The Complete Guide to Email Open Rates

Email open rates affect your business’s chances of closing a sale. Different email marketing tools exist to help you create automated messages that could improve your open rates. You can compare them here. But what are email open rates and how do you improve them? Follow this complete guide to email open rates to help you reach your email marketing goals.

What are email open rates?

An email open rate is the percentage of email recipients who open your email. Not all emails you send as a business ends up in the client’s inbox. Due to problems with the subject line, the client’s inbox settings, or a combination of both, your email might end up in spam. In this instance, the client would not see your email in order to open it. Other times, the email is undelivered because the client gave you a wrong email address; this could be deliberate or due to a typo.

Calculating email open rates

An email open rate takes two figures into consideration. They are:

  1. the number of emails that are delivered into a client’s inbox
  2. the number of clients who open your email.

An email open rate is, therefore, the number of clients who open your email divided by the number of emails delivered to clients’ inbox.

Assume you send an email to 1,000 clients. However, only 900 of the clients receive the email in their inbox. Of those who received the message, 110 opened the email. Your email open rate is 110/900, giving you 0.12 or approximately 12%.

Click-through-rate (CTR)

Click-through rates (CTR) measure the percentage of clients who click on a link in the email to visit a landing page on your website. Not everyone who opens your email will end up clicking on a link. As a result, a smaller email open rate translates into a small click-through rate.

An email click-through rate is the number of email clicks on your email divided by the number of delivered emails. As a convention, click-through rates are lower than email open rates.

How can you increase email open rates?

The aim of every email marketing strategy is to boost sales and increase conversion. However, you cannot increase conversion if nobody is opening your newsletters. There are a few steps you can take in order to improve your organisation’s email open rates.

Ask to be whitelisted

Email filters are becoming more effective at sorting out emails. If they are not accidentally sent to spam, Gmail filters especially could divert them to the promotions section few users would check out. To ensure your email falls in the inbox, ask your clients to whitelist your email address. This means the client’s email service provider will consider your email address as a trusted source.

In addition to this, it is beneficial to tell your clients when they should expect your newsletters. Giving them a time and day of the week builds anticipation. To improve your email open rates, stick to the schedule and never abuse it by sending more than you promised to.

Clean up your email list

Chances are that some email addresses have typos. Other users might have changed or stopped using their old email addresses, in which case your emails might not be opened at all. It is good practice to trim your email list of any addresses which have a zero open rate after three or four newsletters. Adding double opt-in activation allows your clients to confirm that they want to receive your newsletters. This way you are certain the email is valid and that your email will not fall into the spam folder.

Segment your email list

Chances are that your email list is filled with clients at different points in the sales funnel. While some are first-time recipients, others might have already made purchases on your store. Sending the same type of email to different classes of clients can lead to you losing leads and sales. If you segmented your email list, however, you would be able to send the right content to the right group of clients to boost your open rates.

Another reason for segmenting your email list is if you have clients from different time zones. Sending a single bulk message could lead to some clients receiving emails at midnight. Your email might end up at the bottom of a pile by the time the clients check their inboxes at eight in the morning.

Get your marketing right

Your email open rates could do with a lot of help from your overall digital marketing campaign. For example, unless your brand is very popular across the world, using a personalised [sender name] is important.

Also, your subject line should be catchy and relevant. Investing in excellent copy is very critical to the success of your email marketing strategy. Anything between six and ten words is good practice. The best way to improve email open rates is to try out an A/B testing for subject lines. Also, you can take advantage of double-opens by resending an email to customers who didn’t open the first time. This time, though, you lead with a different subject line to see what works.

More importantly, make sure your email is optimised for mobile. A smartphone would shorten the subject line so ensure you do a check to find out if the meaning is not lost during the process. If clients had a poor reading experience the first time they open your email, chances are they would not bother checking your messages out the second time.

The Complete Guide to Email Open Rates


Increasing your email open rates will have a tremendous impact on your sales and revenues. To do so, concentrate on segmenting your email list. This will ensure you send the right content to the right customers. Also, encourage your users to whitelist your email address to avoid your messages going to spam. Most importantly, though, employ excellent copy that looks great on mobile devices.