11 Tried and Tested Tactics to Triple Your Email Open Rate 

Mary Neoh
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The email open rate is the first benchmark that concerns all marketers since it has a domino effect on the success of the whole campaign. It would seem like a daunting task to triple your email open rate if the recipient doesn’t open the email. The promotion or content within the email (no matter how good) will remain unknown.

This will result in a low email open rate, no click through, no opt-in, zero sales and no new subscribers.

As a marketer, if the results of your past email campaigns have been below 22.15%—which is the average across industries—you may be under pressure to prove to your management that this marketing channel is still viable.

In this age of technology, is it still worth investing marketing dollars in emails instead of social media like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest?

Why Investing in Your Email Open Rate Matters

Consider these stats:

We can expect the number of email and social media users to increase every year. So why not include social media as an additional channel to engage with users in your long term marketing strategy?

That being said, email as a 47-year-old marketing method is still relevant today:

  • 77% of consumers prefer email as the primary marketing channel compared to 4% on Facebook and 5% on text messaging (SMS).

  • 77% of B2B marketers use email marketing to drive visits and sales to their websites.

  • 73% of millennials prefer to receive business communications from emails. (Adestra, 2016)

  • 46% of brands are increasing their overall email marketing budget.

  • 66% of consumers have made purchases last year because of receiving an email marketing message.

Radicati Group forecasted that people around the world will send out 306.4 billion business and consumer emails in a day by 2020.

The statistics clearly show that email marketing is still the preferred communication method. So it’s important to maintain it in your overall marketing strategy while implementing effective tactics to boost the email open rate.

Your emails have to stand out in the inundated inboxes of your recipients. These tactics not only help your email stand out, they can also triple the open rate of your next email campaign.

Tactic #1: The Subject Line Can Be the Deal Breaker

A recipient will decide within seconds whether to open, delete, report as spam, or ignore your email based on the subject line.

Taking the time to write a suitable subject line for each campaign can help you increase your email open rate.

Write Subject Lines that Can Boost Your Email Open Rate

  1. Have a clear and direct subject line with actionable words.

  2. Personalize by adding the name of the recipient in the subject line. Having the recipient's name can have open rate of 18.3% compared to 15.5% without.

  3. Put a smile on their faces with your sense of humor. You can add a touch of playfulness to the subject line, making it unforgettable to the reader. Use jokes that don’t come across as insensitive or offensive to different genders, religions, body types, jobs, age, etc.

  4. Create urgency through the subject line. Set a deadline to your promotion to add urgency. Mention the limited stock available to create a sense of scarcity. Let the readers know what they will miss out if they don’t open the email. 

  5. Subject line with emojis have an average open rate of 45%. Preview the subject to check whether the emoji looks right and important words are not lost in the emoji.

  6. Add a number digit on the subject line, to increase the average email open rate from 51.9% to 53.2%. The number in the subject line gives a hint that within the email, the readers can expect to learn several things in an organised manner that will save them time reading. When you use numbers in the subject to show a time sensitive promotion, it’s effective to stir the reader into action.

  7. Title case your subject line to raise the average open rate from 51.9% to 54.3%. It is an increase of 2.4% from an analysis conducted by Yesware. The best practice is to capitalize the first letter of each word in the subject line.

  8. Have mobile friendly subject lines to increase the open rate, keeping the ideal length between 1-5 words, not exceeding 7 words or working within 17-24 characters.

Tactic #2: Personalization Builds a Relationship

Personalizing the sender, subject line, and the content also encourages a higher email open rate. The sender matters, as 64% of subscribers open an email based on who the email is from.

A simple change of using a personal name instead of a company name or a general email address as the sender can increase open rates by 35%! Yet  a surprising 89% of emails sent are still from a company name. So sending emails using your personal name will make yours stand out.

Personalization doesn’t stop at the sender or subject line. Writing relevant and relatable content also builds personalization and a relationship with your subscribers.

“Personalization goes beyond adding someone’s first name in the subject line. Marketers should use the information they know about their customers to provide them with emails filled with relevant content.”—Shane Phair, Chief Marketing Officer of Campaign Monitor

Boost Email Open Rate with Personalization

1. Write your email using an informal and friendly tone just like writing to a friend. Avoid only writing about features and benefits provided by your company. Sometimes, sharing a little of your personal details or updates that are relevant can add personalization.

“The most effective emails come when they’re written from human to human...Too many marketers write emails to their list forgetting that there’s a person on the other side of that computer screen reading what you write. So write your emails as you might talk to a friend... Would you be more personal? Add a joke? Say something heartfelt? If so, do that.” —Val Geisler, email conversion strategist and copywriter

2. You can add personalisation by having a consistent design for all your emails. This can build personal branding, brand awareness, and familiarity.

3. Avoid using “donotreply@comzpny.com“as a sender. Subscribers like to have a legitimate email address they can contact if they need to. So show credibility and personalization by using a personalized address.

4. Sign off using a real email signature. Include your real contact details so if the reader needs to connect with you, there is an avenue to do so and to build rapport with them.

Tactic #3: Provide Quality Content to Win Trust

Don't stop providing relevant content since it is a long term strategy for building brand awareness, trust, and connection with your subscribers so they won't hesitate to open your emails.

“Subscribers don’t want to waste time on emails that are just generic or uninteresting. Instead, try offering them valuable content, one that’s tailored to their preferences. Your results will soar.” —Michal Leszczynski, Content Marketing Manager of GetResponse

Increase Email Open Rate Through Quality Content

  1. Build personalization through content. When you understand your buyer’s persona, it will help you write targeted content that meets the needs of your subscribers. Personalize your content to either help subscribers develop themselves, gain more knowledge or solve their problems.

  2. Proof read your emails to check grammar and typos to make your emails look professional and credible.

Tactic #4: Send Targeted Emails Through Segmentation

Using CRM software like HubSpot to organize your email database in different segments to make your email campaigns relevant and effective can increase your email open rate.

Segmentation optimizes your email campaign by putting your email in front of the RIGHT audience.

A study showed that email campaigns that used segmented database resulted in:

  • 39% increase in email open rate

  • 28% lower unsubscribe rates

  • 24% experienced better deliverability

  • 24% experienced an revenue increase

Segmentation is important because you wouldn’t want subscribers to unsubscribe just because they're frustrated from receiving emails that are unrelated to them.

“Relevance is perhaps the most important factor in successful email marketing. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you’re writing to real people. Before sending out every single campaign, put yourself in the shoes of the target audience.” —Max Model, Chief Marketing Officer of Newsletter2Go

Segment Your Contact List for a Better Email Open Rate

  1. Segment your database according to demographics such as gender, age, education, income, etc.

  2. Segmentation according to psychographics such as lifestyle, interest, and behavior activity, is also effective.

  3. Consider segmenting your list based on location, purchase behavior, engagement and where they are at in the buyer’s journey.

  4. You can even segment by industry, the size of the company, or the sales cycle of the recipients.

Tactic #5: Have an End in Mind

Subheads, the first snippet in your email that appears next to your subject line, can get the email open rate to increase to an average of 27.82%. That’s because a subhead gives the recipients an idea of the main message of the email.

If your email confuses the readers, they won’t know what you expect them to do after reading it. This will cause a low click through, a poor number of opt-ins, and disappointing sales numbers.

Boost Email Open Rate Though Clear Messages

  1. Be specific and make the message of the email concise.

  2. State the outcome or action you expect from the reader. Use actionable words or phrases such as “Download Now”, “Reserve Your Spot”, and “Read The Ebook” to give them a gentle nudge to click on the Call-to-Action (CTA).

  3. Less is more in email marketing so don’t have too many images, multiple CTAs or multiple offers in one email.

  4. Use bright colors that are eye catching.

  5. Add white space around the call-to-action.

  6. Keep to only one CTA in the email.

  7. Best to keep the call-to-action above the fold, which is near the top of the message, so that readers don’t miss it when they are scanning through the email.

Tactic #6: Build a Bond from the Start

Start building a bond with your new subscribers from the get-go by striking the iron while it's hot. Statistics show that 82.21% of new subscribers will open a welcome email so take advantage of this and send them a welcome email within the first 24 hours.

A regular email routine has a higher email open rate because your subscribers will come to expect and even look out for your emails.

Building Strong Bonds Through Familiarity

  1. Have an automated email sequence for all new subscribers.

  2. Concentrate on adding tons of value in your email sequence by providing quality content interspersed with a promotion leading to an offer.

  3. Send consecutive emails to help build connection and familiarity with the subscriber from the start.

  4. Keep in contact, yet don’t bombard subscribers with emails several times a day. An average office worker receives 121 emails daily. So keep that in mind when deciding how often you want to email your subscribers. Make it count.

  5. Beware of email fatigue and forgetfulness. If you email subscribers too often, it will frustrate them and they will unsubscribe.

But if the interval between emails is too long, they will either forget about you or the reason they subscribed to your emails. Hence, they with either ignore or delete them. After the initial email sequence, limit emailing your subscribers to once or twice a week.

Some companies allow the subscribers to choose how often and when they want to receive emails from you. For example, one or twice a week, one a month, only when there is a new content published, or new promotional offers.

Tactic #7: Mobility Wins the Race

We read more emails on our mobiles than on desktops.

Make emails scannable for readers on mobile. They may be multi-tasking, reading emails while on the move using their mobile phones.

Write a Mobile Friendly Email

  1. Write an attention-grabbing headline to attract readers to open the email.

  2. Combine witty and catchy headlines with interesting content to keep readers engaged until the end.

  3. Write content that is concise and direct. Use short sentences to facilitate reading on a mobile.

  4. Preview your email to check whether readers can read it with ease on a mobile device.

  5. Add appealing mobile friendly images to complement the email.

  6. Check the size of the image used. Ensure that it's not so big that it’s cut off on a mobile device. Test how long and how easily the image downloads. 

Tactic #8: SPAM...the Downfall of Emails

Beware of words used in the subject line that will send an email straight to spam. Email content that sounds too pushy, desperate, or over promising will not be spared from the spam box either.

Avoid the Spam Box

  1. Educate your recipients to whitelist your emails. 

  2. Impress upon your readers the benefits of whitelisting… they will not miss out on new products, latest launches, great promotions, freebies or quality content from you.

  3. You can have new subscribers do a double opt-in by verifying through email that they want to receive emails from your business or yourself. The email open rate can be higher this way since the subscribers will expect to hear from you in the future.

Tactic #9: Timing Is Everything

Finding the best time of day when subscribers are most likely to open your emails can greatly affect email open rates.

Determine the Right Time to Send Email

  1. MailChimp found the best days to send emails are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday peaking around 10am.

  2. Experian found their email open rate higher on weekends. Weekends can have a good open rate if your email is not work related since there are fewer emails sent on weekends.

  3. HubSpot, after gathering information from 20 million emails sent in 10 months, found the highest email open rate is on Tuesday at 11am (the recipient’s time zone).

  4. Finding a best time that garners the highest open rates comes through trial and error. So test out different timing to determine what time and day works best for you.

  5. Sometimes it’s not because of timing that causes a low open rate. Subscribers could have missed the email the first time or forgot to open it.

  6. It‘s worth resending the same email to those who didn’t open the mail the first time. You have a chance to convert these leads the second time round.

“My biggest secret is… resend your emails. For any campaign where there is the potential for conversions, resend your email to anyone who didn’t open the email the first time. I typically resend emails between 24-48 hours after the initial delivery. I’ve seen up to 40% of overall conversions come off a resend (but typically 20-30%).”— Adam Q. Holden-Bache, Director of Email Marketing at Enventys Partners

Tactic #10: Let’s Keep It Fresh

Keep your email database current by taking out subscribers who haven’t opened your email or engaged with you for the past 6 months or longer.

Quality leads beat a long list that is unverified and poor in quality. They can also have better deliverability, resulting in better open rates.

Optimize Your Database for a Higher Email Open Rate

  1. Don’t buy email lists. The quality of leads are poor and there are lots of wrong addresses.

  2. Check the spelling of the email addresses you have to avoid missing letters, misspelled names, or misspelled companies.

  3. Re-engaging with inactive subscribers using different lead magnets such as a survey, an eBook to download, or an interactive quiz to draw engagement from them.  

  4. Re-target those who showed interest in purchasing your products yet stopped short of checking out for unknown reasons. For that purpose, you can send personalized abandoned cart emails giving prospective buyers a gentle reminder that their cart is still waiting for them. 

Let them know what they will lose out if they don’t complete the sale. Again, you may give a discount if the purchaser completes the purchase within a timeline to create urgency.

Tactic #11: You Don’t Know Until You Try

A/B testing will help you collect data on what works and what doesn’t. This data can improve the email open rate of future campaigns since the statistics collected relates directly to your business.

Areas to Test

  1. Compare different words to bring out the emotions. Do readers respond better to scarcity, curiosity, fear of missing out or urgency?

  2. Try different ways to present your value proposition. Suggest two value propositions in the same email for one test while splitting the propositions into two separate emails for the other.

  3. Test sending emails at different times and on different days to see which days have a higher open rate from your subscribers.

  4. Try testing different subject lines and different lengths to see which has a higher open rate. You can also test the subject lines with and without emojis.

  5. Find out if your readers prefer questions versus statements. Is it more effective to post a question to spark curiosity or a statement to show authority?

  6. Make a point by using statistics in the subject line. Those unbelievable and shocking numbers can make readers curious enough to open the email to find out more. 


Despite the popularity of social media marketing, email marketing remains the tried-and-tested marketing channel that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

It remains a relevant and effective way to build personal touch points with your subscribers.

So for your next email marketing campaign, you could use these 11 tested tactics to boost your email open rate or hire an experienced copywriter to help you do the job.

Mary Neoh

Mary Neoh is passionate about writing which eventually led to copywriting. She believes in personal development and wants to encourage especially women and teenagers to continually develop themselves through her writing.  Her background is in education and real estate. In her free time, she enjoys scrapbooking and playing the piano. She is also a proud mother of 3 young adult children. 

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