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How to Improve Your Email Open Rates: Part 1

By Deborah Kurfiss, Umbrella Content Marketing Director on Apr 21, 2023

Email marketing remains one of the best methods to reach people directly. But no matter how great your email content or how valuable the offer, it really doesn’t matter unless you can motivate people to open your clients’ emails. A good email open rate is critical to the success of your email campaigns.

This is the first of two blog posts that will explore how to improve your email open rates. Look for the second one next week.

Finely Target Your Audience

An email campaign is no place to shot gun your client’s message to the world. You want to send to a target audience that is comprised of excellent candidates for your client’s goods and services.

Make sure that every email you send is relevant to the people getting it. That means that in addition to building a good email list, you need to segment it. All of your prospects and customers are not necessarily good candidates for all your products and services. They are also likely to be at different points in the sales cycle. So, target your email campaigns accordingly.

Needless to say, the more demographic and behavioral data you can gather about each customer, the more finely you can segment your clients’ lists.

Clean Up Your Clients’ Lists

Just because your client has a clean, active list today, does not mean that won’t change as time inevitably marches on. People change companies, change roles within companies, change email addresses and just move to different points in the sales cycle.

Check the validity of your clients’ email lists on a regular basis. You don’t want to be sending to wrong email addresses. There are many email verifier services and programs out there. Here is a list of 10 of them.

Likewise, be sure you have structures in place that move email addresses various segmented lists as circumstances. For example, you may have email campaigns you send to prospects. Once prospects become customers, they may go on a different list.


Personalization results in much higher email open rates than generic email. You can start, of course, by personalizing the salutation, but people need to open the email before they see that.

But if you personalize the subject line or preview, your audience will see it and be influenced to open the email. Emails with personalized subject lines have a 50% higher email open rate than those without.

How you do this varies depending on the email program you are using. Here’s how to personalize a subject line in MailChimp.

Optimize Day and Time

When you send your email impacts its open rate. But what’s the best day time?

This will vary according to your audience and your industry.

Your best answer, as with most things in marketing, is to test both day and time. For time, send at different times of day (on the same day, as the day may also have impact) and see where you get best results. You may also want to read this helpful article from Adobe.

Work Hard on Your Subject Line

No question, the subject line is your best opportunity to grab your audience’s attention and influence them to open your email. If your subject lines are irrelevant or just kind of blah, you are not going to get good email open rates.

Writing a good subject line is so important, that we plan to write an entire blog post about it within the next couple weeks. So here we will just list some ways to entice your audience with your subject line. Obviously, you will usually not use all of these in one email.

  • Personalize
  • Create curiosity
  • Make a great offer
  • Make them laugh
  • Surprise or shock them
  • Offer a sought-after solution

Write a Preview

In addition to the subject line, you can write a short “preview” which is a second chance to capture attention. Your audience will be able to view at least part of this in their inbox. It appears after the subject line before they open the email. If you do not include a preview, the first characters of the email will be shown.

If the first characters of the email are not all that compelling (such as a date), you will want to write a preview. This is another place you can personalize if you did not do so in the subject line.

Reliably Email Worthwhile Information

Presumably, you have lists that you email repeatedly. If they rarely find anything of value in your email, at some point they will stop opening it. But if you consistently provide your audience with emails that are useful, relevant and educational, they will be much more predisposed to open your emails on arrival.

Be Consistent in Your Branding

If you’ve made a lot of effort sending emails with welcome and valuable information, you want your client’s audience to recognize your emails when they arrive. If they don’t recognize the email as coming from your client’s company, all that work is for naught. So keep the sender and the look and feel consistent.

Looking for White Label Email Experts?

This is only part 1 of our Email Open Rates article, and there is a lot more than we will be able to include in the two articles. If you are interested in white label email marketing services, don’t hesitate to contact Umbrella.

Contact us for a free consultation through this Umbrella website form or by calling 1(866) 760-2638.


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