Top 3 Ways To Boost Your Email Open Rates


Before we dive into our subject, I’d like to admit that I am by no means a professional email marketer to be writing an article on this. Nevertheless, after I took some time to cover the fundamentals of email marketing and a few misguided attempts at sending marketing emails, it’s safe to say that I am ready to share my two cents on email open rates.

So, beginners, take notes!

Irrespective of how well versed you are in email marketing, email open rates are inarguably the first metric you look at after every email sent. This metric is exceptionally crucial to measure the success of your campaign. In hindsight, it isn’t the only metric that matters.

When assigned to create a responsive email from scratch, email marketers generally take 2-4 hours to complete it. They put equal thought and effort into crafting the graphics, design, and copy. The email depicted below took me around 2 hours to create. I have ensured that the copy is not only appealing but also engaging.

Email Campaign created using Freshmarketer

After a few rounds of testing and updating, I hit the send button, and it’s out there! My email campaign is a part of as many as 1000 inboxes across the world. It is intended to drive more traffic to our landing pages. But, they’d have to open my email first.

This is how the email looks in my subscriber’s inbox:

My email either grabs the reader’s attention, or it’s ignored for eternity or even worse, it gets tossed into the junkyard of futile electronic emails.

So, how did I do? Umm…Not too well.

Here’s where I went wrong:

Creating a well-thought-out email is only one half of the pie. Despite all my efforts on the email itself, three important aspects of boosting my email’s open rate were taken for granted. As a consequence of which, it was left unopened. 


The sender, subject line and preheader of your emails are the most important factors in getting them(emails) opened and read. (Source)


1. The Sender

Most times, we open our inboxes and notice that a large number of emails are just automated email responses from various businesses. You have around 2 seconds to impress an emailee. Both the sender’s name and the email address play a massive role in determining the open rate of an email. You need to choose a name or title that your email subscribers will recognize.

An email with a sender name- ‘Angela’ would achieve a higher open rate over an impassive sender address representing an ABC organization. But, the odds of people associating your brand with your name is very low. The best practice would be to place the sender name followed by his/her organization for brand recall. 

Adhering to this, I changed my sender name and address.

My email is officially one step closer to being noticed.

2. The Subject Line

When you send an email marketing campaign, keep in mind that your target audience’s inbox is filled with tonnes of promotions from your competitors, product updates, newsletters, and a significant volume of miscellaneous emails. So, what’s the best way to get noticed? The obvious answer is to charm your subscribers with a killer subject line!

Writing an enticing subject line can be challenging. Pulling it off means you deserve a pat on the back.

Here are some tips to help you nail it:

  • Tease the readers with the possible benefits they would miss out on if they don’t read the email.
  • Keep the subject line short and catchy. (Use 21-40 characters).

“Open Rates By Subject Line Length: 6-10 Words (21%), 0-5 Words (16%), 11-15 Words (14%), 16-20 Words (12%)”- Business2Community.

  • Make it optimized for mobile readers too.
  • Place the more important words at the beginning of the line.
  • Personalize your subject line so the reader finds it more individualized.

“Non-personalized subject lines had open rates of 14.1% compared to 21.2% for emails personalized with names and 22% for emails with another type of personalization.” – Business2Community.

  • Try to avoid writing your subject line in ALL CAPS.
    Funny gif on why all caps text are used.
  • Use numbers and emojis to captivate your reader.
  • Avoid excessive use of exclamation points!!!
  • Use CTA phrases like ‘enroll now’ and, ‘sign up’  to create a sense of urgency.
  • Avoid the spam filter by excluding words like ‘spam’, ‘free’ and ‘guarantee’.

        Here’s a list of words you should be avoiding:


Keeping these in mind, I tweaked my existing subject line to this:

Tweaked subject line

Dear email marketers, there’s one last step.

3. The Preheader

The preheader is the third most crucial element to increase your email’s open rate. It is the preview text that is displayed next to or below the subject line in the inbox. An extension of the subject line, a preheader gives you more real estate to convinces the reader to open the email.

Make sure you do not neglect the preheader to be merely an afterthought. Here’s why:

  1. You get as many as 40-120 characters to write them to support your subject lines.
  2. Emails with great preheaders have a lower risk of ending up in the spam folder.
  3. In a world with emails being read predominantly on mobiles, preheaders add more purpose since they are more noticeable on these devices.

Also, ensure your preheader is not a duplicate of the subject line and please do not leave it blank. The dangers of leaving it blank, are depicted below:

Example of a bad preheader


When was the last time you received an annoying email like this? But why do such emails get sent in the first place?

When you do not explicitly mention a preheader text, the first string of text in your email gets automatically updated as the preheader description. The result might be unfortunate if the first line of text in your email is something irrelevant to your email’s content like account information, view-in-browser link, device name or something else that would do very little to allure a reader. To the trash can, it goes!

Now since that’s covered, I went ahead and filled one in for my email.

New preheader

Also, fun fact: Preheaders are otherwise known as Johnson boxes which were named after Frank Johnson who popularized its use.

Facts apart, this is how my email will pop up in my subscriber’s inbox after all tweaking:

The tweaked email

Pretty good, isn’t it? The next step would be to analyze the email open rate, of course.

Email open rate formula

19.81%is the average email open rate for email marketing software and web app email marketing.

Deliver valuable content consistently and your subscribers will open your emails(instantaneously), even before you could say, Jack Robinson! And, when that happens, you know you have successfully built brand awareness through email marketing.


A spike in your email opens is the stepping stone to achieving more leads, traffic, and ultimately- conversions.  As I mentioned earlier, open rates aren’t the only metrics that matter. Judge your email marketing performance by looking at the bigger picture. To know more, read this insightful content on email marketing metrics.

You could even A/B test your emails’ subject lines and preheaders, analyze the results and, determine what works best for your campaign.

Let’s strive to adhere to the practices I mentioned in this blog and achieve higher email open rates from this day forth.

It’s time your emails get noticed!