Unlock These 5 Effective Strategies to Improve Your Email Open Rates

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No matter what your current open rates are for your eCommerce email list, we can all agree that we want to improve them.

After all, the entire point of sending emails is to make sure that they get opened since email opens eventually equals revenue.

When you focus on improving this one area of your email marketing metrics, you can unleash other data that can further improve your email marketing and revenue as a whole.

But you already know that.

So no more lollygagging from me.

Let’s hop to it!

In this article you will learn:

  • What the average open rate is
  • 5 tips for higher open rates

What is The Average Email Open Rate?

Well, that depends on your industry. However, the overall industry average for 2019 was 13.94%. 

                                                              (source: smartinsights)

With that being said, eCommerce as a whole hits the average at 15.68% which gives you a good benchmark for what you’re aiming for.

But, more opens is always better.

So be sure you look at where you’re at now, how you compare to the average, and then set a goal of where you want to be.

Some marketers like to play it with a safe number they know they can hit. But aim for more than what you’re comfortable with. That will push you to do your best every time.

Below are 5 tips to help you bump up your numbers, low open rates or not!  

5 Tips for Maximizing Open Rates

1. Focus on Deliverability 

If you want to get more opens, then you need to first figure out where your emails are landing.

20% of all marketing emails don’t even make it to the inboxes. Which doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you realize that Statia projects that the number of email campaigns sent for 2020 will reach over 306 billion.  


And that total number is daily sends...

Not annual.

20% of those don’t get seen and that could include your own.

There are a lot of things you can do to improve your email deliverability and bounce rates.

Things like:

  • Adhering to email SEO best practices (yup, that’s a thing)
  • Creating sub-accounts for different email types (From email address for a newsletter vs. From email for customer service)
  • Keeping your list clean of inactive subscribers

And that’s just to name a few.

We cover a lot of that in our 2020 Guide to Email Deliverability.

2. Optimize Your Email Subject Lines

If you’ve done the work to land in the email inbox, the next piece to get your subscriber to open is your subject line and the preheader text.

Say what you want about this area of your emails, but this is holy marketing territory. It’s not enough to just type up something quick for these to get your email out the door.

Because improved open rates are the gateway to improved click-through rates (and lower unsubscribe rates)!

So, you need to nail these areas or all that effort to get into the inbox is wasted effort.

And that’s just the worst….

That’s where some copywriting prowess can really help you.

But don’t worry.

You don’t need to be a “master copywriter” to create headlines that get opened. At the bare bones of it, copy is just the ability to use words to create action and there is a lot on the web to help you learn how to write engaging subject lines and preheader text.

On top of that, there are a few tactics you can start implementing today that don’t require the copy work or trial and error:

  • Test your headline copy. Many ESPS let you A/B test your headlines. (We let you test up to 4! *swoon*) This test helps you decipher which one is performing better to give you the best advantage to get your emails opened.
  • Use their name in the copy. You’re probably already doing this and that’s great! If not, try it out and see how it goes.
  • Stick to emotional words. What is an “emotional word”? Good question. These types of words simply elicit an emotional response. We even created a list of 34 of these that work for increasing your email options. CoSchedule also has this free tool to help you create emotional-driven subject lines that drive opens. Use that a few times and you’ll start to get the hang of it.
  • Preheader text flows with the subject line. I know most of us have moved from picking up and reading a good old fashioned newspaper, but you can learn a lot from them for writing email copy. There’s almost always a sub-heading that builds on the main headline above it. Subject lines and preheader text should work similarly.  

And the last bit of advice: Don’t get hung up on writing the perfect subject line and preheader text!

I know that may seem counterintuitive considering I called it the “holy marketing territory” early, but really — don’t get hung up on this.

Aim to improve your skills as you write and send your emails.

Done and sent is better than perfect and waaaaay too late.

3. Personalize Through Segmentation 

Personalize this. Personalization that.

Everywhere you turn you’ll hear nearly every marketing expert talking about this and it’s not just marketing buzz.

Instapage found that 52% of email subscribers agreed that if an email isn’t personalized to them, they’ll go somewhere else to spend their money.

But you need to do more than just use someone’s name to really personalize your emails to them.

And you can do that through segmentation and tags.

These two things help you create lists that bracket off your audience so you can further customize the customer journey to them.


  • Male vs. Female customers
  • Canadian vs USA subscribers
  • 1 local zip code vs another

With smart segmentation strategies, you can create lists that divvy up your list like this to give you more customization controls to send people more personalized, relevant content.

Tags are similar in that they let you create lists based on interests, past purchases, and many other things. We cover how to use tags to organize your contacts in a recent post here.

Will segmenting automatically lead to more opens?

No, that’s not how it works.

However, as your subscribers become accustomed to you sending them highly personalized offers or content based on their behaviors and interests, they’ll be more inclined to open your emails because of it.

Segmenting is all part of a healthy email marketing strategy, and it can most definitely affect your open-rates.  

4. Using Multivariate Testing On Your Email Content

As the name suggests, multivariate testing lets you test multiple variations of your email content. 

In concept, it’s like A/B testing. However, this option gives you much more flexibility because you can test more than one change against your control group. 


We’ve built this into our platform with Sendlane Experiments.

Not only can you test up to 4 variations of your subject line, but you can also test up to that many times with your preheader text and content too.

When talking about this in the context of open-rate this can be a huge benefit.


Because you can test your subject lines and send them to part of your email audience.

Depending on the one that gets the most opens, our platform will then pick the winning variation and send that to the rest of your email recipients that you desire to have it sent to.

This is a huge advantage because you’re no longer guessing if your subject line is effective. You can test it out and then send the one you know works.

If you’d like to test this out, you can sign up for a free Sendlane trial right here. We don’t take a credit card for this, so you can get right to testing it out for your brand.

5. Send Your Emails At The Right Time For Your Audience

When your emails land in your subscriber’s inbox is just as important as what you’ve sent.

After all, you could take all the measure’s needed to get that email in the inbox, but if everyone is asleep when you send it, it’s probably going to get buried under all the other emails they’ll get right around the time they’re waking up (and checking their phone in bed) or on their morning commute.

It’s part of the reality of life.

So sending emails to your subscribers at a time that works best for them is important to getting your emails opened.


There is a LOT of data out there telling you when’s the best time to send your emails.

According to Hubspot, emails sent around the time it is 11 AM for your subscribers incur the best open-rate.


Source: Hubspot

However, data from found that people were most likely to open emails around 8 PM-12 AM which proved interesting since the rate goes up but the number of actually sent at this time drops way down.



This could indicate that the best time to send your emails is actually much later in the day.

The reason the data seems to be all over the place is because of one clear fact:

Every audience is different. They live in different places. They’re interested in different things. And one brand may excel in email vs another.

So these averages can make it hard to set absolute rules here. That’s why you should test out letting your subscribers set the time they want to get your emails.

In Sendlane, we have a feature, called Machine Learning Open Predictability, where you can send emails out based on the email opening behaviors for each subscriber.

That way, you’re not guessing or using other brand’s benchmarks that are entirely outside of your industry. You’re sending them at the right time that works for your brand’s audience.

This helps lead to a better open rate every time.

Pretty nifty, eh?

Open-Rates Are Important but Keep Things Well-Rounded 

Open-rates are a vital metric for measuring the success of your campaigns, and focusing on improving them is always a good idea.

Keep in mind though, that it’s only one piece of a well-rounded marketing plan.

Some campaigns will naturally have a lower rate than others. (newsletter = lower; order confirmation = higher) If you focus only on one metric, you’ll miss out on possible red flags, revenue opportunities, and so on.

So, yeah, open-rates are important. But don’t become so focused that you lose sight of the whole picture.

Ready to start boosting your open rates? Sign up for your 14-day free trial of Sendlane to gain access to all of our robust features including deep-data reporting and multivariate testing!

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