How to Get Higher Email Open Rates (Without Being Spammy)

How can you get more people to open up your emails?

In the past, we’ve talked about the importance of email and marketing funnels. If you’re not getting people to open your emails or your open rates are really low, then at the end of the day that means fewer conversions.

Jacqueline Foster
Demand Generation Marketing,

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Increase Email Opens


How to Increase Email Open Rates

There are a few things you can do to increase open rates. First, don’t just test the subject line. Everyone believes that the subject line is what affects conversions or opens the most emails, and while that’s partly true, it’s not the whole story.

The “From” name has a huge impact on open rate. If you’re using your company name, that’s fine. Just don’t make the name “Support.” A lot of companies make that mistake. Or they’ll set it as “Marketing” or something silly like that.

If your company name is Shopify, then your “From” should be the name Shopify. If you’re a person, like Neil Patel, your “From” name should be Neil Patel.

Once Neil accidentally sent out an email from his own address using someone else’s name (one of his support employees and the email was [email protected]). You know what the difference in open rates was? It had a 3x lower open rate compared to his own name.

Related Content:The Fastest and Easiest Way to Increase Your Email Open Rates

What’s a Good Open Rate?

It depends. If your list is new and you’re getting 40-50% open rates, you’re doing really well. If you’re at 60%, even better.

You need to look at unique open rates, too. A lot of email tools will just show you total opens but only unique opens eliminate duplicate opens (e.g., one person opening an email multiple times).

If your unique email open rate is above 40%, you're doing extremely well. Share on X

As you keep emailing out to that same list over and over again, what you’ll find is that your open rates actually drop, which is totally normal. But if your open rates ever drop below 20%, you’re doing something wrong. It usually means you have a ton of dead weight on your email list.

You don’t want to be emailing people who aren’t opening your emails. Put those people into a reactivation campaign where you send them something different, maybe a casual email, with a casual subject line so it’s more personalized for re-engagement.

In general, if you have people on your email list who aren’t opening your emails, after a few months you should remove them. If you don’t, email service providers like Gmail will notice and be like, “Oh, wow. All these people aren’t opening up the emails. It’s pretty much as good as spam, so let’s start sending Eric’s emails into the spam folder.”

Keep in mind that deadweight emails don’t just ruin your sender score over time—if you’re using any kind of email automation, they’re probably costing you money, too. That’s why I actually pay per email.

There are a lot of different service providers out there. I use Drip for most of my emails. There’s also Maropost. For marketing automation, there’s Infusionsoft, which plugs into Maropost and figures out who should be getting what email.

Learn More: 9 Cold Email Case Studies with Great Reply Rates

Try Out Emojis in Your Subject Lines

Here’s a subject line hack you should definitely try out. Emojis are hugely popular with the new generations of digital natives.  Case in point: Snapchat recently bought Bitmoji for hundreds of millions of dollars.


So try giving emojis a shot in your subject lines. I’ve tested emojis and find that more people are opening those emails. Quite frankly, emojis stand out. And you want to do everything you can to stand out. It’s the same when you’re running Facebook ads: the very cool videos or the titles with something in brackets are the videos that will get your attention.

Emojis will get people’s attention. Use it while you can, but don’t abuse it.

Why You Should Use Lower-Case Subject Lines

You should also try using lower-case subject lines. They look really casual, like a friend sending you an email, which is why most people open them up.

When my friends email me, especially close friends, they use lower case. They’re so casual that I know it’s from a friend and I open them up right away. In fact, I usually open them before I open my work-related emails.

Also, if you write casual subject lines, you’ll find that more people will open up your emails.

An example: “Eric, I need your help.” Or even something like, “Dude, you have to check this out.” Something so casual that people would subconsciously be like, “Oh, a friend sent this to me.”

Related Content: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!) [podcast]

Don’t Be Formal, Be Conversational

I remember one cold email I got a while back where a guy said, “Hey Eric, your traffic is down 10%” or something like that. So I opened up that email. There was another one that literally only said, “Hey.” I clicked on that one, too, because it was just so unusual. Then I tried it myself and guess what?

I got a 60% open rate on an email I sent out with “Hey” as a subject line. Share on X

If you can personalize the subject line, your open rates will go up, too. For example, in that subject line I mentioned above, my first name was used directly. Lead with the recipient’s name towards the beginning of the subject line. “Eric, your traffic is down 10%” should always get a better open rate than “Your traffic is down 10%.”

Related Content: How to Get More Responses From Cold Emails

Put In the Work and Research

Neil often tells the story of how someone hit him up and said, “Neil, you’re screwing up.” He opened that email and it contained a 40-page PDF of everything he was doing wrong with his marketing. A lot of the stuff in there was inaccurate, but there was a lot of stuff that was right. Most of it he knew, but he was still was like, “Wow. This guy did a lot of work and analyzed my business. And I don’t have as much time as him.”

So Neil emailed him back and said, “Let’s get on the phone.” He called him up and asked, “Where do you work?” The guy told him. Neil asked him how much he got paid ($60,000), then offered him $75,000 on the spot to come work for him instead. The guy was like, “Oh, my wife is about to have a baby. Give me three months and then I’ll work for you.” Neil hit him up three months later. All because of that one email.

Increase Email Opens


In Email Marketing, Patience Is Definitely a Virtue

If you’re sending a ton of emails, especially if you are an organization that relies on SDR (sales development representatives)—there’s a good chance you might get marked as spam. And you might not even know.

A couple years back, this happened to Single Grain when we were sending out a high volume of emails every day. We had a few sales development representatives. We no longer operate in that capacity anymore, because we get a good amount of inbound traffic, but when we were blasting out emails we actually got marked as spam.

This happened even though we were trying to talk to qualified prospects. Some of them told us, “Hey, thanks for following up, but your emails are popping up as spam.” That can be really bad for business.

If you rely on SDR, pay attention to how many emails you’re sending out from a given address each day. We had to get somebody to clean it up for us. We’re no longer being marked as spam, but it definitely affected our open rates.

After all, if someone doesn’t see your email, they can’t open it up.

This post was adapted from Marketing School, a 10-minute daily podcast in which Neil Patel and Eric Siu teach you real-life marketing strategies and tactics from their own experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. 

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