean nothing if it’s not updated regularly. Having a clean contact list will help you stay organized and more importantly, give you more accurate metrics. We recommend cleaning house annually or once every quarter depending on the size. If you have a large number of subscribers, try taking your list a section at a time, that way you won't feel overwhelmed with the amount. 

Consider deleting duplicates, unengaged contacts, and invalid email addresses. Another thing you may want to do if you’re uneasy about deleting those unengaged contacts is to send them an email to see if they are still interested in receiving your emails. Make sure to include a link where they can unsubscribe. Overall, this saves you time and you have one last chance to entice those contacts to re-engage. 


Having now acquired all the tools needed to improve open rates, let’s reiterate some important things we mentioned. Remember, if you’re just starting, open rates take some time to fully develop, and don't be afraid to experiment with new content to help get those wheels turning. Open rates will not change overnight, it’s a continual process that will need updates when trends and other aspects change. All in all, there are many tactics to increase open rates, but now that you’ve got all the right tools, you’re ready to tackle it head-on — So let’s get to work! 

For more marketing tips and expert advice, check out more of our blogs here

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