As one of the most venerable forms of online communication, email might seem as though it’s had its day. But think again! Email is still one of the most popular marketing channels in use today, and it can net you and your company a windfall of business.

What is an open rate?

You might think that an email open rate is simply how many people open your marketing emails, but this isn’t the case. Getting technical, an email is counted as opened when the reader in question has allowed the images in your email to be loaded in, either in a preview pane or in a full window. Furthermore, if a recipient clicks a link in your email, that counts as both a click-through and an open. All clear? Good. Moving on.

Facts and Figures

Between 2015 and 2018, the average email open rate was maintaining a respectable 24%. In 2019, that rate dropped to around 22%, which is a worrying sign but is by no means a reason to count email marketing out of your strategy. By country, email open rates are highest in Switzerland and Denmark at around 30%, and there’s a similar story worldwide at around 35%. In the UK, email open rates hover at a more depressing 13%, so let’s talk about how to increase those numbers!

Increasing Open Rates

Resend Unopened Emails

One simple and easy way to increase open rates is to just resend unopened emails. This might seem like too simple a tactic, but it’s never a bad idea to wait a week and try resending an email to pick up a chunk of people who might have either ignored it the first time around or simply deleted it in a spree whilst clearing their inbox. Even better, modify the subject line without changing the internal contents, and you can pick up those who might have ignored your first message. Experimenting with different hooks in your subject line will allow you to pick up people who may have been unconvinced by your first attempt.

Segment Your Mailing Lists

Your subscribers are a panoply of different types of people with different views and interests. It’s never a bad idea to segment your mailing lists according to different factors, such as demographics, behavioural data, and the date they signed up.

Segmenting by demographics allows you to target your marketing at specific groups of people. You can maximise the impact of your marketing by releasing tailored content for men and women, for example, utilising the best data on what attracts these two different groups.

Segmenting by behavioural data will allow you to apply important data on the way your subscribers engage with your product. What do they do with your product? How much and how often do they buy? When did they last click into one of your emails? This approach allows you to prioritise your marketing and achieve greater efficiency.

When did your subscribers sign up? It’s a great idea to tailor content for onboarding new customers, or rewarding long-time buyers.

Spam Filters

Every day, more than 100 billion emails are flagged as spam. This staggering number demonstrates just how effective these systems are, so you need to take steps to avoid them. Strong research into the specific keywords that trigger spam filters will allow you to ensure that your email marketing is achieving its maximum possible reach. Phrases like “big bucks”, “free money”, “winning” and “no credit check” are common ones that will trigger spam filters, but it’s a good idea to look out for anything that might mark out your content as being similar to the most common examples of junk email in peoples’ inboxes. Even if you are a Nigerian general running a business, it’s probably not a good idea to mention it!

Consistency, Urgency, Simplicity

Setting a consistent schedule for the release of your emails will allow your recipients to know exactly when they will hear from you. It denotes strong organisation, and this consistency reflects well on you and your business. 

Experimenting with subject lines is an excellent way to create urgency and increase clicks. Some ways to do this can include creating a sense of mystery, enticing your recipients to click through; controversial or shocking lines, although this requires a delicate touch and should be used with care to avoid any damage to you or your company’s reputation; using single words, as this gets your message across in a direct and succinct manner; or perhaps using scarcity tactics, such as warning your recipients that they’re “missing out” by not opening your email. FOMO, as we all know, is a powerful force.

Simplicity is also a key requirement. Your emails shouldn’t be packed full of as much content and information as you can possibly manage. It’s important to pick a subject and stick with it, producing a focused piece that conveys a clear message. Befuddling your recipients with a wall of text might get you an open, but a click-through is unlikely.


Finally, consider including video! Video marketing is a strong and dynamic way to get your message across, and it allows your recipients to receive your message without having to read strings of text. People are busy, they have more time to watch a quick and easy video than read your wordy email!

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