How to Increase Email Open Rates with these 5 Awesome Tips | RA Marketing

On 12 May 2020 10:57 AM

Take a guess. What is the percentage of average promotional emails getting opened? Based on a report by GetResponse on email marketing for Malaysia, the average email open rate is 24.33%, average click-through rate is 3.21% and average unsubscribe rate is 0.14%.

Email marketing is a free marketing solution. But if you have not been tracking your open rate, and fine-tuned your email marketing strategy for the next email, you may be wasting your time creating and blasting emails with poor or no results.

So, how do you get your contacts to open your emails first? Improving email open rates is a world of art and science combined. There are specific technological and structural issues that you are able to tackle, but creativity comes into play too. Here are 5 awesome tips for you to explore:

1. Create Irresistible Subject Line

Do you know that 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone? At the same time, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. Your subject line is either your hook or crook. It should be specific, clear, short and appealing. Basically, your subject line have only 3 seconds or less to attract people to open your email.

In the following order of psychological principles: urgency, curiosity, greed, pain and humour, here are some examples of subject lines:                           

  • “Your Web Hosting goes bye-bye at midnight…”
  • “7 weird money habits making Millennials richer”
  • “50% off your favorite jacket”
  • “How to Survive Covid-19 for SMEs”
  • “Boom shakalak! Let’s get moving.”


You need to prevent your email from going into the spam folder. Email spam filters have become more sophisticated than before. Try to avoid using keywords which over usually found on SPAM emails like ‘clearance’, ‘earn $’, ‘save up to’, or ‘money back guarantee’. You can find an extensive list of SPAM-triggering words here.


Insert the important words or phrases into the beginning of your email subject line. Be unexpected, helpful, provocative or all three!  You either win or lose them here. Always highlight strong benefits and trigger curiosity in the opening message.


A report by Retention Science discovered that subject lines with 6 to 10 words deliver the highest open rate, making 8 words the perfect number for a subject line. Numerals stand out against letters in the lines of text, so make full use of them too.


Another vital fact to note. Marketers cannot deny the significance of mobile and tablet devices. Nowadays, mobile devices command 61.9% of all emails opened and read. For mobile phones, the screens are small, and the inboxes are crowded. The first 5 words might be all that your reader will see. So, exercise caution.


2. A/B Testing for The Winning Formula

With A/B testing, marketers can take the guesswork out of their email marketing campaigns. You can test ONE specific element on a small group e.g. 10% of your database - send email A and email B.  Monitor the result and then send the best performing email to the rest of your audience.

For example, with your crafty subject lines as a test element, test them out and pay special attention on the length. Next, evaluate if your tone resonates with your contacts. You do not want to sound either too authoritative or too casual.

“Pay 50% only for any item” vs.  “50% Discount Storewide”

Every single element that makes up an email can be tested. Experiment with A/B tests to find your winning formula. Apart from subject lines, you can also consider testing (one at a time) the tones, colors, images, CTA, or including personalization.

Personalization is one of the most important elements for better email open rate. Personalized emails get 26% more chances to be opened, so relevancy is a crucial factor.

“Get RM50 off for your first purchase!”   vs.  “Hey Jessica, grab your RM50 off for your first purchase!”


3. Email at the Right Time


You probably have asked yourself this question before: when is the best time to blast emails? Well, the best times to send emails is something that warrants you to test because it varies for every business. GetResponse researched 4 billion emails globally and found that: the highest click-to-open rates are Tuesday, 10 am or 8pm.

Keeping your audience in mind is a brilliant idea for figuring out the correct times to send your emails. Allowing email subscribers to choose how often they prefer to receive email - either weekly, fortnightly monthly, or every Monday will set the expectation right for your email subscribers.


Depending on your target audience, the nature of your product/service and the purchasing behavior for this product/service category, you should stick to the right timing and frequency to improve your email open rate. If your product is for B2B and your target email addresses are company emails, then your email should be sent during office hours e.g. before working hours or after lunch hour. If you are promoting a B2C product and your target email addresses are personal emails, then sending email after dinner time or over the weekends may be more ideal as that will trigger the email notification when people have time for internet surfing.

Test different timing to evaluate how that influences your email’s open rates. Remember to keep one group as a control group, responding to you at various sessions, so you can compare the difference in results with other test groups. This way, you will learn over time when your audience prefers to receive communication from you.


4. Use Human as the Sender

A research from Pinpointe marketing found that by using a specific personal name, rather than a general email address or company name can increase open rates by as much as 35%! Try sending your emails using a person’s name.

Sender: Alicia from RA

On the contrary, an email such as will usually be ignored or even be filtered out by email spam filtering for suspecting it is either malicious or spammy. To build and maintain your credibility and improve deliverability, use a person to send emails. This clearly reduces the chances of your message ending up in the junk folder.

5. Segment Your Email List and Content

According to research, segmented email campaigns get 14.32% more open rates and 760% increase in revenue compared to non-segmented campaigns. Why? People only open, read or take action on topic that interest them. Emails that are not relevant to them may be deleted, tagged as spam or worse, become the reason for unsubscription. That is why segmentation of email database is very important.

How do you segment your mailing list? You can divide people into groups based on their relationship with your business, purchase history, online research history, stage in buyers’ journey or sales funnel, or their preferences on products or services. After segmentation is done, you can create or curate content that is highly relevant for each group.

Here are some examples on how to segment your subscriber’s database and matching it with suitable content.


First time enquiry:

offer useful advice to help them research

Enquired but not purchased:

build relationship and trust

First time buyers:

send appreciation, offer membership sign-up

Existing customers, recently purchased

upsell or cross-sell based on recent purchase

Existing customers, purchased 1 year ago

attract them to return and buy again

“3 types of bicycles for different budget”
“The largest bicycle collection in town.”
“Sign up as member and get RM50 voucher”
“Just bought your new bicycle? How about this matching helmet?”
“How was the ride? It’s probably time to change the tyres now”

Plan your overall email content flow for each target groups will help to ensure a natural, timely and pleasant experience for your email subscribers or members. By aligning your content to audience’s psychological journey, you will find not only better email open rate but higher conversion rates.


Email marketing continues to be a channel for marketers to grow and convert leads, whether it is for B2B or B2C. Don’t do email marketing because it is free, do it because you want to convert. That means you need to really spend time improving your email open rates continuously. By following the best practices and tips above, you should be able to champion on what works or detour on what is not.

Put these tips to work today! Or talk to us if you need professional email marketing consultation.