Actionable Tips to Increase Email Open Rate

Getting someone’s email address is not even half of the battle. 

Sure, you got them to join your list. Perhaps they clicked on an email popup, call-to-action on the blog or grabbed your lead magnet.

But now you have to get them to open your emails. And that’s when the fun starts. Because you see, given how many emails we receive each day, breaking through that noise isn’t easy at all.

Luckily, there are ways to increase your email open rate. And in this post, I’ll show you four actionable ways that will boost your email open rate right away.

What’s the average email open rate?

Before we dive into discussing ways to increase email open rate, let’s establish some benchmarks – the average email open rate. This will help you establish if you actually have a problem and if so, how severe it is.

So, here are various email open rates by country:

And so, if your open rates are below those numbers, here are a couple of things you could do to change that:

How to increase email open rate

Here are the tips to increase the email open rate for your business.

1. Write a killer preheader

Did you know that a strong email preheader text could help increase open rate?

A preheader is a short preview of the message’s context you see in your inbox. It typically displays right after the headline in desktop clients:
email preheaders examples

Many customers use preheader text as another way after the headline to screen their inbox for spam and stuff that’s irrelevant to them.

Marketing Experiments Blog conducted a study to prove the effect of preheader text on email open rates. He discovered that clearly communicating value to the customer have resulted in 104% increase in open rate.

Tested preheader text:

How to optimize the preheader text to increase email open rate?

  • Keep it short. Assume that people will view your email on a mobile or a desktop client with a window set not to full screen. So, aim to communicate the value in about 50 characters.
  • Write it as an extension of your subject line. Given that the preheader text will appear right after the headline, write it so that the two work together to incentivize a person to click your email.
  • Experiment with including a call-to-action. I know, there is a varying advice on this matter. Some email experts advise on using preheader only to communicate value; others advocate adding a call to action. Experiment with both approaches to find the one that works best for your audience.

If you need writing tips, check out these guides:

? Copywriting for Ecommerce

? List of Power Words

2. Regularly engage your email list

You know:
Some emails on your list will go stale. Those people might have changed emails, moved jobs, or stopped using that account for one reason or another.

But here’s the catch, as Mailchimp confirms:
“Lists with a lot of stale addresses can lead to high rates of bounces, spam complaints, and unsubscribes.”

Removing old and unused emails increases the health of your list and reduced the cost associated with sending emails. After all, you no longer pay for sending messages that would never get opened anyway.

However, cleaning stale addresses has one more benefit. It immediately increases your open rates as you now send messages to fewer recipients. So, even if the same number as before opens a message, your open rate will still go up. A quick fix but it works.

3. Reduce personalization

I know, it makes no sense, right?

But here’s the thing: Not all personalization helps increase conversions, open rates, and improves customer retention. In fact, too much personalization could actually deter recipients from opening your email.

Here, let me explain.

Today’s customers have learned to be wary of messages including their name in the subject line. And to no surprise, the practice has been used to death by spammers.

As a result, they’ve developed a self-defense mechanism warning them of such messages. For example, a study conducted at the Fox School of Business found that this type of personalization could actually be harmful to your campaigns:

“Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of e-mails, particularly those with personal greetings.”

So, reduce the amount of personalization you use. Instead of including the recipient’s name in the subject line, email opening, and the body copy, mention something they’d find relevant. Perhaps something that would remind them about your store. It could be a promotion they’ve signed up through or the popup copy you used to build that list.

Instead of mentioning anyone by name, Derek Lewis, a fantastic business book ghostwriter, calls out his target audience in the subject line.
It’s a subtle personalization that works. It makes the email immediately relevant to people Derek wants to talk to.

4. Optimize subject lines for mobile

About 80% of emails are opened on mobile devices. But it goes further. You see, apparently, many mobile users delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile. All this means that to increase email open rate, you should optimize them, which includes subject lines.

Here are a couple of suggestions to optimize the subject lines for mobile:

First: Write short headline.

Mobile devices sport a limited display real estate. So make sure that your headline doesn’t get cut preventing the person to get the full benefit its promising.

Here are some examples of various mobile subject line lengths (via Campaign Monitor):


Second: Optimize the preheader text to display in full on a mobile.

We’ve talked about preheader text already. But just one thing to add, write it so that the whole text displays on the mobile. This is particularly crucial, as unlike with a desktop client, you can’t assume that a person will stretch or resize their browser window. They simply can’t.

Pawel Grabowski Pawel is an SEO and content marketing consultant working exclusively with SaaS brands.

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