5 Tips to Double Your Email Open Rates


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I won’t get into a generic introduction to this blog by saying how important email marketing is, or how it is 40 times more powerful than a social post. You all know that, that is why you’re reading this blog in first place.

Let’s get straight into the crux.  Want to increase your email open rates by a significant margin? Then read on.

(A small disclaimer: this blog is a kind of memoir of my own experiences and hope the tricks which I applied, will work for you too)


Subject Line

Probably the most important factor which gets your subscriber’s instant attention, Subject Line decides the fate of your email opens as well as your message inside. Best practices for a good subject line are:

  • Keep it short and concise. Tell your audience in 50 characters or less what value they are going to get if they open the mail.
  • Personalize. It’s always always advised that you use first name of your subscribers in the subject line. You may also add their company name or industry, even better. It’s like this you see, the more you add personalization to your subject line, the email open rates multiply.
  • Avoid spammy words. Keep your subject line dirt-free and make it sound more genuine. If you use words like “Free”, “Reminder”, “% off”, it has very high chances that it’ll land up in the spam box. Instead, use strong words like “eye-opening”, “hack”, “critical” etc.
  • Strong Header. In most of the email clients like gmail, yahoo etc., you can see the additional text after the subject line for the emails in inbox.That’s the mail content header and this too carries high priority, since it’s right there in front of your subscribers before they open the mail. Make sense in the header by putting strong words and snapshot of content inside. Remember to be creative, as you’ll get only 2-3 words to convince them.


Credible “From” name

People gets judgy with the sender name of the emails they receive. They have a different priority levels assigned to different types of sender:

Priority 1: Known People – Friends & families

Priority 2: Known Companies – Companies they expect the mailer from

Priority 3: Doubtful People – People they think they know, but not sure of

Priority 4: Unknown People – People they don’t know

Priority 5: Unknown Companies – Companies they have no idea about

The priority list is not a stone inscription though. It varies. Even if you’re an unknown company, you may win an open from your customer by writing a kick-ass subject line. But let’s not take chances and stick to best practices. Use a human name in the “From” of email to increase your chances of email open. If possible, you use a name that you think your customers are already familiar with.



I can’t stress this point enough. Personalization is the most easiest, no-brainer way to boost your email open rates. Be it subject line, header or the email body, insert personal attributes of the recipients wherever possible. We ran an A/B testing with two different subject lines (it is always advisable to test just one variable in an A/B testing). See the results:

Version A: Five use-cases of a cross-channel campaign

Version B: John, five use-cases of a cross-channel campaign

Obviously, version B was a clear winner with almost double the open rate of version A.


Best day/time

The timing of your mailer is very important. There is no guaranteed answer to this though, as nobody can tell you that a particular time on a particular day will give you maximum opens. The best way to find out is to look back and dig deeper in your past campaign analytics. Create a matrix for “Time of Day, Day of Week” data and see which column pops-up to be the winner.

I can help you with a ready answer by sharing what works for me. This will be helpful to you too if you’re targeting USA market, like me. Check out the matrix below, which my marketing application gives me on real-time:

Email Campaign Time n day Matrix

So for a particular week, out of the total opens my emails got, Thursday 3 pm got the highest share. In fact, I was not surprised since this is the industry standard for email marketing.

To sum up: Best day to send emails is Tuesday through Thursday, and best time is between 3 pm to 6 pm. There you have it. But I would suggest you follow your own matrix.


Use reputed ESP (Email Service Provider)

If you’re running an email campaign, there are high chances that you’re using a marketing application like FirstHive, because who uses Outlook for bulk email sends anymore, pfft! If you’re not using a tool, here’s why you should immediately sign-up for one:

  1. An application will smoothen the process of campaign creation and delivery
  2. You may create professional emailers using preloaded templates
  3. An application will let you personalize your campaign
  4. An application will let you automate your campaign according to the rules you set
  5. You can A/B test your campaigns via an application
  6. An application will give you deep analytics on your campaign performance
  7. If you step up from email marketing application a bit, and go for cross-channel marketing application, you’ll be able to do everything mentioned above, plus you may use the email marketing campaign data for designing your SMS or social media campaigns, and vice versa. Cool stuff, ha?


Bonus: Mobile optimization

Industry sources estimate that more than 50% of your subscribers will check your email on a mobile phone. Your email should be optimized for smaller screens, not just with design but also with content.


Hope you find the hacks implementable If so, would love to hear your thoughts or feedback. Even if you don’t want to follow any of the above, here’s a short-cut tip for you: start by checking your email inbox, look for promotional mails, see if they entice you enough to click on that. If yes, try out a similar campaign. If no, never try that.

I would like to conclude this blog with an interesting tip I read in a book and later tried myself and seen actual results:

When you send an email campaign to your subscriber list, the chances are only something like 30-50% of them open it. That’s over HALF of your list that don’t even get to see what’s inside. Which means they are either making a decision purely on your subject line, or the email has slipped through the cracks of their inbox.

After sending a broadcast email to your list, wait about 7-10 days. After waiting for 7-10 days, re-send the exact same email to everyone who “Didn’t open” the original campaign. Except, this time change the subject line. Of course this group of people are most likely less engaged than the group that DID open the original email. But what you will find is that about 10-15% of the others will open and click on the re-send. That is a massive chunk of people you weren’t engaging with otherwise.


Hope this blog will add value to your next email campaigns. I’d love to hear if you’ve interesting and better tips for me too. I’m trying something new every now and then and will share more tips in near future. Till then, peace out and keep emailing!


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