improve open rates in email marketing

How to Improve Open Rates in Email Marketing

During the last presentation of our #DDIgnite series on Email-Marketing, the audience asked a very good question – What is considered a good open rate for an email marketing campaign? Some email campaigners swear by 20%, some 25%, and some a humble 15%.

Why do these numbers differ so much?

Should you choose your email marketing consultant based on these historic open rates?

We are sure you will have all of your answers after reading the points below. In this article, we will be talking about the crucial things to focus on to improve open rates in email marketing. If you implement these practices in your email campaigns, you will surely see an immediate improvement in your email open rates.


List Quality

This is by far, the most important criteria. As a rule of thumb, do not send an email to someone who does not expect it from you. In short, stay away from paid lists. It is impossible to know if the contact information is correct or if the people on the list are interested in your product or service.

A paid list is only good if you are running a one-time opportunity campaign where quantity matters more than quality. You should always use your own list, which you have built over time. The correct way to add people to your list is by asking them. When people agree to join your email list, they are interested in what you have to offer and are more likely to make a purchase.

Why does it matter? If I send more emails, won’t more people open them?

Well, partially. When you use a paid email list, you will get a very high bounce rate and unsubscribe rate. Bounced emails occur when emails are sent to wrong or non-existent email addresses. People unsubscribe when they are annoyed and/or not interested in what you are marketing. These numbers will damage your domain authority, hamper your SEO, and your email marketing campaigns could take an abrupt pause.

Having your own email list is of great importance, even for events and conferences. But first, you’ll need to collect people’s email addresses. OnSpot Social is a great app to capture email addresses and contact information at business events, stores, office buildings, and in the fields, to help build your email marketing list. Save time and start your free trial today!


Email Quality

This consists of the From-Name, Subject, and Body of an email.

The from-name establishes credibility. As an experiment, compare the emails in your inbox vs your spam folder to get a fair understanding of this point. Email providers such as Gmail use sophisticated methods to categorize spam mail that is rarely or never opened. Focus on creating emails that mirror from-name templates in your inbox and think about why you decided to read them in the first place, especially if those emails are from someone you do not know.

Equally important, the subject needs to invoke curiosity. Most people receive an excessive amount of emails every day and this applies more specifically to those with long-standing email addresses. An email from your bank or employer is considered important and the probability of you opening that email is high.

So how does one create differential emails to stand out and entice the recipient to open the email? There are various free tools available online to help you with creative subject lines. A/B testing for your subject lines is a very common practice.

For example, you can send 200 emails. Half of those emails (100) will have the same subject line and email body while the other 100 emails will have a different subject line and body. When you check the open rate, choose the most successful subject line and body to use for your email marketing campaign.

Finally, the email body will determine your click rate. If your emails have a high open rate and poor click rate, your email body has some issues that need to be rectified. Here are some basic tips for the email body: Emails need to be optimized for mobile devices as more and more people are opening their emails on smartphones.  A clear call to action is a must along with clear messaging. The user should not have to scroll much and there should be a web view available. Most importantly, always include the company information and the unsubscribe link. Otherwise, your emails might be found in spam folders.



Sending a promotional email from an investment company to a retired person makes sense but sending the same email to a high school student would not get you stellar results. Keep in mind, both could be your customers and part of your list, but your offering may not be relevant for them. Hence it is absolutely necessary to use some data processing to help you filter your lists to get a better result.

Excel tools should be fine (but opens a new can of worms in data protection). You can directly query the database and in the long term automate the process. There are some off-the-shelf solutions available, but you can build one for yourself inexpensively.



A restaurant sending a promotional email at 5 P.M. on a Friday night makes sense, an insurance company sending an email warning about heart attacks at the same time isn’t in good taste and you would end up with a high unsubscribe rate. Timing is extremely important. Some days emails would perform better than the others.


As you can see, there are many variables to get that perfect number. The better way to look at the success of your email marketing campaign is by defining tangible business goals. The questions you should ask are; how many sales would this campaign get me? Or How many people would end up visiting your website? If you are looking for a consulting session around your email marketing goals, you can reach out to us at


Read Next: 6 Powerful Tips On How To Write a Persuasive Email

Rishi Rais