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How can you improve open and click rates in email marketing? The 13 most efficient tactics

E-mail marketing stands and falls with the opening and click rates (OR, opening rates; CTR click-through rates). Because: What use is the best newsletter if nobody reads it? So its importance is undisputed, but improving email open and click rates continues to be one of the biggest challenges for marketers.

In this article, we present 13 ways to improve the opening and click rates of newsletters. Most of the tips are easy and quick to implement, but they can still make a huge difference.

Let's get started.

1. Define which values ​​are good for you and your industry

What is the goal of your email marketing? Generate more leads? Or do you send internal newsletters and want to inform your employees about the latest company news? The answer to this question forms the basis for determining the right opening and click rates for your newsletter.

In internal corporate communication, the opening rate is usually almost 100%, while significantly lower percentages are the norm in B2B e-mail marketing.

Statista has collected and published data on open rates in various industries and in the DACH region. Check the benchmarks for your industry and compare them to other sectors for a meaningful value.

2. Personalize emails

If you really want to impress your newsletter subscribers, it is no longer enough to just add the recipient's first name to the subject line. According to the latest research, personalized subject lines only improve open rates by 2%.

Go a step further by delivering hyper-personalized newsletters for different customer segments. Just like Netflix offers you movies based on your viewing history.

3. Plan your subject lines carefully

Plan your subject lines carefully, and be aware that the subject line is the first thing you will see of your newsletter.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Make the subject line interesting, but avoid so-called "click-bait"
  • Keep it short: a maximum of 50 characters on the desktop and 35 characters on the mobile phone
  • Loosen up the whole thing and use emojis

Depending on your industry and the purpose of your email, subject lines can be either formal or informal. Here are a few good examples of subject lines with varying tones:

  • It's the Future, Don't Be a Video Dinosaur 🦖 (Vidyard)
  • We have a summer gift for you inside (AirBnB)
  • Five items you need for your next business trip. (Trunk club)

4. Don't forget the preheader

Isn't it frustrating to receive emails with such pre-headers?

It sure is.

Pre-headers are a brief preview of the content of the newsletter, and it's important to be well-planned. The following applies:

  • The pre-header should contain something other than the subject line or the logical continuation of this.
  • The pre-header should be less than 85 characters long, otherwise part of the text will be cropped.

5. Run A / B tests

Professional online marketing also has a lot to do with experimentation and trial and error, and email marketing is no exception. Most email marketing tools have built-in A / B testing. Use this feature and test what works best for your subject line or for the content of your newsletters.

How does the process work? Imagine having a choice of two different subject lines and wanting to see which of the two works better. In this case you create two different subject lines for your newsletter and your newsletter tool will then send a test mailing with different subject lines to 10% of the contacts in your database. Within a predefined time window, the system recognizes which variant has achieved the higher opening rates and sends this version to the other recipients.

Here are a few examples of what you can test:

  • How adding an emoji affects your open rates
  • How changing the color of your CTA affects clicks
  • Whether adding more graphics to the text of your email increases the click-through rate
  • How different keys in newsletters affect your click rate

6. Select the correct time zone

If it lands in an inbox at 1 a.m., how likely is it that your newsletter will open? The chances are close to zero.

When sending newsletters to customers around the world, you can segment your subscribers by location to make sure they get your emails at the right time. For example, you can add the location field to your subscription form:

When planning your emails, consider national holidays and vacation times as well. In addition, you should be well aware of the busiest time of the day and other local preferences in your destination area.

7. Maintain and expand your subscriber lists

The quickest way to improve your open rates is to stop email marketing for the recipients who are inactive and never open your newsletters. Inactive subscribers harm your reports and do not add any value. So try to keep your database tidy and regularly remove all inactive subscribers. For example, delete those who haven't opened a newsletter in the last six months. On average, 22.5% of your lists expire every year, so be brave and clean up.

Find out more in our email marketing webinar:

At the same time, you should let your database grow in a targeted manner. Make sure that you use a double opt for your newsletter subscribers and always let future subscribers confirm their subscription. So you are on the safe side when it comes to data protection and exclude all irrelevant contacts and spammers.

8. Segment your recipient lists

The idea behind segmenting your email database is to provide relevant content for different audiences. As a result, your readers will get the content they really want, and your reports should result in higher open and click rates. There are innumerable segmentation strategies, the most common are:

  • Demographics
  • geography
  • Buying behavior

Once you've segmented your customers, you can use marketing automation to send them the relevant content.

9. Play around with your sender name

The sender's name is the most important factor when opening your email. In fact, 69% of newsletter subscribers say they read newsletters based on the sender.

For this reason, it is a good idea to change your sender name to increase your open rates. For example, give your newsletters a personal touch by choosing the first name of the author as the sender.

Another way to personalize your email is to add the author's name and photo in the footer of your newsletter. That's exactly how we do that:

Your readers will be more likely to interact and open your links when they see a real person behind your emails. As a result, you benefit from higher open rates.

10. Watch out for SPAM words

Certain words used in your newsletters can cause your emails to end up in the spam folder. Logically, this has a negative impact on your open rates. Make sure you don't use them, especially in your subject lines.

Avoid these words and phrases, among others:

  • Free
  • 100% free
  • Profit
  • Deserve
  • Make money online

In a nutshell: Avoid words that make exaggerated promises and can look dodgy or unethical. Here is a list of 30 common email spam triggers.

Also, always do a spam check before clicking submit. Most email marketing providers have a spam checker that will scan your newsletter and identify potential spam triggers.

11. Make sure your newsletters have high quality content

If your subscribers are happy with your content, they are more likely to open your emails in the future and become loyal readers. So follow the latest trends in your industry and experiment with new formats to see what your subscribers like.

Other ways in which you can regularly create top newsletter content:

  • Ask your readers about the topics they would like to see in your emails (e.g. through a survey)
  • Check your newsletter reports regularly to see which topics are particularly well received
  • Track your website traffic and see which pages have the most traffic from emails
  • Ask your sales team about the most frequently asked questions from your customers

12. Check your bounces

Let's do a little math: the open rate is calculated by dividing the number of people who opened the email by the number of emails sent minus the number of emails returned (the ones that didn't reach the recipient) .


In the perfect world, the bounce rate should be as low as possible. But why "bounce" newsletters and how can the problem be fixed? Bounces are divided into two groups depending on the reason:

Soft bounces: Typically caused by a temporary delivery issue due to a recipient server failure or a full inbox. These are difficult to fix, but it is good to be aware of them.

Hard bounces: The recipient email address or domain does not exist. Delete hard bounces from your lists and your bounce rate will improve. The majority of email marketing providers automatically delete emails that repeatedly bounce.

You can check the reason for bounces in your reports and remove the hard bounces from your database.

13. Carefully plan your calls-to-action

People are almost blind to CTAs like "More Information" or "More Shop". To improve your click-through rates, plan your CTA carefully. Here you can find out, for example, how Invision makes CTA appealing:

Would you like to regularly learn new things about email marketing?