5 Useful ways to help you improve email open and click through rates

Ask any digital marketing agency and they’ll tell you email marketing is, and always will be, of utmost importance because it’s one of the main ways brands connect with their audience.

Well, just like marketing in general, email marketing is filled with changing trends that need to be considered if you want a winning strategy. With that in mind, two metrics to keep an eye on are open rates and click-throughs, which are excellent measures of engagement and tell you exactly what you need to know: whether or not your campaign is going well.

While the former tells you how many of your emails are actually being opened, and is calculated by dividing emails opened by emails sent, and the latter shows you how many clicks your emails are getting based on the amount of people who opened the email.

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Considering that these two things not only show you how many people are opening your emails, but also how they’re engaging with them, it’s very important to keep both metrics high.

To do so, you can do a couple of things that will, without a doubt, improve your email open rates and CTRs. For example, let’s take a look at 5 such things.

1: Segment and personalize

Up first, are you sending every email to everyone on your list? If so, please stop ASAP because that’s a sure way of pushing your subscribers to unsubscribe.

Not everyone is, or will be interested in every email you send, and sending indiscriminately will just annoy and push them away.

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Instead, send relevant information to every recipient because the more relevant the email, the more likely they are to take an appropriate action, which means high opens and CTRs. As to the how, it’s all about segmentation and splitting up your audience into different groups.

Along similar lines, the more personalized the email, the more likely it is to be opened as well. A quick disclaimer, this does not mean simply using their name (although using a first name in the subject line does increase the open-rate by 20–25%).

Rather, it’s personalizing each email with tailored content that pertains to them and only them. For example, we are in the midst of a big data trend that’s placing more and more customer information in your hands.

To translate, this means you have a wealth of information about what your users want and will actually purchase, so don’t let this opportunity go to waste.

2: Use images

We, as humans, are visual creatures, and including imagery in an email will make it better. In fact, a study that analyzed over 5,000 campaigns found that those with images had a 42% higher CTR than campaigns without images, 80% had five emails or less, and that CTRs peaked at one image, three images and five images.

Additionally, a survey by HubSpot found that 65% of respondents prefer emails that contain mostly images, versus 35% who prefer mostly text. But, as Neil Patel explains, “Spam filters flag emails with a small amount of copy but a large number of images.”

In other words, you better make sure your emails have at least one image for the biggest impact, but don’t overdo it to the point that it’s all imagery.

Note: Because images don’t always load for some email clients, include relevant alt text that will show up if the images do not (which will also complement your SEO services as well).

3: Offer social sharing options

We live in a world dominated by social media. Whatever your industry and whomever makes up your audience, chances are good that a majority can be found in one social platform or another.

Thankfully for you, this means that adding a social component to your email will improve its chance of spurring an appropriate action from your recipient.

In fact, emails with social sharing buttons have a 158% higher CTR than those without (2.4% CTR versus 6.2%), with the following CTR breakdown per platform:

  •       LinkedIn (7.9%)
  •       Facebook (6.2%)
  •       Twitter (6.2%)
  •       Google+ (5.3%)
  •       Pinterest (5%)

4: Get the time right

When it comes to email marketing, timing is one of the top factors that determines if an email will even be opened in the first place.

Think about it — if your emails arrives when your recipient can’t take an appropriate action (or open it), do you really think they’ll mark it as ‘unread’ and save it for later? Not likely.

What you want is for your email to arrive at an optimal time, and according to research by Spaceship, the best time to send emails is at night. More specifically, the time of day that received the best open rate was between 8pm and midnight (across 3 continents: USA, EU and AUS).

It’s important to note that this period didn’t just show better open rates (about a 20% increase), but also higher CTRs and responses as well.


Finally, the only way of knowing what’s working and what’s not is by testing. To this end, A/B testing will be your best friend.

As Blake Miller, Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce explains, “A/B testing is the process of evaluating email content by sending one control email to a portion of email subscribers and the same email with one variable to the other portion of subscribers.”

This means testing everything, from subject lines and preview text, to your layouts and CTAs, to make sure everything works like a well-oiled machine.

Just don’t forget to do as Blake suggests and choose one variable to manipulate per test; otherwise you may attribute an outcome to the incorrect cause.

Let’s take a second look

Every single email you send out should have a specific purpose and goal — why are you sending it?

With a clear goal in mind, you have to tailor that email accordingly and make sure the content and layout reflect it and are conducive for whatever action you want your recipients to take, i.e. a click-through that gets them on your website.

With that in mind, let’s take a second look at what we covered today to bolster your efforts:

  1. Segment and Personalize
  2. Use Images
  3. Offer Social Sharing Options
  4. Get the Time Right

Best of luck! Share your thoughts in the comments.


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