10 effective ways to increase your email open rate

Email is one of the most powerful tools you can use as a business owner or blogger. After all, it’s a great way to nurture leads, boost traffic to your website or blog, fill up seats in a webinar or paid masterclass, and sell products or services. And because email converts way better than social media does, email marketing is definitely worth the time and investment.

But if you’ve looked at your email analytics recently, you probably know that you have to do more than just send an email if you want someone to sign up for your webinar or buy your product. Before you can get anywhere near a registration or a sale, you need to get your subscribers to actually open your emails in the first place.

How can you get more people to open your emails? Check out these 10 effective tips for boosting your email open rate.



Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.



What’s a good email open rate?

Before you can set goals for boosting your email open rate, it’s helpful to know where you current open rate stands. Based on MailChimp’s latest analyses of email campaigns, average email open rates tend to hover around 20-25%.

But MailChimp’s data shows that open rates vary widely by industry—being as low as 15% for daily deals and coupons and as high as 27% for hobbies. This is why it’s helpful to compare your open rate to the benchmark for your industry. Note sure what your industry’s benchmark is? Check out this table.


10 ways to boost your email open rate

Now that you know how your email open rate compares to average rates in your industry, let’s talk about how to boost it! Here are 10 effective ways to increase your email open rate:


1. Write better subject lines

You knew this was going to be high on my list, didn’t you? (You smart cookie!)

Your subject line is the most prominent piece of info about your email that your subscribers will see when they spot your email in their inbox. So if you want to sway them to open your emails so you can boost your email open rate, it’s a good idea to make your subject lines as strong as possible.

Here’s how to do this:

  • Highlight the value of opening your email
  • Invoke curiosity or urgency (if appropriate)
  • Use conversational, on-brand language
  • Experiment with blind and direct subject lines
  • Keep your ideal customer in mind
  • Add a number
  • Stick to 6–10 words
  • Avoid spam trigger words, like “free,” “sale,” and “deals”
  • Steer clear of click bait

Pro email marketers and copywriters don’t write just a single subject line for the emails they craft. They write a large handful of them. When you do this, you can pick the best from an entire collection of subject lines. You can also A/B test them to learn which types of subject lines your subscribers respond to the best.


Example: Amy Porterfield’s email subject line taps into her subscribers’ curiosity by addressing a key question they have.


email copy mistakes example

2. Build a high-quality list

Let’s face it: building an email list is hard work. Especially if you’re still working toward getting your first 1000 subscribers, growing your list can feel like a painfully slow journey.

But no matter how desperate you are to see your subscriber count grow, remember that the quality of your list is more important than how big it is. This is why you want to qualify people who sign up for your list by ensuring that they represent your ideal customer.

How do you do this? Instead of incentivizing email sign-ups with something anyone would want (e.g., a $200 Amazon gift card), use an incentive that only your ideal customer would be up for receiving. For example, use a lead magnet or content upgrade related to the products or services you offer. This way, the people who sign up for your email list are more likely to be interested in your brand (and the emails you send). And if your subscribers are genuinely interested in what your emails are about, you’ll have a higher email open rate.

Related: 10 effective opt-in incentives that help you grow your email list + free tip sheet

3. Nurture your list with a welcome email series

Building a high-quality email list isn’t just about getting the right people to subscribe. It’s also about nurturing subscribers to keep them engaged with your brand.

It’s important to nurture your subscribers throughout their lifetime on your list. But it’s especially critical to invest in your relationship with them when they first sign up. Why? Because this is when subscribers are most engaged and most excited about your brand.

Take advantage of this excitement by familiarizing them with your brand, delivering tons of value, and telling them about all the fun stuff you have in store for them. How do you do all of this? Create an automated welcome email series.

A welcome email series is a series of emails that you send to new subscribers right after they sign up. The emails introduce your subscribers to your brand, give them key freebies, encourage them to follow you on social media, and may even tease products or services you eventually plan to pitch to them.

The overall goal of a welcome email series is to establish a strong relationship with your subscribers and make them even more excited about your brand. This way, when you’re ready to pitch a paid product or service, they’ll be more likely to buy.

Need help writing a solid welcome email series? Check out my post on the topic and grab my welcome email series swipe file.

Related: 10 ways a welcome email series improves your email list + free tip sheet



Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.
Send me the templates


4. Keep your list fresh

Even if you do your best to get the right people on your list and nurture them, you’ll probably end up with at least some subscribers who almost never open your emails. Although a select number of these subscribers may just be extremely busy, there are other reasons why they may not be opening your emails:

  • They signed up just to get your freebie and aren’t interested in anything else about your brand
  • They were interested in your brand when they first signed up but aren’t anymore
  • They’ve changed email addresses or don’t check their email often anymore
  • There’s a typo in their email address (on your list) and they aren’t even getting your emails

When you have a good chunk of people who never open your emails, they drag your email open rate down. What can you do to fix this? Clean up your email list regularly. Every 6 months, go through your email list and delete anyone who’s been on your email list the entire time but has never opened an email from you. If they haven’t opened an email from you lately, the chances are that they won’t in the future either.

Should you first send a re-engagement email to see if these subscribers want to remain on your list? You can, and HubSpot has a great example you can follow. But remember that if these people aren’t opening your emails in the first place, most probably won’t open this one either.


5. Get whitelisted

I mentioned above that’s helpful to keep your email subject lines free of spam trigger words. But even if you’re diligent about doing this, your emails can still end up in spam folders. That’s because spam filters are stronger than ever and have a habit of misclassifying legit emails as spam.

And then there are additional traps like Gmail’s “promotions” tab. If it’s active in someone’s account, Gmail may automatically filter marketing messages into it.


Gmail promotions tab


Most people don’t check their spam folders regularly and aren’t always aware of what their email filters are doing. As a result, you may have subscribers who truly want to receive your emails and just aren’t seeing them because your emails don’t end up in their inboxes.

How do you fix this so you can increase your email open rate? Tell new subscribers to whitelist your email address. You can do this on a thank you page after someone signs up for your list or in a welcome email.


6. Optimize for mobile

What’s another reason you might have a low email open rate? Your emails aren’t optimized for mobile inboxes. Almost half of emails (48% to be exact) get opened on smartphones. So just like it’s important to optimize your website for mobile devices, you also want to make sure it’s easy to read your emails on a phone or tablet.

What can you do to get more people to open your emails even if they’re using a mobile device? Keep your subject lines short enough that they don’t get cut off on a mobile screen. Experts also recommend adding preview text (also known as pre-header text). This is a 1–2 sentence teaser that gives recipients more info on what your email is about.

Want to see what your subject lines and preview text look like on a mobile device? Use a free tool like TestSubject.


Preview of email subject line on phone


7. Be strategic about your “from” name

When scanning emails in their inboxes, people use the “from” name to decide whether an email is something worth opening. This is why you want to make sure your “from” name is something your subscribers would recognize—either your name or your brand name.

But which one should you choose?

Well, it depends on the kind of business you run. If you have a personal brand, it makes sense to use your name. On the other hand, if you own or work for a large brand like Starbucks or Amazon, you’ll probably want to use your brand name because that’s what people are most likely to recognize.

What if you own a small or medium-sized business that isn’t a personal brand? You can use your brand name. Or you can do what many businesses are doing these days and use both the name of the sender and the brand name together. (It’s what I do!) Check out this example from Escape Manor:


From names in email


This approach lets you leverage the familiarity your subscribers have with your brand name while making your emails feel more personal.



Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.

Send me the templates


8. Experiment with different send times

Your email open rate might also be low if you’re sending emails at the wrong time for your subscribers.

What’s the right time to send emails? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer I can give you (sorry!).

If you Google “best time to send emails,” you’ll find lots of data on the topic. But if you dig a bit deeper and look at data from multiple sources, you’ll find that it often conflicts. This is because the best time to send an email depends on multiple factors, including niche, audience, and business. As a result, one business may have the best success at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday whereas another may see its highest open rate on weekend mornings.

So what should you do? Systematically test different days and times to find what works for your audience.


9. Segment your list

When you segment your list, you break it up into different groups and send different email campaigns to different groups. Why is this important? When you segment your list, you can better tailor your emails to the specific needs and interests of subgroups within your list. That’s why segmented email campaigns are 14% more successful than nonsegmented campaigns.

You can segment your list in many ways, including by the time since people last opened your email, the product they bought from you, the freebie they signed up for, or where they live.

Example: Here are just some of the ways you can segment a list in MailChimp.


Email segmentation


10. Resend your emails

One final hack for increasing your email open rate is to resend your email to people who didn’t open it the first time. Simply wait a week, change up your subject line, and resend your email to this particular segment.

By putting in just a few minutes of extra work, you can get more people to open your email. In fact, when Noah Kagan did this, he boosted his open rate by 11%. And because he had a large list, this meant he got 7028 more people to open his email!


Start boosting your email open rate today

When you spend lots of time crafting and sending an email to your list, it can be discouraging to find out that only 15% or 20% of your subscribers bothered to open it.

But the good news is that you don’t have to settle for the email open rate you currently have. Instead, you can use the strategies I’ve shared above to get more people on your list to open your emails. Although these hacks do take some work to implement, they’ll put you on the path to boosting your traffic, increasing your webinar sign-ups, and making more sales!



Need help crafting email subject lines that will make subscribers actually open your emails?
Download my 63 free email subject line templates.

Send me the templates





10 effective ways to increase your email open rate + 63 free email subject line templates

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