Help Articles

How To Improve Your Open Rate

Our Email Marketing software offers a comprehensive report for every email campaign you send — this report lets you know which subscribers opened your campaign, clicked on a link in your campaign, bounced, unsubscribed, etc. The open rate is generally the most important factor when it comes to making your marketing strategies effective — and sometimes, simply getting your subscribers to receive and open your email messages can be a frustrating effort.

This article offers some advice on increasing your overall read/open rate.

Improve Deliverability

It goes without saying that if your subscribers aren’t receiving your messages, they certainly can’t read your messages. Improving deliverability is usually the first thing you’ll want to try when encountering a low open rate. Though this is an extremely in-depth topic, here are some general suggestions for improving deliverability:

  • Check your spam score. This score is visible in our software on the “Summary & Options” page, at the end of the campaign creation process. An ideal score should be 0/8. If you find that the score is higher than 0, you will have the opportunity to view the reasons why the campaign was scored that way, and you can make corrections/modifications to your message accordingly to reduce the score.
  • Ask your subscribers to add you to their address books. Putting a simple line of text in your email asking your subscribers to add your “From” email address to their contact list can improve delivery rates in the future.
  • Construct a well-structured message, that includes quality content with both text and images. Do not use one large image as your entire message — make sure you have a good amount of both text and images in your message. Make sure your copy is readable, original, does not include “filler” text (such as the “lorem ipsum” placeholder text, or gibberish), does not include common “spammy” keywords or phrases, and uses proper spelling, capitalization, and grammar. More information on constructing message content for improved deliverability can be found here. 
  • If you have a downloaded license (software is installed on your own web server), contact your server admin. Your server admin may need to make some changes to your  server configuration, change your mail server’s throttling/queue settings, or request that your server be removed from blacklists, etc. For more information on improving deliverability on your own server, check out our Deliverability Guide.

Send To People Who Want To Receive Your Messages

Simply put, subscribers who are not interested in the content you are sending will not open your messages. Making sure that you’re sending to the right people will greatly improve your response rate, and improve the effectiveness of your email campaign.

  • Send targeted campaigns using list segments. You can use our software’s List Segments feature to actually pick and choose which subscribers you want to send your campaigns to, based on any custom field you’ve added to the system (such as city, occupation, interests, etc). A common mistake some marketers make is that they send their campaigns to as many email addresses as possible — the idea being that the more people you send to, the higher your response rate will be. Unfortunately this isn’t usually the case. By sending smaller, targeted campaigns, you are reaching only the people who are genuinely interested in your content, and you are refraining from irritating  those subscribers who aren’t interested. This will usually reduce the number of unsubscribes, and increase the number of opens.
  • Make sure your list is a double-opt-in list. Our hosted Email Marketing server only allows the use of opt-in email lists. Ensuring that no one is on your email list accidentally or against their will is extremely important when it comes to deliverability and overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. Going one step further and requiring that all of your subscribers are double-opt-in (meaning they were sent a confirmation message after subscribing) will add one more layer of security to opt-in process, further ensuring that all of your subscribers want to receive your content.
  • Let subscribers choose the content they would like to receive, or the frequency they would like to receive your emails. This is a great strategy that many email marketers use. In our software, this can be accomplished by using custom fields, and list segments, as described above. You can easily add a custom field to your subscription form that allows your subscribers to choose which types of emails they are interested in specifically, or how often they’d like to receive your messages — and you can then create segments based on that custom field to ensure that subscribers only receive the content they want.
  • Ask “why” when someone unsubscribes. Our software has a feature that allows you to ask your subscribers why they unsubscribed. If they’d like to, they can fill out a form after unsubscribing, giving you their reason for unsubscribing. You can enable this feature by going to the Lists tab, editing your list, and clicking “Additional & Advanced Settings.” By knowing why your subscribers unsubscribed from your campaign, you might be able to make changes to your messages or sending practices to reduce the unsubscribe rate for your future campaigns.

Write a Great Subject Line

The subject line of your email is arguably the most important part of your content. You’ll want it to be catchy and interesting — but you’ll also want to make sure you avoid any “spammy” sounding phrases as well, which your subscribers may find off-putting. It can be difficult achieving the perfect balance, but we have some suggestions for improving your subject lines here:

  • Use proper spelling and grammar. For example: writing a subject line in all capital letters or all lower case letters, misspelling words, or using multiple exclamation points at the end of your subject line are all things that detract from the legitimacy of your message, and should be avoided.
  • Promote a sense of urgency. If your subscribers feel as though they might be missing out on something if they don’t open the message, they’ll be more likely to check it out. Examples of these types of subject lines might be, “[Event] registration ending soon!” or “Last day to pre-order [product],” etc.
  • Personalize the subject line. Any custom fields you’ve created in our software can also be typed in to the subject line. Using this method, you can reference your subscribers’ specific interests, geographical areas, past purchases, etc, in the subject line, to make it relevant to each individual subscriber.
  • Avoid “spammy” sounding phrases and keywords. Words such as “free,” “sale,” “50% off,” “you are a winner,” “guaranteed,” etc, are all common phrases that can be found in spam message subject lines. The very presence of these words and phrases can cause your messages to be sent to your subscribers’ spam folders, or can deter your subscribers from opening your campaigns.
  • Send a Split Campaign with different subject lines to compare results. Not sure if your subject is crossing the line from “catchy” to “spammy?” Try sending a Split Campaign. Split Campaigns are campaigns that allow you to send different versions of your message to different portions of your list, and compare the resulting statistics. You can even set up your campaign to pause for a period of time, before comparing results, and sending the version of the message that has the highest open percentage to the rest of your list.


Encourage Users To Download Images

Our software tracks opens by placing an HTML image tag at the bottom of each message you send out. For this reason, users must click “download images,” or “display images” in their email clients, before they will register as having opened the message on your campaign report. (Also for this reason, “text-only” type campaigns will never include open tracking.) There may be some users who are actually viewing your emails, but not appearing in your campaign report, because they did not download/display images in their email client. To help make sure all subscribers who are opening your messages are being tracked properly:

  • Improve your email template design. If you design a clean, structured email template (using HTML tables), your users are more inclined to notice when images are clearly missing from the design, and they will then be more likely to click “display images” or “download images” in their email client. Definitely do not design your templates in such a way that your message doesn’t make sense at all without images — but it would be a good idea to try to design your template such that there will be empty squares, or text captions, where images should reside.
  • Include a web copy link at the top of your message. Our software allows you to insert a “web copy” link in to your message. This will link your subscribers to a web page that displays an exact copy of your campaign. If your subscribers are having trouble viewing your email message, they can click that link to see an online copy of the message instead. They will be tracked as an “open” if they click this link.


Though there are endless suggestions for improving open rates, these are some great starting points. Message content and sending practices will of course be customized and different to suit every business’ needs, and there is no guaranteed way to improve open rates for all email marketing campaigns — but following these suggestions might be all you need to kick-start your Email Marketing efforts, and make your email campaigns more effective.