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11 Simple Tricks to Increase Email Open Rates Today

Last updated on April 22, 2021

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to grow sales, engage with your audience, and drive results. You may think that email is dying but a well-crafted email marketing campaign can easily outperform social media and affiliate programs. According to Campaign Monitor’s research, every dollar spent on email marketing has a return on the investment potential of $44. That’s a lot!

Yet, one of the biggest problems you and I face is low email open rates. If people don’t open our emails, the results are going to be zero. Your email opening rates determine the success or failure of your email marketing campaigns. That’s why one of the first criteria for a successful email marketing campaign is to increase email open rates.

Let’s look at some easy email marketing hacks to boost your email open rates then!

1. Make it fun

Humor in email marketing? Yes, it’s highly underrated. Marketers often maintain a professional tone in their emails. While being concise and to-the-point is good, you don’t want to make it all boring. A funny or witty subject line can immediately increase email open rates for you.

Let’s take an example.

“5 Hilarious Steps to Become Successful”

Normally, we consider “becoming successful” as a serious thing. So, by pitching in the word “hilarious” you can make your recipients grin. They may ask themselves, “How can I be successful by using some hilarious tips? Let’s open the mail to find out.”

2. Personalize, make them feel important

Address your recipients by their names in your opening line – that’s one of the first steps to personalization. Let’s focus on some email marketing statistics here. According to Experian Marketing Services’ survey, the industry average email open rate can increase up to 29% when you include the recipient’s by their first names in the subject line. Nevertheless, that’s not sufficient.

Can you try adding the recipient’s location as well? Mentioning their location in the email can easily grab their attention. It’s a common instinct to open emails when you see your location because they feel more relevant.

“Need some advice from people in [ city name ] area”

This subject line does two things – personalization plus making them feel important. After all, everyone likes giving advice right?

3. Add some controversy

You’ve seen plenty of such headlines in the news! A controversial headline makes you read more. If “humor” is not your cup of tea, make your email subject line controversial. It’s most likely to work.

Let’s take an example.

“I think Facebook will crash soon…”

Facebook is a favorite for many. An email with the above subject line can make the recipients curious. To feed this curiosity, most of them will open your email. The result is a rapid increase in email open rates. Most people are interested in controversy and gossip. Why not make it a part of your email marketing campaign? But of course, use it carefully – and depending on the type of your audience.

4. Be mysterious

Adding mystery to the subject line will also trigger human curiosity. A mysterious subject line does not let your reader rest until they’ve solved the mystery and the result is a higher open-rate. For instance,

“Last night, I saw…”

What? What did you see last night?

This eagerness can drive your prospects crazy. Nobody likes to miss out. They’ll instantly open the email to find out what you saw. So, hold some information back. This will create a captivating impact on your subscribers.

5. Stay casual

The best email subject lines to increase your open rates are always casual. Draft a casual email. Gone are the days when emails could only be in formal tones. Make it unpretentious. Don’t forget that it’s a marketing campaign.

Being casual doesn’t mean sounding inappropriate though. Maintain a friendly tone in your emails.

For example, an email subject line like “What’s going on?” or “How was your weekend?” looks casual and cordial at the same time. A similar subject line is bound to build interest and boost open rates.

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6. Play on time or deadline

Think about the “time” aspect of your emails. Are you sending an invitation or offer? In that case, playing with the timeliness a little can improve email opening rates. Hubspot’s survey showed that the word “tomorrow” in the subject line can fetch 10% higher average email open rates.

You can also use words like “Today”, “Last Day”, “Daily”, “Weekly” and “Urgent” to a mail’s subject line.

7. Optimize the “preview” text

“Preview” text is what Gmail and some other email clients show to the reader even before they open your email. Subject and preview text is the very first thing your subscribers will see. So make sure you optimize not only the subject line but also the preview text.

It can be a bit challenging to master writing preview texts – so don’t try to perfect it in your first attempt. Test a bit. Create different types of preview texts for the same email and see what works best.

Honestly, there are no written rules to write a preview text. But to increase your email marketing open rates now, test with the following:

  • A synopsis of the email body information
  • Recipient’s name and location
  • Sensitive words like “important”, “alert” etc.
  • Coupon codes and offers

At the end of the day, it’s up to your recipient’s email service provider. They decide the number of characters shown as preview text an email subscriber will see.

8. Segment your email list

This is one of the most powerful lessons I learned in email marketing. Send your emails to people who’re interested in them. Relevancy is key, and if you are not sure if the email you’re sending will resonate with your entire list, there is no point in sending it to the entire list. Send it to a smaller, segmented list. MailChimp’s survey shows that segmenting your email list will increase open rates by 14%.

You can segment your email list on many attributes:

  • Location (country, city…)
  • Purchase history and frequency
  • Buyers’ persona/profile
  • Length of subscription, open / click history
  • Additional demographic or interest parameters you may have collected

Keep targeting, keep segmenting your email list to experience better email open rates.

9. Use mobile-friendly templates

Litmus’ survey showed that 56% of subscribers open emails from their phones. If an email doesn’t load fast on mobile, there’s hardly any chance to improve the open rate.

Not using mobile-responsive templates can prove to be a terrible mistake. Your subscribers will perceive you as a brand that sends broken emails. Soon they’ll stop opening your emails. Draft mobile-friendly emails that look good, are not too image heavy and fit enough content on a small screen. This can certainly lift your email opening rates.

10. Avoid spam filters

No matter how enticing and well-crafted an email is, it could easily end up in the spam box if you’re not careful. To make the most of your email marketing campaign and to increase your email marketing open rates now, avoid spam traps. Learn about things that flag your emails as spam and take action to improve your scores.

Confused? Here are some easy tricks to keep your emails out of the spam folder:

  • Send emails to opted-in subscribers only.
  • Use an authentic IP address and a verified domain.
  • Ask your webmaster to add SPF and DKIM records.
  • If your IP gets added to any blacklists, act to remove it quickly.
  • Don’t be too pushy. Avoid words like “Buy”, “Cash”, “Clearance” in the subject line. There are tons of such words actually.
  • Include an “Unsubscribe” link.
  • Use a reliable email sending service!

11. And oh, don’t forget punctuations!

Using the right punctuation at the right place is important. Some of the punctuations that work very well in email subject lines are: “!”, “…”, and “?”. I will leave it to you to guess why they work!


Email marketing may feel very intimidating. But don’t worry. You can take one step at a time. You don’t need to try all the tricks to increase email open rates at once. Just select anyone and start testing. If it works, great! Then try another one.

Email marketing is all about learning what will work with your audience. So don’t stress too much, just keep testing!

One way to improve your email marketing is to use a proper email marketing solution. If you’re using WordPress, invest in Email Subscribers, one of the best WordPress plugins for email marketing and newsletters. You can download it for free and elevate your email open rates right away!

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