Your email list is one of the most valuable assets for your business. It is through your email list that you can reach your customers on a personal level and share with them insights into your products and services.

When you have a thriving email list, it makes sales easier, developing relationships with your customer easier and growing your business is easier.

Many businesses know the value in creating an email list and have all sorts of lead magnets in order to build up a list, but the problem lies in getting those leads to actually open their emails.

You could have the longest list of leads in town and the best content, but if your emails are not getting opened, chances are you are not going to get very far.

In this article we are going to take you through some clever hacks that you can use to get more of your emails opened. By following these four steps you can start converting more of those leads into paying customers who love your brand.

Before we begin however, it is important to ask the question-

What makes an email campaign successful?

There are many ways to define what makes an email campaign successful, however we believe that there are two factors which stand out every time-

  1. Open rates (the focus of this article)
  2. Click through rates

Most email service providers will give you access to these metrics, but what is important to understand is that these metrics may not be all that transparent.

Just because someone opens an email doesn’t mean they are going to click on it and just because someone opens an email doesn’t mean they have even read it.

While open rates are important to understand, there is also value in looking at your click through rates and how your readers are responding to your emails in general. Are they scanning through your emails or are they really involved?

When you take into account the bigger picture, it helps you to have a more vast understanding of your metrics and where you need to improve when it comes to the success of your email campaigns.

Statistically speaking, when it comes exclusively to open rates, having an open rate of around 25 percent is deemed good, whereas as 44 percent is deemed successful.

Anything less than that and you probably want to pay attention to what this article has to say.

Email Open Rates Over the Years

Wait, but isn’t email marketing dead?

There has been a lot of debate over the effectiveness of emails in marketing.

Many people believe that emails are a dying art and are no longer effective, however we don’t agree and the statistics don’t agree either.

One important thing to take note of is the popularity of emails throughout the years. This is not only a factor to consider when determining the success of your email campaign but it is also interesting to see just how effective email marketing has been through the years.

Email marketing has been one the most popular marketing methods for years, and since 2006 the open rates for emails has been fairly consistent.

In 2006, it was reported that over 20 percent of emails were opened. This number remained consistent until around 2013 when email open rates spiked to nearly 30 percent. This may have been due to the fact that more and more people were getting smartphones and syncing up their emails.

Last year in 2016, email open rates dropped back down to just under 25 percent. This proves that for the last 10 years, email is still stocking up to be an effective marketing method.

Even though we now have the emergence of Instagram and Snapchat at our disposal, it seems that email marketing is still standing the test of time.

Email Open Rate Averages

To put it in perspective, the highest click through rates recorded in the US were around 45 percent and the lowest were around 9 percent.

Where do your open rates stand in terms of that spectrum?

If you are getting click through rates of over 44 percent then you are in the top percentile, however if you are closer to 9 percent, then you are in the lower percentile as far as industry standards go.

Email Click Through Rates

Even though we are mainly focusing on open rates in this article, it is important to also look at click through rates as well.

Click through rates, which are just as important to track as open rates, can also tell you a lot about the success of your campaign.

Currently, the industry standard for click through rates is around 24 percent. This means that if you are getting a click through rate of 24 percent or more than you are likely to be in good shape.

Of course, 24 percent is still a number that can be improved on as it will increase your chances of those clicks turning into actual sales and actual profits.

How to Increase Your Open Rates

Hack #1 Get More Emails Delivered to Inboxes 

It seems pretty straight forward but think of it like this- more than 20 percent of marketing emails never make it to the subscribers inbox.

This means that 1 in 4  of the emails you are sending are not even reaching your customers.

Naturally, this can impact on your open rates and skew the results of your campaigns.

In order to prevent this from happening, you need to take a look at how many of your emails are bouncing.

If you notice a high percentage of emails bouncing, here is what you can do to increase delivery rates-

  1. Use a double opt-in: this ensures that your leads are accurately entering their email address and not providing one that is full of typos. Double opt-ins also help you to attract your most loyal leads, and helps to eliminate those who are not really interested in signing up to your list. Many marketers avoid using double opt-ins as it can lower sign up rates, however the benefit is that it allows you to create an email list of highly qualified leads.
  2. Ask your readers to whitelist your email address: upon signing up to your list, remind your customers to add your email address to their trusted address book. This will help to avoid your email ending up their spam folder.
  3. Delete Unactive emails: if a subscriber doesn’t open one of your emails three to five times in a row, delete them. There is no point paying to have them in your list if they are not interested, or if your emails are going into their spam folders. Another benefit of clearing out your list is that it prevents email providers like Google, Hotmail and Yahoo from flagging your address as spam. Email providers are clever, and use open rates to determine if your email address is spamming or legit.

Hack #2: Make your Emails Multi-Device Friendly

Email open rates on mobile phones have grown by a whopping 180 percent in just three years.

If your emails are not mobile friendly, then you are definitely missing out on a golden opportunity.

Mobile open rates for emails have also been on the rise in 2017 and currently, around 55 percent of emails in total are read on mobile devices.

If your email is not optimised for mobile devices, it is likely that it will end up in the trash. In fact, a recent study found that 70 percent of emails not optimised for mobile devices were deleted immediately. What is even more alarming however, is that only 11 percent of marketers are using mobile friendly email templates.

By catering to mobile and tablet readers, your open rates are likely to flourish, so check to see what your emails look like on a mobile device before sending.

Hack #3: The Timing of Your Campaign

Timing is one of the most important factors when it comes to open rates. Naturally, if you send your email at 5pm on a Friday you are not likely to get many people reading it.

The time you send your emails matters, but what matters more than a proven generic time is finding the time that your customers are most active and engaged with their email.

For example, if you run a B2B company sending emails within business hours is going to work best. You may not want to send an email first thing Monday morning or Friday evening as we already pointed out, but sending an email around 11am on a Wednesday may be a better fit.

If you run an e-commerce store on the other hand, sending emails on the weekends may work best, or even later in the evening when your customers are browsing online.

If you are a restaurant or food based business, sending emails at 5pm on a Friday may just work in your favour. But this is something that will of course, need to be rigorously tested.

To help you get started, recent research has found that Tuesday is the best day to send emails as far as open rates go. Here is a full breakdown-

  • Open rates average around 18 percent on Monday
  • Open rates average around 20 percent on Tuesday
  • Open rates average around 19 percent on Wednesday
  • Open rates average around 18 percent on Thursday
  • Open rates average around 19 percent on Friday
  • Open rates average around 16 percent on Saturday
  • Open rates average around 17 percent on Sunday

Further research also shows that people are more likely to open their emails after 12pm on all week days.

Studies also show that 23 percent of email opens occur within the first hour of delivery, after 24 hours however, the chance of your email getting opened drops considerably.

Statistically, the most beneficial time to send an email is between 12-3pm however again, this is something that you need to test for your individual business.

Hack #4: Craft the Perfect Subject Line

The subject line of your email is super important when it comes to getting your email opened.

In fact, 64 percent of email subscribers state that they are more likely to open an email because of who its from, but 47 percent more likely to open an email because of the subject headline.

Here is a breakdown statistically of reasons for opening an email-

  • 64 percent will open an email due to the sender
  • 47 percent will open an email due to the headline
  • 26 percent will open an email due to the offer, coupon code or discount
  • 14 percent will open an email due to the introductory paragraph

These statistics really show that you should spend just as much time writing your subject headline as you should your email!

Having a solid subject headline is really going to help improve your open rates and will also show you what your audience is finding most engaging.

To help you craft the perfect subject headline, here are a few tips and tricks that have been proven to work time and time again-

  1. Subject lines that contain 6 to 10 words deliver the highest open rates: research by Retention Science found that subject headlines that contained roughly 8 words were found to be the most ideal when it came to open rates. Subject headlines that contained over 16 words however, performed the worst. This is somewhat to be expected, as long headlines usually get cut off by email providers making them hard to read. Long headlines can also scare away readers and consequently, they are more likely to ignore your email.
  2. Personalised subject headlines can increase open rates by 20 percent: everyone likes to feel special, and using the name of the reader in the title of your email can go a long way in getting opens. Email is definitely a great way to get personal with your customers, and by adding their name to the subject header you can definitely make an impact and leave a lasting impression.
  3. Using song lyrics increases open rates: using song lyrics in the headlines of your emails has been shown to drastically increase open rates. In fact, one study found that using song lyrics or famous lines from movies helped to improve open rates to around 26 percent. If you are feeling like exercising your creative muscles, come up with a catchy song lyric or movie quote and see if it can help to increase your open rates.
  4. Use Buzzwords: research also shows that using buzzwords in your headlines can help to improve open rates. These buzz words include secrets, e-sales and awesome.
  5. Avoid words associated with spam: while there are buzz words that can help to get your emails opened, there are also buzz words that can flag your email as spam. These include confirm, features and upgrade. Using hashtags and question marks were also shown to lower open rates.

When it comes to crafting the perfect headline, your audience matters the most. Think about what they would be most interested to read about and then use that as your backbone.

Creating the perfect subject line may take practice and experimentation, but it is definitely worth the little extra time that it takes to do this.

Email Open Rate Case Study

Now that we have shared with you four amazing hacks that you can use to improve your open rates, we thought we would also share with you a case study.

This case study will allow you to see these hacks in action and what they can help you achieve when it comes to your next email marketing campaign.

To summarise the events of this case study, using the hacks above helped to improve open rates from 24 percent to 30 percent. This is a huge jump and can mean a world of difference for your business.

Some of the emails that were sent with super catchy headlines even fetched open rates of close to 33 percent.

Here is the case study in more detail-

Company X wanted to use their email list to sell a 2-day webinar event around marketing. The event was priced at around $1,000 and they wanted to sell 50 spots.

Company X had been sending out emails about the event with an open rate of around 20 percent. Here are the changes they made-

  • They did a massive inventory of their email list and cleared out people who had not opened their emails more than three times in a row- while this shaved the number of people on their list, it helped to improve open rates by 2 percent.
  • After cleaning out their email list, they began experimenting with the time of day they were sending their emails out. They tried 2pm on Tuesday and 4pm on Thursday. The emails were 6 percent more likely to get opened on Tuesday as compared to Thursday. They also experimented sending emails on Saturday, and were able to get open rates of around 23-25 percent.
  • After they selected the perfect time of day, they began crafting clever headlines. They experimented with-
    • Go Ahead, make my day….
    • Show me the money!
    • Imagine all the people…
  • These headlines helped them to slightly improve open rates by around 1-4 percent. However, what really helped them to boost open rates was using a more personalised touch. When they included the name of their recipients, their open rate climbed to around 27-28 percent.
  • After cleaning up their headlines, they ensured that their emails were mobile friendly and created a more mobile friendly version by reducing image sizes and ensuring that their buttons and clickable links were easy to find and click. This helped to boost open rates by another 2 percent, bringing their overall open rate to 30 percent.

By following these simple hacks, Company X were able to boost their open rates by a whopping 10 percent, pushing their overall open rate percentage to around 30 percent. This was just after 2 months and only 12 emails.

While the company are still continuing to make improvements to their open rates, these tips helped them to increase click through rates and boost sales.

In fact, since making tweaks to their email list, the company was able to improve their ROI, which at the end of the day is what it is all about.

So, if you are looking to improve your marketing strategy, start with your email list. It is by far the best way to reach your consumers and can yield amazing results as long as you pay it the attention it deserves.


Email marketing is no where near dead and hopefully this article has allowed you to see just how a few simple tweaks can make a world of difference.

By following these hacks, we estimate that you will see at least a 10-15 percent boost to your open rates within just a few short months.

Here are the main points and biggest takeaways from this article summarised in bullet form-

  • To improve open rates start by assessing the health of your email list in general. Delete subscribers that don’t read your emails and assess whether having a double opt-in may help to improve the quality of your list.
  • Make sure your emails are mobile friendly and use mobile friendly design elements to improve your open and click through rates
  • Find the perfect time to send your emails by looking into the behaviour of your demographic. Statistics show that Tuesdays work best after 12pm.
  • Personalise the subject headline of your email in order to improve open rates and create a more personalised touch
  • Work on creating catchy and clever headlines as this can also dramatically improve open rates- experiment with using song titles, famous movie quotes and offers
  • Keep your headlines to around 6-10 words at the absolute most, any more and your headline is likely to get chopped off
  • Ask readers to add your email to their address book to prevent your email from ending up in spam folders

An open rate of around 25 percent is good benchmark to hit for most brands however, why end just there?

The industry gold standard is around 44 percent so why not try to add your business to this category?

By adopting a few of these hacks and experimenting with some of your own, you can be well on your way to turning your email list into a converting sales machine.