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Your Complete Guide on How to Increase Email Open Rates

Jan 31, 2022
Your Complete Guide on How to Increase Email Open Rates

When was the last time you took a look at your email open rates? I hope the answer is ‘recently’. Your email marketing campaigns can only be so effective if they are actually getting opened in the first place.

How can you measure the success and effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns? One of the best KPIs to take a look at is your open rates. This is the amount of people who are receiving and then opening the emails that you’re sending out.

Some email marketers will only look at their click through rates, the amount of time the link you’ve provided in the email is clicked on by the recipient. But keep in mind, you can’t have one without the other. Sometimes, open rates will get overlooked because CTR seems more desirable, but for a recipient to click the link provided they first need to open the email.

There are a lot of opinions and options about how to increase your email open rates, but we first need to take a look at the facts then come to a conclusion.

Just because 72% of people say they prefer to be contacted via email, doesn’t mean they will open yours.

Let’s get started. Here’s a complete guide to getting better email open rates, and better ROI.

1. Keep Your List Fresh and Up to Date

Quick questions, do your subscribers even want to hear from you? It sounds a bit harsh, but this is a rational question to ask yourself.

You have probably heard that it’s important to email your subscribers on a consistent basis so they don’t forget about you. But even so, over time your subscribers can go stale. Some people may have changed their email address, or aren’t interested in your brand anymore.

So to keep your list fresh and filled with engaged subscribers who actually want to hear from you, it's a great idea to periodically remove inactive subscribers. It actually benefits you even more in the long run.

As a rule of thumb, an inactive subscriber could be anyone who has not engaged with one of your emails in the past 6 months or so. Do them, and yourself, a favor and take them off your list. BUT, before doing so, there are a couple steps you can take to try and re-engage your recipients.

Try your hand at a win back email campaign.

A win back email marketing campaign consists of a short and sweet message to remind your recipients why they subscribed in the first place. This is like your ‘hail mary’ before removing them from your list.

A smart winback email subject line will (ideally) hook your readers and inspire them to hear you out and check out what’s inside. The best subject lines are those that are personalized and that suggest you’re speaking directly to that customer.  

One way to get a customer’s attention is to offer a discount or include an incentive for buying your product or service again. Try experimenting with the timing of your offer so it has a sense of urgency. Alternatively,  you can focus just on promoting new products or best sellers, also include social proof in order to revive customers to buy from you again. This is also a great place to address any issues that may have happened in the past and how you’ve remedied them, and include a direct line to the customer service.

Keep Your List Clean

Having a fresh and clean list also helps you understand your customers better by looking at specific KPIs , ensures email viability, and helps avoid the dreaded high churn rates. The best way to maintain a clean and viable email list is by running it through Emailable. It’s as simple as importing your lists, verifying your data and analyzing your results in a matter of minutes. This is list cleaning made simple. One of the best ways to increase open rates is by ensuring that your email list is clean. When your lists are sent to proper recipients it improves your chances of being opened as well as your sender reputation score.

2. Segment Your Lists

Start by segmenting your email lists. Segmentation is dividing your email list into specific categories based on your customers.

You can segment your list by looking at the parts of your list that your subscribers don’t engage with, and put them in a different list to receive emails less often. By doing so, you are able to minimize the risk of your subscribers clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ button or ‘mark as spam’. This also increases the likelihood of them opening your emails.

Have you seen a chunk of subscribers who haven’t clicked on your emails in months? You will have more luck reminding them of your product or service by using a re-engagement email campaign (as we mentioned above). If successful, you will have a revitalized email group where they are more likely to engage than the rest of your list. If not, you should consider removing them from your list entirely because they aren’t contributing to your email marketing campaign and provide a bigger threat to your sender reputation.

By segmenting your list you are making sure that the information you are providing your customers is something that they are genuinely interested in. This not only helps improve personalization but also helps form a better foundation of trust. Your customers will then start to notice that your emails provide value to them and will know it’s not a waste of their time to open.

The actual segments that you choose will be based on your company and its products or services and what type of email you’re sending and what the desired action is. Some examples of list segments:


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Buyer Persona
  • Area of Interest
  • Product


Segmenting your lists will help further personalize your lists and increase relevance for your recipients. Relevance is one of the most important factors that will help you retain and nurture your existing customers.

Understand the distinct groups of people that make up your list. Segmentation is about understanding the needs of your customers and having an open form of communication with them.

3. Stay Away From Spam Traps

Once an email is marked as spam, there is little to no hope that it’s getting opened. So you need to proceed with caution when writing and sending out your emails, to make sure you avoid the spam trap.

IPS will block unwanted or seemingly spam messages to prevent recipients from receiving unnecessary junk in their inboxes so they can focus on their more important or time-sensitive emails.

The sender reputation score serves as a protective barrier from inboxes becoming cluttered with unwanted emails. This process is carried out by an algorithmic analysis, with zero invasion of an email's privacy or personal information. After the continuous verification that automatically occurs, the IPS provider sets the sender's score, and if it happens to be low, then your message may end up in the spam folder.

There a three categories of spam:

  • Recycled Spam Trap: these are email addresses that were valid at one point in time but have been unused for such a long time that they could not have engaged with any email in a long time. Messages sent to these addresses are typically refused (AKA they bounce) by receiving the server for a year or more before they are reactivated as spam trap addresses.  
  • Typo Traps: These are addresses that usually end up on a recipient list because of a mistake. This could happen by typing “johnsmith@hitmail.com” instead of “johnsmith@hotmail.com”. Similar to recycled spam traps, these addresses will never open or click any of the messages they receive. Some believe that by sending an excessive amount of mail to typo traps, it will result in poor list acquisition and poor list hygiene (which they are right).
  • Pristine Traps: These are the email addresses that have never been used to actively sign up to receive an email. These are most commonly found on mailing lists when senders purchase, rent or scrape addresses.


The best way to avoid spam traps is to make sure you’re in accordance with the CAN SPAM Act, as well as taking into account what the content of your email is saying. When you’re clear from any spam traps, this helps increase your open rates because the emails are actually getting delivered to the right inboxes.

The Grand Finale

The main take away from this article should be that the best way to increase your email open rates is by keeping a fresh and healthy email list, segmenting your email list, and avoiding as many spam traps as possible. As the saying goes, a little goes a long way. When you take these steps into consideration you’re helping the chances of increasing your open rates because you’re sending to the right recipients, you are personalizing their messages, and making sure that your hard work is getting delivered to the desired inboxes.


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