12 Answers to Improve Email Open Rates: The Rudiments of Effective Marketing

Email marketing may not be as popular as it once was, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its effectiveness. In fact, email open rates are higher than ever before. The key to success is knowing the basics of effective email marketing and applying them to your organization.
Posted: 2 years ago

blue and white logo guessing game, email open rates, email campaign, email marketingEmail marketing is an effective way to reach your audience, but it can be challenging to stand out in a crowded inbox. Luckily, there are these 12 common questions and answers that you can use to improve the open rates of your emails. From ensuring that your subject line doesn’t say a four-letter word to using images and videos appropriately, these tips will help you increase engagement with customers who have already given their email addresses.

What is an email open rate?

An email open rate is the percentage of emails that recipients opened after an email blast. This data is often used as a metric to gauge the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns. Like MailChimp, ConstantContact, Campaign Monitor, and Pardot, many services will automatically provide an open rate to their customers as part of the reporting offered at no additional cost.

#1 What is the industry average for an email open rate?

An average open rate for a B2B email is about 28%. It’s important to note, however, that this number differs depending on the industry. For example, for a BULK email marketing company like MailChimp or SendGrid Inc., an open rate of 17% is equivalent to over 500 million opens each year. On the other hand, if you are primarily B2C and your average open rate is only 24%, then it may be time to switch up some aspects of your email strategy – such as lessening the frequency with which you contact customers via emails.

#2 How do I get more emails delivered to increase my open rates?

The best way to get emails delivered is to make sure you follow email marketing best practices. Our blog offers several articles on this topic, but in terms of deliverability here is our shortlist:

  • Update existing mailing lists with new additions and remove unsubscribed people from it
  • Review your bounces and bounce rate to avoid sending emails to individuals who are not interested
  • Review the design of your email templates to make sure that everything is visible and easy to read
  • Define the length of your subject line to be no longer than 55 characters to make it easier for recipients to scan their inboxes
  • Consider personalized subject lines to improve email open rates
  • Truncate the email body to include bullet points and shorter paragraphs
  • Keep track of when emails were sent out and which ones had higher open rates so you can figure out the best day/time slot for sending them out again
  • Use proper DKIM and SPF records in your hosting and make sure that they connect to your email blasting platform, which helps get through firewalls
  • Use a tool such as Google Postmaster Tools to check on the reputation and scoring of your emails, domain, and sender reputation every week

#3 When should I send my email campaign?

When to send your emails is crucial to the success of your email campaign. Sending emails too early or too late can result in lower open rates and diminishing customer engagement. Finding that sweet spot will take some trial and error.

Let’s take a look at when you should send out your email campaign:

  • Mid-morning hours (between midnight to noon) are the best time for sending emails because this is when most people check their inboxes – but keep in mind that your recipients in the early mornings might still be somewhat sleepy, so rates could vary.
  • The afternoon is the worst time for sending emails because people might be out at lunch or busy working on projects, not checking their inboxes – it’s best to avoid this timeframe unless you have an urgent reason.
  • Early evenings (between the hours of five to seven PM) are a good time for sending out emails because people will be winding down for the day and checking their inboxes.
  • Late evening is also great, but it’s important not to forget that email responses from this timeframe might go unread until morning.

#4 How does the design of the email impact open rates?

An email template design that is too complicated or difficult to read will decrease the probability of an email being opened and read. You must create a design for your email campaign which balances simplicity with clarity to increase open rates and, as a result, achieve higher ROI from campaigns.

When designing an email, designers should avoid any unnecessary elements and distractions. Your email should catch your recipient’s attention, ask for nothing more than their interest in reading what you have to say, and tell them everything they need to know by looking at the email message with zero effort from the recipient. If you’re designing your email in HTML code, make sure to include tags for the text size and highlight colors so that people with screen readers or reading emails on their phones will be able to read it.

Here are a few additional tips to consider when designing your next email:

  • Don’t use too many colors or fonts.
  • Avoid the color red and excessive bolding
  • Make sure all images are under 100k and use the smallest file size possible
  • Include a clear call to action with an easy way for recipients to reply or take action
  • Avoid confusing interfaces that require the recipient to learn how to use your emails.
  • Remember that the term “above the fold” is a print term.

As always, remember that these are only guidelines. Often it’s better to break “rules” than blindly follow them because every organization has unique needs to be seen by its audience.

#5 How do you get someone’s attention using a preheader?

When a recipient first receives your email, they are drawn to the subject line and briefly scan the beginning copy underneath. The copy underneath the subject is called a preheader. Make sure that you take full advantage of your email preheader and that it is striking enough to compel them to open it up and begin reading. The truth is if they are not compelled enough to read the subject line and preheader of your email campaign, then no matter how good those words may be, it will never lead them to take action.

#6 How do you build anticipation for your emails?

Building anticipation for your emails is the key to success. Your customers will be more likely to open your email if they’re excited about what it might contain–whether that’s a special offer, an important announcement, or just good information from you. Anticipation starts with regularly having a set schedule for sending your emails and following that schedule. It’s always good to build anticipation for your emails, but it can be vital when you’re sending out a big announcement or promotion.

#7 Who should the emails come from? Should we use a branded email address?

Consistency in the sender’s email address is key to getting emails opened. Sometimes you may want to use other people’s email accounts but, if they don’t have a history of being the traditional sender, your emails might get flagged as spam and never seen at all.

Again, this is only important if you are the traditional sender of those emails. For example, let’s say that your organization does not account for where people on your team can easily send an email from. In this case, it might be best to use the “sender” field to enter someone else’s email address, so recipients will know that it is coming from someone they are familiar with.

#8 Why should we stop using 4-letter words in subject lines and content?

Several simple stop-words can affect email open rates. A stop word is not allowed in any body text of a typical email campaign because sending them could hurt the delivery rate. These include words like ‘FREE’, ‘SAVE’, or ‘EARN’. Using these words once can impact an email’s deliverability, and using them repeatedly can cause an email to be blocked entirely.

Avoid using other words such as:

  • Solution
  • Bonus
  • Gift
  • Lower
  • Passwords
  • Clearance
  • Order

#9 Should you resend unopened emails?

Sending emails should never be just a send once situation. You should always be resending your unopened emails to get a better open rate. Send reminders about the rewards of opening an email, which might include discount codes and exclusive offers. Aim for every email you send to lead back up to some offer or promotion where it will benefit both parties. Your customers are more likely to open your email if they have a chance to get something in return.

Follow up periodically for continuity’s sake, but schedule each follow-up for at least two weeks apart when possible. Remember, social media feeds change, often making people more interested in seeing something new rather than reading about yet another tweet from last week if they missed it live. The same goes for sending updates by email; send enough information via email while not overwhelming the reader.

#10 Should we use emojis in our subject lines?

Emojis are an effective way to add some visual interest to your email’s subject line. Emojis can appear unprofessional, though, if you choose an inappropriate option for your organization. We recommend using a relevant emoji like the thumbs-up sign for a successful signup email or the trophy emoji when a recipient has achieved something significant.

#11 Should you be mindful of your subject line length?

Make your subject line concise. Make it clear what the email is about with a few words, and improve your email open rates by staying relevant to what you’re sending. Like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and Pardot, most email platforms have subject line tools to help determine what your subject line should say and the chance of it appearing spammy.

Keep your subject line length to 55 characters or fewer. This will help with email spam filters and make it easy for readers to scan the list of emails in their inbox, minimizing the risk that they’ll miss important information.

#12 Should you be regularly performing A/B testing using different subject lines and content?

Test your email campaign with an A/B split, and track the open rate. If you’re not doing A/B testing and subject line tests, it’s time to start. A/B testing is one of the most effective ways to determine what your audience opens and what they respond to most in your content.


The rudiments of effective email marketing that improve open rates are essentially the same as they are for any other form of advertising. Some best practices to consider include keeping subjects short and sweet, only sending emails regularly that have significant value or interest to your readers, and using clear language. Keeping these basics in mind will help you optimize your open rate to maximize every campaign you send out. If you want more answers specific to your email marketing needs, contact us today. Our team can work closely with you at all stages of development from conception through execution – no matter what industry or niche we’re talking about to make sure everything goes smoothly and looks great along the way.

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