7 Actionable Tips to Greatly Improve Your Email Open Rate

The truth is, the whole success of an email marketing campaign revolves around its open rate.

Irrespective of your business or industry, if people aren’t opening and reading your emails, it is pointless to spend money on email marketing.

So, here I have about 7 actionable tips that will help you improve your email open rate to a greater extent.

Just put them into practice when you draft your next email campaign and I’m sure you’ll be able to see results.

Things that affect your email open rate

There are multiple things that directly affect your email open rate.

This includes your email tool setup, your content and even the strategy that you put in place.

According to Email Marketing Benchmarks published by Get Response in 2018, the average email open rate worldwide is 23.67%.

And it varies according to industries and countries.

Even when you rely on some of the best practices, the open rate that you are expecting should be around this figure.

So, let’s looks at these tips one by one.

#1 Decide between text and image based content

Studies have shown varied results when it comes to comparing open rates between text and image based content in email marketing.

But from my personal experience, text based emails in a conversational tone work better.

Especially when combined with name tags in content and in subject line, they have exceptionally good open rates.

And if your email list contains a lot of Gmail users, going with a text based email campaign can noticeably improve your open rate.

This is because Google uses tabs in their inboxes, and if they find your emails of promotional in nature, they are surely going to divert them into the ‘promotions’ tab.

The bad thing is, if your email goes to the promotions tab in Gmail, the users will not get notified (push notifications) in case if they are on a mobile device.

Makings your emails text based and using name tags is a practical way of avoiding the Gmail tabs.

But if your email campaigns cannot avoid using images or if you are in an industry like ecommerce, going with a text based email campaign is literally out of scope.

If your business is into products that put a lot of importance on its visual appeal, you should certainly make use of images and attractive HTML templates.

#2 Ensure your emails are authenticated

This is a bit technical, but no rocket science.

There are two types of email authentication methods that you essentially need to follow.

They are DKIM and SPF.

Email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Microsoft rely on DKIM and SPF authentication to identify spam or spoofed emails.

DKIM stands for Domain Keys Identified Mail.

And DKIM allows the recipient to verify that the message was actually sent and authorized by the owner of that domain.

This is made possible with the help of DKIM signatures placed in the header of a message.

Normally your email service provider (e.g. GSuite) will give you a CNAME record to be added in your DNS. This will make your emails DKIM authenticated.

Similarly, CNAME records corresponding to your domains will be given by email tools as well. They can also be added to the DNS section of your domain.

Next is SPF, which stands for Sender Policy Framework.

This email authentication technique compares the actual IP address of the sender to a list of IP addresses that are authorized to send emails from that domain.

Just like DKIM, this is enabled by adding a TXT record given by your email service provider or email tool to the DNS section of your email.

You can check for email authentication process through DKIM and SPF in your email service provider’s support section if you require any more information.

Authenticating with DKIM and SPF will prevent your emails from landing in spam. It will also help in increasing your deliverability and thereby open rate.

#3 Don’t buy email lists

Honestly, buying email lists is the last thing that you wanna do to reach your target audience.

If you buy email lists and send out mass email campaigns, sooner or later the spam filters are going to catch you.

And if any of your recipients mark your emails as spam, that will bring down your deliverability instantly.

You could even get your IP blacklisted because of this.

Eventually, this will make your IP and domain unusable for future email campaigns.

In regions like the European Union where GDPR laws are applicable, buying lists and spamming people can get you huge penalties.

Now a better alternative is placing an opt-in form on your website where people can choose to receive your emails.

Setting up a lead magnet like a free ebook along with your opt-in form will help you gain more subscribers.

#4 Use double opt-in

Now to make things even better, you can enable a double opt-in process to add subscribers to your email list.

Under double opt-in, when someone signs up on your website form, they will receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription.

Through this method, you are getting his or her consent to send them future campaigns.

The benefits of double opt-in include the following;

  • Getting quality subscribers – Only people who are serious enough gets added to your list
  • Fewer chances of spam – People know why they are in your list
  • Positive effect on your domain and IP reputation
  • Get into the good books of spam filters

#5 Optimize your subject line

Your subject line has a major role in getting your emails opened.

Here are a couple of tips to get the best out of your subject lines.

  • Use numbers in your subject line – e.g. 6 actionable tips for a productive work environment
  • Arouse curiosity – e.g. This SEO tactic will shoot up your Google rankings instantly
  • Ask a question – e.g. How good is your on-page SEO efforts?
  • Include power words in subject line –  e.g. Words like powerful, effortless, instantly, effective etc.

But stay away from using spam words in your subject line.

Words like offer, buy, sale, save etc. are possible spam words.

You can use a tool like ‘Quiteo.com’ to find out spam words in your email content.

#6. Segment your email list

Segmenting your email list is one effective tactic to maintain a healthy email list and to increase your open rate.

You can segment your email list based on multiple criteria and send relevant updates to different segments.

Your email list can be segmented based on;

  • Subscriber engagement – e.g. subscribers who open all emails
  • Purchase decisions – e.g. subscribers who made a recent purchase
  • Interest areas – e.g. people who are interested in productivity tips
  • Opt-in forms / lead magnets – e.g. people who have downloaded the free book or joined the free email course

Depending on the email marketing tool and your website requirements, you can segment your email list in more ways.

#7 Add value to your subscribers

No one wants to be in your email list only to know about what you sell.

Email marketing becomes more meaningful when you add value to your subscribers.

One best practice is to segment your email list based on the interest of your subscribers.

And simply offer them content that is helpful to them and can really solve their problems.

This will keep them engaged and they will continue opening and reading your emails.

Good engagement has a positive effect on your email deliverability, IP & domain reputation etc. which can eventually improve your open rate.

Final thoughts

Your open rate is one of the most important aspects of your email marketing efforts.

And improving your open rate is a continuous process that is tied to many factors.

Above 7 tips that we discussed are simple and easy to implement.

So, make sure you try them out in your next email campaign.

Got any questions?

Feel free to comment below.


Surej Shams is a Blogger and a Digital Marketer based out of Bangalore, India. He publishes content on Digital Marketing, Blogging and Productivity on his website www.digitug.com.