How to Increase Your Email Open Rate: The Go-To Guide [+15 Surefire Solutions]

147 emails. That’s how many emails a person receives each day on average. With such an overwhelming influx, it begs the question, “Who has time to read all those messages?” The reality is not many do. 

This is the challenge businesses face daily: how to increase email open rate amidst the digital bombardment people experience daily. Especially in the B2B arena, where decision-makers juggle myriad responsibilities, getting your email not just seen but opened requires strategic finesse. 

This guide delves into tested strategies that not only capture attention but also resonate with the reader. As we navigate the complexities of email marketing, you’ll discover the key ingredients that compel recipients to click open rather than delete.

What Is an Email Open Rate?

Put simply, an email open rate is the percentage of recipients who open the email you’ve sent. Think of it as your email’s first impression. Before analyzing conversions or click-through rates, you need to understand who’s reading what you’re sending. And that’s where the email open rate shines.

For revenue teams, this metric is foundational. In outbound and inbound lead generation, getting your foot in the door is the initial challenge. If your emails are being opened at a high rate, your outreach is on point; you’re capturing attention. On the flip side, a lagging open rate might suggest that your subject lines need tweaking or your segmentation requires refinement. 

How Is Your Email Open Rate Calculated?

To find your open rate, simply divide the number of individuals who opened an email by the total number of emails successfully delivered (not just sent, as some might bounce back), then multiply by 100. 

For instance, if you send an email to 100 subscribers and 25 of them open it, your open rate for that email is 25%.

improve your email open

What’s the Average Email Open Rate?

For email marketing in general, the average open rate among all industries is 21.33%, according to an extensive benchmark study by MailChimp.  While this statistic encompasses a wide array of email types, it’s important to note that MailChimp is, by design, an inbound marketing platform. 

Counterintuitive as this might seem, outbound emails, also known as sales or cold emails — with an average open rate of 23.9% — often outrank inbound efforts in terms of reach.

As you build out your lead generation strategies, compare and contrast your open rates for both inbound and outbound marketing. You may find the insights helpful when determining budget and resource allocation.

What Causes Low Email Open Rate?

Dipping email open rates often raise alarms, and understandably so. These dwindling figures can stem from a range of issues — be it the siren call of unoptimized subject lines, the misalignment of send times with recipient activity, or the unfortunate descent of emails into the oblivion of the spam folder. Further complicating the scene are inaccurate lead lists and a lack of personal touch in the emails. But worry not; recognizing these obstacles is the first step. Solutions await in the next segment, where we unravel strategies to elevate those numbers and reclaim recipient attention.

How to Increase Your Email Open Rate: 15 Surefire Solutions

1. Make Lead List Hygiene A Top Priority

Whether outbound or inbound, the quality of your lead list is paramount. For outbound strategies, where the initial outreach is unsolicited, having a well-researched and relevant list ensures your efforts aren’t invasive or spammy. You’re reaching out to potential leads who, even if unaware of your brand, might have an inherent interest in your offering. On the inbound side, organically accumulating genuinely interested subscribers lays the foundation for sustained engagement.

However, regardless of your approach, one cardinal rule remains: resist the lure of buying lists. While it might promise quick scalability, it jeopardizes deliverability, potentially ensnaring your emails in the spam net. A nurtured, high-quality list, cultivated over time or through trusted databases, remains the gold standard for genuine engagement and fruitful conversions.

2. Keep Your Sender’s Reputation Strong with a Dedicated IP

Pairing a refined lead list with a dedicated IP address can be a game-changer. Unlike shared IPs, where one misstep from a co-user can tarnish the reputation of all, a dedicated IP is solely in your hands. Exclusive to your business, it grants full control over your sending reputation. This exclusivity produces consistent delivery, especially for companies dispatching large volumes, while offering flexibility in tailoring sending patterns. 

However, with great control comes great responsibility.The emails on your lead list must be valid; every undelivered email, bounce, or spam report directly impacts your IP’s reputation. For those who tread with care, combining a curated lead list and a dedicated IP can be the ticket to higher open rates. 

3. Do Your Due Diligence When it Comes to Deliverability

Email addresses have the tendency to go dark, especially when it comes to B2B marketing. Frequent job changes and the occasional mergers and acquisitions mean that a once-active email address today could lead to a digital dead-end tomorrow. 

Stringent corporate firewalls and server filters also affect your deliverability rate, as these safeguards scrutinize every incoming message for threats and spam. 

To top it all off, generic addresses and ‘catchall’ configurations, though seemingly expansive, can dilute the precision of your outreach. 

But here’s the silver lining: deliverability tools can be used to screen out inactive, impenetrable, and indirect email addresses, increasing the likelihood of your messages landing right where they should — in the primary inbox of your prospects.

4. Warm Up Your Domain to Cultivate Trust with ISPs

Launching your campaign with a brand-new email address demands a gradual introduction to gain confidence and establish credibility with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Instead of diving headfirst with large email volumes, you need to warm up your email address by exhibiting natural human behavior. Begin with a trickle, slowly escalating the frequency and quantity. While you could warm up your email manual, it’s recommended that you consider an email warm-up tool. 

This incremental approach signals that you’re a genuine sender, not a spam bot. ISPs, over time, will recognize and trust your sender’s reputation, boosting the chances of your emails reaching the primary inboxes of recipients. 

5. Lower Your Sending Volume — Real Low

The age-old adage, “quality over quantity,” holds water even in email marketing. It’s no longer a numbers game; it’s about hitting the sweet spot of sending volume.

According to our most recent study at Martal Group, an average of 4.5k emails sent per week produced a meager 0.37% response rate. In stark contrast, sending around 390 emails weekly resulted in a robust response rate of 5.4%. 

While this article focuses on open rates, it’s imperative to understand that open rates and response rates move in tandem. A surge in one frequently signifies a boost in the other.

improve your email open

In essence, flooding inboxes might give you a momentary spike in reach, but for meaningful engagement and tangible results, be more measured in your approach. It’s not about how many arrows you shoot but how many hit the mark.

6. Learn How to Pass Through The Spam Filter Unscathed

Google automatically marks 16 percent of emails as spam. The spam folder is a notorious black hole where emails are pulled in, never to see the light of day. However, you can escape its gravitational pull by understanding spam filter criteria.

Nowadays, it’s about more than just avoiding a list of “banned words.” While steering clear of trigger words is foundational, taking the steps we’ve already discussed, like authenticating your email domain, monitoring your sending frequency, and keeping your lead list clean, all play equally pivotal roles.

As algorithms evolve, the intent and structure of your content become more vital.  Focus on constructing emails that are original, relevant, and professional.  

When it comes down to it, bypassing spam filters is all about aligning your emails with best practices. The more authentic you are in your email marketing, the more likely you will be granted safe passage through spam filters.

7. Aim For the Primary Tab of Your Prospects’ Inboxes

In 2013, Gmail launched its categorized inbox feature. This presented a unique challenge for email marketers, making us all wonder, “How do we ensure our initial outreach lands in the primary tab?” 

The secret is in precision and subtlety. Your ultimate defense against being lost in the dark depths of unchecked emails is to use a conversational tone rather than a hard-sell approach.  Keep your email content straightforward and free of excessive promotional language or multiple links, both of which can earmark your email for the ‘Promotions’ category. In doing so, your emails appear more like professional communication and less like a sales pitch to algorithms and prospects alike.

8. Master the Art of the Subject Line

Think of the subject line as your first impression – it can make or break your engagement. After analyzing hundreds of emails, we have found that even when a subject line was personalized, its tone made a staggering difference, swinging open rates from a mere 7% to an impressive 63%. What we’ve pinpointed is the power of intrigue. Subject lines that steer clear of a direct sales tone and, instead, elicit curiosity have been shown to boost open rates by up to 90%.

However, we don’t want to dismiss the power of personalization. Addressing recipients by their name or referencing a recent interaction can create an immediate connection. Furthermore, brevity is your ally. Aim for concise subject lines, ideally staying within a 50 to 60-character limit toso they display optimally across devices.

For more insights into crafting the perfect cold email subject line and access to 30 catchy subject lines you can steal for your outreach, dive into our email subject line guide

9. Perfect Your Preview Text

Often overshadowed by the subject line, the email preview, or “preheader,” holds its own weight in the world of engagement. This tiny snippet, visible next to or below your subject line in an inbox, serves as a second hook to reel in your recipient. While your subject line grabs attention, the preview text sets the stage, providing a tantalizing glimpse into the content that awaits.

For optimal engagement, your preview text should complement your subject line. If your subject line poses a question, let the preview hint at the answer. If the subject line is a statement, the preview can provide a brief elaboration or a compelling reason to delve deeper. In essence, treat the duo as partners – distinct yet harmoniously intertwined.

10. Choose Your Words Carefully

As cliche as it is, every word counts. A single ill-chosen term can either send your email into the abyss of the spam folder or alienate a potential prospect. But it’s not just about avoiding spam triggers. It’s about tuning into your recipient’s frequency. Think about who you’re talking to: What’s their day like? Which terms resonate with them, and which might sound like alien technobabble?

Aim to communicate as if you’re conversing with your recipient face-to-face. Steer clear of jargon unless you’re certain it’s industry standard for your audience. Prioritize authenticity and clarity, crafting messages that speak directly to the reader’s needs and feelings. The right words, chosen with empathy and understanding, can be the bridge to meaningful engagement.

11. Skip the AI; You’re Smarter Than That 

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in reshaping email marketing. Today’s advanced AI tools are excellent at recognizing their own kind, sifting through inboxes, pinpointing, and filtering out generic mass emails that lack a personal touch. So, how do you keep your emails out of this digital net?

In the age of AI, a genuine human touch can make all the difference. Tailor your subject lines and content to speak directly to the recipient. In doing so, you not only make them feel valued but also escape the discerning eyes of AI. Write each email as if it were crafted for one person rather than thousands. Integrate recipient-specific details, cater to their unique needs, and, above all, avoid one-size-fits-all content.

12. A/B Split Test Everything, All the Time

Email templates are great for a time until they become recycled over and over by different sales reps and companies in different campaigns. So, it’s no wonder what worked yesterday might not be as effective today. That’s why A/B split testing is not just a nicety; it’s a necessity. 

By pitting two versions of an email element against each other – be it subject lines, send times, or content – you can tap directly into the preferences of your audience, learning and adapting in real time.

When it comes to your marketing budget, assumptions can be costly. A/B split testing replaces assumptions with data-driven decisions, so your strategies are always grounded in what truly engages your audience. 

13. Pile On the Personalization

When a recipient sees content tailored to them – be it their name, a recent interaction with your brand, or a nod to their specific needs – it evokes a sense of importance and recognition.

By integrating personalization into your email strategy, you’re not just improving open rates but fostering a deeper connection with your audience. It’s about showing you’ve taken the time to understand and value them, transforming your email from just another message in the inbox to a handcrafted note — signed, sealed, delivered.

14. Segment Your Lead List for Optimal Engagement

Segmentation allows you to divide your audience into smaller, more specific groups based on various criteria like search behaviors, technology usage, company size, or interests. By segmenting, you create a roadmap to deliver more relevant and impactful content. 

This tailored approach not only boosts engagement but also builds trust. When your prospects feel that the content they receive is curated specifically for them, they’re more likely to click, respond, and, ultimately, convert.

15. Tune in to the Right Frequency and Timing for Your Prospects

When reaching out to decision-makers, it’s crucial to recognize their unique habits and preferences. These professionals often start their day by skimming through emails before meetings, making early mornings an opportune time to grab their attention. Similarly, mid-week days like Tuesday and Wednesday are more effective than Mondays (when they’re catching up) or Fridays (when they’re winding down).

However, it’s about more than just timing but also the frequency. While it’s tempting to send multiple reminders, inundating a busy decision-maker can be counterproductive. It’s essential to strike a balance — ensuring your message gets across without being overly persistent. 

What’s Next?

Increasing your email open rate is entirely achievable. By harnessing the power of these 15 solutions, you’re enhancing your open rate and forging genuine connections with decision-makers, turning fleeting inbox moments into lasting business relationships. 

Whether you’re taking your first steps into email marketing or are a seasoned veteran, these insights offer a compass to guide your outreach toward unparalleled success. Remember, in the world of B2B communication, it’s not just about being seen but being remembered.

Vito Vishnepolsky
Vito Vishnepolsky
CEO and Founder at Martal Group