How to Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rates

Adam Lewis

Coming up with a great email campaign idea is one thing, but how do you ensure that people are opening your email to see what’s inside? In order to measure its success, you’re going to need to think about a number of things – but luckily at Huddled, we’ve done the hard work for you!

What is an Open Rate?

Most people think that ‘open rate’ means the number of people who open an email, however, it’s not that simple. An email only counts as being opened when one of the following occurs:


  1. The reader lets all the images in the email load in the preview pane or in the full view of the email.
  2. The reader clicks a link in the email.


Email open rates are calculated by taking the number of people who opened the email and dividing it by the number of emails sent that didn’t bounce (in other words, failed to reach the recipient).

The emails that don’t make it to the recipient physically can’t be opened, so this number isn’t taken into account when determining the open rate percentage.

How to increase your open rates

Keep your email list fresh

Ask yourself this: do your subscribers still want to receive messages from you?

If a recipient hasn’t opened your last 3 or 4 emails then it’s more than likely that they are no longer interested in your company, or maybe they have changed email accounts – it does happen.

In any case, it’s a good idea to remove inactive subscribers from your mailing list but before doing so, there’s no crime in making a last-ditch effort to communicate with them.

A simple, ‘we haven’t heard from you in a while’ or a ‘long time no speak’ message can be a casual yet effective way to get a response. Keep it conversational and lighthearted to avoid any negative feedback.

Resend any opened emails

Some research suggests that sending out an email again can increase your reach by 54.7{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0}. Email marketing expert Neil Kagan used this approach but changed his subject line the second time round and sent the email a week later. This increased his open rate by 30{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0}.

This is beneficial for two reasons:


1 – Firstly, and most importantly, you get more people opening your emails and reading your message.

2 – Secondly, you don’t have to waste time typing out an entirely new message.

Think about timing

Truthfully, there is no set time or day that wins hands down when it comes to sending your email campaign, as it can depend on your industry and audience. But by doing some A/B tests you will be able to work out which days and times seem to attract the most visitors.

Obviously the best time and day will be when your subscribers are the most active and it might not necessarily always be before or after work. Some subscribers may follow different schedules so test a range of delivery times for your next few emails to see which one performs best.  

If you are promoting an event that will happen at the weekend, you might find better results when you post your message on a Thursday rather than on a Monday. Some have found that posting in the late morning or early afternoon is much more effective than posting first thing in the morning when people’s inboxes are full of unread messages.

Avoid spam filters

Millions of emails are flagged as spam on a daily basis. Many of them carry viruses or promote activities which are prohibited and these types of emails are discovered as a result of certain keywords. Things like ‘free money’, ‘cheap’, ‘cash’, ‘win’ are perfect of examples of digital mousetraps that many of us fall for every day.

Don’t be fooled by an email that says you have won a 5 star luxury holiday to the Maldives or you have won the latest iPhone. It might sound tempting but when you haven’t entered any competitions, it’s very obvious that this isn’t true.

Make sure your emails are mobile optimised

The device people read emails on influences the open rate and with 55{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of emails opened on mobile devices, having your email optimised is crucial. In fact, 70{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of people who open an email that isn’t mobile optimised will delete the email immediately – that’s a massive amount when you think about it.

This graph shows the comparison between desktop and mobile between 2011-2016.



People are busy and if they open an email and it’s too difficult to read or they can’t scroll through the content easily, they will simply delete it and forget about. It sounds harsh but presentation is vital so make it mobile friendly and preview it before you hit send to avoid subscribers losing interest.

Don’t send emails too regularly

We’ve touched on resending unopened emails but it’s important to know when to draw the line and this can get a little complicated.

The term ‘list fatigue’ is used when your campaigns are sent out too often and recipients either become quickly tired of your emails or you’ve scared them away – two reactions you definitely want to avoid.

You can do this by setting up frequency options at the start to allow your subscribers more control over what they receive and how often they receive it. The trick here is to find the happy medium between not sending too often so people become tired of hearing from you and not sending regularly enough so that people forget about you – yes, we did say it was complicated…

Pick a strong subject line

Picking a strong subject line is sometimes easier than it sounds, but one route that many companies seem to go down is the personalised route. Maybe use the subscriber’s name in the subject line to make them feel more involved in the content. 

Emails containing first names always perform better than those without. In fact, 64{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of people said they are more likely to open an email if it includes their name. Put as much relevant information as possible into the subject line to draw the reader in. Things like special offers, purchase history or products of interest are good starting points if subject lines don’t come naturally to you.


As you can see, there are many ways to increase your email open rates and these tips are a great head start.

If you’d like more information, why not speak to a member of the Huddled team? You can email us at or tweet us at @huddledmedia

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