The Complete Email Open Rate Guide: 10 Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rate

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It’s projected that an average of 333.2 billion emails will be sent each day in 2022.

But what’s the point of sending thousands of marketing emails if they’re never opened?

To figure out if your emails are actually being opened, you can calculate your email open rate.

If you aren’t sure how to calculate your open rate, how to improve it, or what it is in the first place, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with this ultimate beginner’s guide to email open rates.

1. What is an email open rate?

What is an email open rate?

The email open rate is the percentage of email recipients that open your email — this could be applied to a specific email or an entire campaign.

Your email open rate gives you a pretty clear indication of how engaging your email campaign is.

It can also alert you to disinterested subscribers — if they’re consistently leaving your emails unopened, why waste another email on them?

While your open rate is one of the must-have email marketing metrics, it’s important to note that it’s not entirely accurate.

This is because of the way opened emails are recorded:

1. Each email contains a unique, invisible 1x1 tracking pixel — it’s completely transparent and does not affect your email design.

2. Once all your images have been downloaded, the invisible pixel downloads — if your images don’t download, neither does your pixel.

3. The pixel’s unique content is downloaded from your email service.

4. Your email service picks this up and marks the email as opened.

Alternatively, an opened email can also be logged when the recipient clicks on a link in your email.

This means that an open won’t be counted in the following cases:

  • Certain email clients automatically block images, therefore your pixel is never downloaded — Android and Outlook’s desktop version are notorious for this
  • Your recipient only reads the email preview — Images aren’t downloaded in this case as well
  • Your recipient sets their email preferences to text-only which doesn’t support the tracking pixel

It’s also possible for your open rates to be overestimated. For example, the Apple Mail Privacy Protection, launched in September 2021, has led to more opens being recorded than in reality.

The bottom line — take your open rate with a grain of salt.

1.1. How to calculate your email open rate

How to calculate your email open rate

To calculate your open rate, you divide the number of emails opened by the number of emails delivered and then multiply by 100.

For example, out of 100 emails you send, 90 of them got delivered, and 20 were opened — 20 ÷ 90 x 100 = 22.22% open rate.

It’s really that simple!

1.2. What is a good open rate?

Now that you can calculate your own open rate, you’re probably wondering, “Is my open rate good enough?”

To answer this question, the best place to look is the average email open rate — however, there’s a bit of a debate over what the real average is.

Depending on the study, the average email open rate ranges from 11.8%-29.4% — this equals an overall average open rate of around 20.6%.

So it’s safe to say that an open rate over 20% is one to be happy with.

If you want to take it one step further, you can check your industry average open rate — this will give you a more specific open rate to aim for.

Here’s a quick rundown of some industry average email open rates, according to Constant Contact:

Table of average email open rates per industry

Table of average email open rates per industry

Using these email marketing statistics, you can get a good sense of what a winning email open rate in your industry looks like.

1.3. Factors affecting your email open rate

Now that you’ve calculated your open rate, the result may be lagging a bit behind your industry average.

Here are the main factors that can drag your open rate down:

1. The quality of your list — Sending emails to a list of invalid, inactive, or disinterested email addresses is setting yourself up for low email open rates.

2. Ineffective subject lines — A low open rate indicates that your subject lines aren’t effective enough at grabbing the recipient’s attention and enticing them to open your email.

3. Your brand recognition — If a recipient doesn’t recognize your brand, the chances of them opening your emails are slim.

4. The frequency of your emails — Send too few emails, and your recipient will forget your brand; send too many emails, and you’ll annoy your recipient into deleting your emails immediately.

5. Your sending times — Email recipients are much less likely to open emails on certain days and at certain times.

2. Top 10 tips to increase your email open rate

So how do you avoid these nasty traps and improve your open rate?

Just follow these 10 actionable tips, and watch your open rates soar!

Top 10 tips to increase your email open rate

2.1. Optimize your subject lines

Your subject line can either make or break your email marketing campaign.

While 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line, 69% also use the subject line to determine whether or not to mark it as spam.

To ensure the former, and avoid the latter, follow these 7 essential tips to optimize your email subject lines:

  • Keep it short and sweet — Subject lines of 6-10 words perform best; the simpler, the better
  • Brighten it up with emojis — Emojis can bring some life and excitement to your emails, resulting in an open rate that’s 3% higher
  • Use numbers to your advantage — A numbered list or the mention of a discount can be exactly what your recipient needs to entice them to open your email
  • Don’t overuse capital letters and exclamations — Too many capital letters and exclamations can scare your recipient into thinking your email is spam
  • Get creative — Humor, shock, pop culture references, and wordplay can make your subject line stand out from the crowd and amuse your reader
  • Don’t deceive — Tricking your recipient into opening your email with a deceiving subject line can lose their respect and get you into trouble with the email marketing laws

There’s one more thing you can do to take your email subject lines to the next level — personalization!

2.2. Use a personalized subject line

Everyone loves feeling seen as an individual and not just another email address on a long list.

Addressing your recipients directly establishes a friendly and familiar relationship and makes them feel like more than just an email address.



That’s why personalized subject lines have a 22% higher chance of being opened.

Here’s a list of ways to add that personal touch to your email subject lines:

  • Add their first name — People naturally look out for their first name; this will automatically make your email stand out
  • Incorporate other personal information — Gender, location, age, birthday, interests, point of origin, and other personal data can show you how to attract their attention
  • Use subscriber behavior — You can create a subject line that is relevant to them using their behavior, such as cart abandonment, product recommendations, reviews, and promotional emails
  • Segment your list — You can send recipients personalized content that’s catered to each segment

Some of these techniques seem simple, but a little bit of personalization goes a long way.

Personalization becomes easy with a clean and segmented list.

2.3. Clean your list regularly

An email list is very similar to a teenager’s bedroom floor — what starts as a clean, empty surface can quickly turn into a bottomless pit of dirty clothes.

All it takes is a spring clean now and then, and it’s back to its former glory.

Regularly cleaning your list is essential to keeping your email marketing strategy effective and efficient.

You’ll avoid wasting time, money, and emails on invalid or disinterested email addresses.

It’ll also lower hard bounces and trips to the spam folder — no one can open your emails if they aren’t reaching the inbox.

Cleaning your list is simple, all you have to do is:

  • Identify email addresses with a lot of hard bounces, and delete them — they likely don’t exist
  • Remove duplicate and “spammy” email addresses
  • Check your spam complaints, and clear out subscribers that have marked you as spam
  • Make it easy for users to unsubscribe, and make sure to remove those who do
  • Send out a re-engagement campaign to inactive subscribers

2.4. Take advantage of list segmentation

Once you’ve cleaned your list, it’s time to segment it.

List segmentation involves dividing your email list into groups based on subscriber data, such as:

  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Point of origin
  • Sales funnel stage
  • Current engagement

According to email automation expert, Jason Resnick, the best way to segment your list is to ask yourself where the subscriber is in the buyer’s journey.

This will tell you which questions to ask them so that you can tailor your email message and best present your offer back to them.

Segmented campaigns are incredibly effective at getting opened because they give the recipient exactly what they want.

With trusty, top-quality automation software, like, at your side, the whole segmentation process becomes a breeze.

Not only does email automation allow you to automatically segment your email list, but it also automatically sends your segmented campaigns to the right people at the right time — and you don’t have to lift a finger!

2.5. Use a recognizable sender name

What’s your first thought when you see an email that has a sender name that you don’t recognize?

You immediately think it’s spam and delete it right away.

Your sender name plays a crucial role in the recipient’s decision to open your emails.

68% of Americans claim they open emails based on the sender’s name.

Having a clear and recognizable sender name instantly tells the recipient from whom the email was sent.

Your sender name can be:

  • Your business’ name — eg. From
  • A team in your business — eg. From the Marketing Team
  • A person from your business (usually the CEO) — eg. From Aurelian of

The last one is particularly powerful because it adds a human touch which is lost when the sender name is a faceless corporation.

Here’s an example of one of’s sender names:’s recognizable sender name’s recognizable sender name

We create long-lasting relationships, and gain more opens, by establishing a connection, human to human.

2.6. Start with a welcome email

A welcome email is the perfect first introduction to your subscriber.

This is because welcome emails have the highest email open rates of 50% — that’s close to 30% higher than the average!

If you fill your welcome email with the right content, and the recipient likes what they see, the immediate relationship formed means they’ll be much more likely to open every email you send.

To create an effective welcome email, you can include:

  • A warm, personal address — Address them with their first name to start building a personal relationship
  • An exciting explanation of what to expect — Give a detailed description of the kind of emails they can expect from you so that they can look forward to them
  • A request for them to add you to their whitelist — Ask them to whitelist your address to make sure your emails never go to spam accidentally
  • An unsubscribe button — Never forget the unsubscribe button in case they change their mind

A daily newsletter called Morning Brew has a really welcoming first email — they know how to get you excited for their newsletter with their friendly and light-hearted tone:

Morning Brew’s welcome email

Morning Brew’s welcome email

2.7. Send at the right time

Send at the right time

When it comes to sending emails, timing is everything.

The best time to send your emails depends on your industry and target audience.

While there are differences between industries, the general trends show:

  • The top 3 days to send emails are Tuesday, Thursday, and Wednesday, in that order
  • The best times of the day to send emails are 10 am, 2 pm, 6 am, and 8 pm until midnight
  • The worst days to send emails are Saturday and Sunday

But as mentioned, these aren’t hard and fast rules.

For example, if you’re in the entertainment industry, an email on Friday detailing all the weekend events taking place will get lots of opens from all those planning their weekend itineraries.

To find the best time for your audience, consider these tips:

  • Create a buyer persona that represents your specific audience — Consider when this buyer persona would be most likely to open emails
  • Test your times — While playing around with the days and times, you may strike gold with the perfect combo
  • Don’t forget about the time zones — If you have email subscribers from all over the world, remember to factor in the different time zones

Keep experimenting while tracking your email open rates, and you’ll get closer and closer to the perfect sending time.

2.8. Resend unopened emails

Let’s say you write up the most amazing email with guaranteed success, but the open rate just isn’t as high as you hoped.

Does that juicy email content have to be scrapped, thrown to the side, never to be seen again?

Fortunately not!

We have another smart email marketing trick that can give your emails a second chance — when a recipient doesn’t open an email, you can resend the same email with a different subject line.

This gives you a complete do-over. Not only do you get to optimize your subject line, but you also get another shot at your timing.

Maybe you miscalculated the best time for that specific email — no worries, second time’s the charm!

Some email marketing tools even do this for you if you want.

Through marketing automation, they’ll pick up the emails that the recipient failed to open and resend the new and improved version.

However, if a recipient ends up opening the old email and realizes you resent it, they may feel deceived and question your email reputation.

So while it’s a very neat trick, we’d recommend using this tip with caution.

2.9. Be mobile-friendly



42% of emails are opened on a mobile device, so if you want your emails to be opened, you have to cater to mobile recipients.

If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile devices, they’ll be deleted long before they ever have the chance to be opened — 42.3% of recipients will delete emails that aren’t mobile-friendly.

You can optimize your emails for mobile by:

  • Keeping your subject lines short — With the smaller screen, you want to keep your subject line less than 9 words
  • Increasing your font size — Your font size should be 15 or higher
  • Not relying on images — Images don’t always load or can take too long to load if they’re too big, so make sure your emails don’t need the images to be effective
  • Optimizing your links and call-to-actions (CTAs) — It can be difficult to tap links or CTA buttons with our stubby thumbs, so create links that are far apart and large CTA buttons

You want your emails to be so mobile-friendly that even the worst technophobe can open and engage with your email hassle-free.

2.10. Test everything

A/B testing is a key component of every email campaign — the more you test, the more effective your email campaigns will become.

The general rule is to test everything, but when it comes to increasing your open rate, focus on your:

  • Subject line
  • Preheader
  • Sender name
  • Sending times
  • Sending frequency
  • Mobile optimization

Most email marketing tools will have an A/B testing feature ready to rock and roll to take your email marketing campaigns to the next level.

3. Other important metrics to track

While open rates are an incredibly useful metric to measure, some other email metrics are just as important.

Let’s take a quick look at 4 other email key performance indicators (KPIs) to track on top of your open rates.

3.1. Email deliverability

Email deliverability

Your emails can’t be opened if they don’t reach the inbox in the first place.

Your email deliverability rate is the percentage of emails that are successfully delivered to your recipients’ inboxes.

To calculate your email deliverability, you divide the number of emails delivered by the number of emails sent and then multiply by 100.

So what’s a good deliverability rate?

The goal should be 100%, but realistically, you should aim for anything between 80%-99% — you’ll never be able to fully avoid hard bounces and spam filters.

To increase your deliverability rate, you can:

Quite a few metrics rely on your deliverability — without a high deliverability rate, there are no opens, no clicks, and no conversions.

3.2. Click-through rate

Click-through rate

Your email click-through rate is the percentage of recipients that click on content in your email.

This is calculated by taking the number of recipients who have clicked on a link in your email and dividing it by the emails that were delivered, then multiplying by 100.

When looking at the benchmark data, the average click-through rate sits at around 2.19%. However, like open rates, click-through rates heavily depend on the industry.

Tracking the click-through rates of your campaigns gives a clear indication of subscriber engagement.

If subscribers are clicking on your emails, they’re clearly engaged with your content.

Improve your click-through rates by:

  • Personalizing your emails through segmentation and dynamic content
  • Making sure your email content is built for mobile
  • Having strong CTAs that spur the reader into action
  • Sending the right message at the right time
  • Using urgency to entice your recipient into taking action

By increasing your click-through rate, you’ll likely also see an increase in your conversions.

3.3. Conversion rate

 Conversion rate

Your email conversion rate is the percentage of leads converted into customers through your emails.

It’s calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of delivered emails and multiplying it all by 100.

A good conversion rate sits anywhere above the average, which was 15.22% in 2021.

Here are a few tips to improve your conversion rate:

  • Make sure each email has only one offer
  • Create a drip campaign that guides your lead down your sales funnel towards conversion
  • Personalize your email content
  • Create powerful CTAs that express urgency
  • Optimize your emails for mobile

Seeing as most emails have the goal of converting their leads into new customers, conversion rates play a fundamental role in measuring the success of your email marketing campaign.

3.4. Email marketing ROI

Email marketing ROI

Email marketing return on investment (ROI) refers to the financial gain of your email marketing versus the financial loss — did you make more money with email marketing than you spent?

To calculate your email marketing ROI, divide the overall revenue generated from email marketing by the overall cost and then multiply by 100.

Email marketing has the highest ROI compared to other digital marketing strategies — $36 earned for every $1 spent, that’s 3,600%!

Working out your ROI tells you whether or not your email marketing strategy is profitable or just draining your business.

To get an even broader picture of your email marketing, check out these email marketing metrics as well:

  • Bounce rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Click-to-open rate
  • Spam complaint rate
  • Number of new leads per day

If you need some help creating winning email campaigns, look no further than!

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5. Conclusion

Your email open rate is an essential metric to track the success of your email campaigns.

If you calculate your open rate, and it doesn’t reach the email marketing benchmarks, you’re now fully equipped to dramatically improve it yourself.

And if the email marketing benchmarks aren’t up to your standards, don’t be afraid to set your own benchmarks.

Ultimately, you have to find what works best for you and your business — at least that’s what we believe here at

Sign up for a free account today, and watch your open rates, and entire marketing strategy, reach new heights!

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