How to Get a Good Open Rate for Your Emails (my step by step guide)

Email marketing may be a direct line to your audience, but let’s be honest— we’ve all hit that delete button without even opening these emails. 

This is where email open rates come in. And I get it, stats might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but stick with me because understanding this metric could be the game-changer your campaigns need! With a monthly readership soaring past 800,000 readers, I’ve been in the trenches, A-B testing strategies that have catapulted my email open rate to over 80%

Today, I’m pulling back the curtain on the tactics that worked for me and sharing what I believe constitutes the gold standard for email open rates. So, let’s dive into the art and science of getting your emails not just seen, but opened and engaged with.

Table of Contents

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What is a good open rate for emails? 

Your email open rate is a direct pulse on how well your message is resonating with your audience. The sweet spot typically hovers between 17% and 28%. It’s a solid starting point, but you shouldn’t stop there.

According to Campaign Monitor’s 2022 survey, where they scrutinized over a billion emails, industries showed remarkable variations in open rates. Education, agriculture, and financial services danced in the higher range, averaging 25-28%, while retail came last at 17%.

Before you fret about the numbers, consider your industry’s norms. Here’s the average breakdown per industry:

Industry

Open Rates

Advertising & Marketing

20.5%

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Hunting

27.3%

Consumer Packaged Goods

20%

Education

28.5%

Financial Services

27.1%

Restaurant, Food & Beverage

18.5%

Government & Politics

19.4%

Healthcare Services

23.7%

IT/Tech/Software

22.7%

Logistics & Wholesale

23.4%

Media, Entertainment, Publishing

23.9%

Nonprofit

26.6%

Other

19.9%

Professional Services

19.3%

Real Estate, Design, Construction

21.7%

Retail

17.1%

Travel, Hospitality, Leisure

20.2%

Wellness & Fitness

19.2%

Average

21.5%

How to improve your email open rate

There can be several reasons for low open rates. But the great news is that most of them are common culprits that even big corporations wrestle with. And guess what? You can easily flip the script with these 5 tips: 

Subject lines

The subject line is that little snippet of text that has the power to make or break your open rates. And you don’t want to be playing clickbait games that leave your readers feeling deceived. 

Instead, go for useful, ultra-specific, unique, and urgent subject lines. Even better, supplement this tip with this checklist:

  • Be Truthful: Don’t pull a bait and switch. Tell your readers exactly what they’ll find inside.
  • Keep Them Short and Sweet: Long-winded subject lines? You don’t have the space for that. Keep it concise to prevent your words from getting chopped.
  • Give Them a Personal Touch: Who doesn’t love to see their name in lights? Personalize your subject line with the recipient’s name.
  • Use Relevant Stats and Numbers: Numbers and stats grab attention. If you’ve got ‘em, flaunt ‘em!
  • Try to Avoid Using All Caps: Shouting in the inbox is so last decade. Use caps sparingly, or not at all.
  • Avoid Buzzwords At ALL Costs: Cut the jargon and buzzwords. Speak human, and your readers will thank you.

Remember, your subject line is a promise, and you better deliver.

Sender information

Your sender information is the first thing your readers see and they’re more likely to open and read emails from senders they recognize

With over 1.5 billion Gmail users worldwide, Google is actively fine-tuning its email filters. While your audience has become well-acquainted with promotional and social email folders, those aren’t the first things they rush to when they open their inboxes. So, the last thing you want is your carefully crafted email languishing in one of those back corners for days (and even years!) without being read.

Instead, go pro. That means no more generic Gmail addresses. Stick to a professional or company email. It says you’re here to do business. And that’s exactly what will get your foot in the door, not the digital trash bin.

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 Proper timing 

Flooding your subscribers’ inboxes won’t boost your open rates. If anything, it’ll just boost your chances of getting marked as spam or swiftly unsubscribed from. So, let’s be strategic about it.

Timing matters. It’s not just about when you hit “send” but about when your audience is ready to hit “open”. Think office hours, not weekends. 

Global averages tell us that Saturdays and Sundays are the worst days to send emails. Why? Because your readers have checked out of “office mode” and deep into “weekend mode”. They’re winding down, making weekend plans, or just not in the mood for work stuff.

Segment your audience 

Imagine getting emails that speak directly to your interests and needs. That’s the power of segmentation. Sending blanket emails to your entire subscriber list is sloppy and a waste of your effort and time. 

Segmenting your audience ensures that your emails hit the right notes with the right people. Whether they are marketers, tech enthusiasts, or avid consumers, knowing your audience and catering to their specific interests are key. 

Even better, go beyond industry categories and dive deep into demographics, age, and personal interests. For instance, younger readers might prefer scrolling through emails on their phones, so make sure your design is mobile-friendly and has a good text-to-image ratio. 

It’s about giving your subscribers what they want before they even know they want it. 

Clean your email list

Email providers like Google and Yahoo are getting smarter. If your emails go ignored three times, they’re dispatched straight to the spam folder. Remember, the more your emails land in the right inboxes, the higher your open rates. 

So, to keep your email list engaged and productive, you need to weed out the duds. One way to do this is by using a double opt-in system. This ensures that subscribers genuinely want your content. Encourage them to add you to their trusted address book to boost your chances of landing in the inbox. 

However, also know when to take a step back. If a subscriber goes radio silent and doesn’t open your emails three times in a row, it might be time to part ways. But before you do, send them an ultra-customized email to grab their attention. You can use subjects like: “Did you forget about us?”, “Too many emails?”, or “Should we stop with __?

If they start engaging again, then great! If not, it’s time to remove them from your list.

Supercharge your email open rate  

Working on achieving impressive open rates is one thing. But let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture: providing value. You can craft the perfect subject line, send emails at the right time, and build a perfectly segmented list, but if your content is lackluster, all those efforts won’t mean a thing in the long term. 

Subscribers keep opening your emails because they expect value. And if they know they’ll constantly get it from your emails, they’ll be invested. It’s about creating a compelling email journey that keeps your readers coming back for more.

And speaking of more, if you want to know how I jacked my email open rate from zero to an impressive 80%, then definitely check out this guide.

FAQ:

Do email opens matter?

Absolutely! Email opens  indicate how many people are engaging with your content right off the bat. High open rates suggest your subject lines are compelling and your audience is interested in what you have to say. It’s the first step in measuring the effectiveness of your email campaigns, guiding you on how to tailor future content. 

What aspects affect an email open rate?

Several key factors can make or break your email open rates. First, your subject line is your first impression, so make it intriguing. The sender name matters too; people are more likely to open emails from names they recognize. Timing is another piece of the puzzle; find when your audience is most active. Don’t forget about list health; a clean, engaged list will always outperform a larger, disinterested one. Tweak these elements for a recipe that gets your emails noticed.

What is a well-sized email list?

Quality over quantity always wins. A smaller, active list with high engagement rates is more valuable than a massive list that ignores your emails. However, a healthy list size also depends on your business size and goals. Consistently growing your list with interested subscribers is the sweet spot, ensuring your messages land in the inboxes of people who genuinely care.

How do I make my email list compliant?

Making your email list compliant is all about respecting privacy and following the rules. Start with clear opt-in procedures; make sure people know what they’re signing up for. Be transparent about your email content and frequency. Include an easy unsubscribe option in every email – it’s not just polite, it’s required by law. Adhering to regulations like GDPR or CAN-SPAM acts protects you and respects your audience. A compliant list is a trusted list. 

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