Need help before then? Email us for our recommended writers list!

Currently accepting inquiries for projects starting MAY 2024 →

Rainbow open sign

5 Secrets to Boosting Your Email Open Rates


Content Creation, Content Marketing, Content Planning

With BILLIONS of emails being sent every day (yes, BILLIONS), it’s hard to stand out in a crowded inbox. I mean, think of your own inbox right now. 

Ashley here, and personally, my inbox is sitting at just above 9,000 unread emails and counting. AKA: Latasha’s worst nightmare. Even if you’re a ‘cant-relax-until-my-inbox-is-at-zero’ type of person, think of all the emails that still flood your inbox on a daily basis. It’s a bit overwhelming, yeah?

So, as someone who sends emails as part of your email marketing strategy, how can you capture the attention of subscribers and boost your email open rates?

We’re not gonna lie: It takes a lot of fine-tuning, data gathering, adapting, and, of course, lots of trial and error. With the right email marketing tools and tactics, however, you can get your audience to actually open your emails instead of sending them to the trash (or letting them pile up like I do).

Here are our best tips for boosting email open rates.

Test different subject lines

When you don’t have solid open rates, it can be really hard to figure out what exactly isn’t working with your emails. The best place to start? Your subject lines.

After all, they’re the ultimate hook to get people to open your email. Think about it: The subject line of an email is the only thing audiences can see before deciding your email is worth opening. (Once it’s actually open, that’s an entirely different story.) 

To make sure you’re putting your best subject lines forward, it’s time to start testing them out. What do we mean by that? Also called A/B testing or split testing, tons of email programs let you send the same email with two different subject lines. From there, you can see first-hand which subject line got more opens and which one was left to rot in inbox purgatory. 

Not sure which parts of your subject lines to test? 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Add elements of personalization (like first names) 
  • Test out generic vs. specific phrases (like ‘sale’ vs. ‘20% off’)
  • Add a sense of urgency to one subject line
  • Highlight different content topics altogether (and see which one garners more interest)

Here’s an example of what two different subject lines for the same email might look like:

Subject line 1: You’re a wizard, Harry! Enjoy 20% off through Friday

Subject line 2: Sale on all wands and textbooks!

Harry Potter nerdery aside, testing subject lines like this can provide hella valuable insight about what captures the attention of your muggles subscribers. Use your data to figure out which keywords and subjects get the most opens, then rinse and repeat!

Hot tip: Most email programs have A/B settings that send your two subject lines to small sample groups (Group A and Group B). Then, based on open rates, it automatically chooses the winning subject line to send to the rest of your email list. Use this to your advantage.

Test different send times

Like different subject lines, you can also test out different send times. Some people might be up and at ‘em first thing in the morning, while others may prefer a mid-day or evening cruise through their inbox. How do you find that sweet spot, then? 

Once again, you tap into your new BFF, A/B testing. With it, you can also test the timing of your emails to see when your subscribers are most likely to open them. Do certain days and times perform better than others? Keep a close eye on your data and peak open rates to narrow down the best time to hit their inbox with your magic.

Be consistent

If you come off as all laid-back and relaxed on Instagram, but your emails scream BUY THIS, BUY THIS, BUY THIS!, there’s gonna be a really big disconnect for your audience. What we mean is: Be consistent. In your brand, in your content, in your tone — in everything. 

First, figure out what your goal is with each email. 

  • Is it to get more sales? 
  • Is it to inform? 
  • Is it to provide an offer?
  • Is it a newsletter?

Whatever that end goal is, go with it and stick with it.

Don’t try to sell them a bunch of things or touch on too many topics or send an email just for the hell of it. Instead, make sure each email is actually providing value, so your subscribers know what to expect every time.

Prune your email list regularly

Sending emails to someone who isn’t even interested in what you have to say?

GIF of woman saying 'Aint Nobody Got Time for That'

Sure, a really long list of subscribers is something to be proud of. But if a lot of them aren’t even opening your emails, it’s time to kick ‘em to the curb.

First, take stock of your email list and weed out anyone who hasn’t opened your emails in quite a while. If you’re not ready to let go just yet, create an email sequence that subtly calls them out and provides one last chance to stay subscribed. For example:

Subject 1: Hiya Harry, I haven’t heard from you in a while
Subject 2: Did you disappear under an invisibility cloak? 

Let them know how long it’s been since you’ve heard from them and give them the option to continue receiving your emails or to unsubscribe altogether. If they ghost you again, it’s time to take the hint and remove them from your list.

From there, prune your email list regularly — whether that’s once a week, once a month, or once a quarter. Send out the same ‘last chance’ email sequence to those who have gone MIA and continue to make cuts where it makes the most sense.

Remember: While getting rid of non-openers can boost your open rates, it’s only a temporary solution. You can’t forget to cultivate connections with those who are opening your emails if you want to continue to see your open rates thrive. 

Be yourself 

No matter your business, brand, or marketing strategies, you know what we’re gonna say to you:

BE. YOURSELF. (Or your brand.)

Seriously, though: Your emails don’t have to be stuffy or corporate-sounding or follow a cookie-cutter template. They should have personality and be conversational. They should be transparent and honest. They should feel like you’re emailing one of your BFFs — inappropriate GIFs and all. (I mean, have you met us?)Because, at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to shine through the MOST on your emails. If your audience knows it’s coming from an actual human being (that’s you!), they’ll be a lot more inclined to open them to see what you have to say.

join the Uncanny Content newsletter.