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Top Tips for Optimising Your Email Open Rate

You’ve spent lots of time crafting what you think is the perfect email copy. You’ve also got a compelling call-to-action and have inserted some useful links. But your open rates are still less than impressive. It can be infuriating.

Often, it has less to do with the email copy itself than the subject line. That’s right, those few words play a very big role in determining whether or not your audience will decide if your email is worth reading or worth trashing.

Some interesting data from Sidekick found that emails with personalised subject lines are 20% more likely to get opened, and emails with subject lines containing 50 or fewer characters have the best open rates.  So how can you best put these findings into practice?



Use your recipients’ names

Personalise your email with your recipient’s name or company name. Here are two ways to approach it:

Hi (name), (question)?

This makes your recipient feel like the email was written just for them. We’re trained to react when we hear our name, and the same goes for when we see it written down. A question also prompts them to click through to search for the answer.

Try using it like this:

Hi John, are your AdWords costs rising?

Another way to use this personal approach is to incorporate your reader’s personal details such as their profession or location, or any other relevant info that you have access to.

And, when sending a cold email, a good way to grab your readers’ attention is to incorporate their company name like so:

(Company’s name) + (Your company)


WME + John’s Fresh Food

This simple yet effective subject line will pique John’s curiosity and lead him to think about how you’re proposing to work together, or what you’re planning on offering him.

Recognise those who do read your content

An email I received from marketing consultant Hootville popped up in my inbox with the subject line:

A special email to the committed citizens of Hootville

As an avid reader of their blog and newsletter, it was a good feeling to be rightfully recognised as one of their biggest fans. Obviously, I opened the email and was pleased to read that I was being given a heads up on one of their courses.

A little bit of intrigue goes a long way

I recently received an email from an online magazine that I subscribe to with the subject line of:

Forgive my bragging, but…

Everyone appreciates a little mystery every now and then, and this humorous subject line immediately made me want to know what they were boasting about. Once I opened the email, I read that their newly launched print edition of their magazine had been nominated for a prestigious award. And they were reminding me to buy a copy. Perfect subject line plus a clear call-to-action = email success.

And remember… 

When writing your next email subject line, keep it under 50 characters. The data doesn’t lie and this has been found to be the optimum character count for higher open rates. It’s also a good idea to write out numerous subject lines and see how they fit with your copy before making your final decision. While it’s not a lot of words, it’ll have a big impact on how many people read your email.


By Cassie Chorn

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