6 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rates Are Declining

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email open rates

You send marketing emails to subscribers, and you want to ramp up your email open rates. It just makes sense for your business.

Even if you have a healthy email click through rates for your outgoing emails, what are some email marketing strategies and tactics to improve your email open rates? Sometimes, switching up your email marketing pattern can boost your email open rates.

Take a look at a few ideas, straight from the email marketing experts, Markitors:

Why Your Email Open Rates Are Fizzling

email open rates

Perform A/B tests to boost email open rates

Perhaps the simplest way to quickly improve your email open rates is by A/B testing subject lines, “from” names and delivery times of your emails. Are your subscribers more inclined to open your email if it is sent from “Brett at Markitors” or just “Markitors”? A/B testing can help answer that question, and it will help optimize your email marketing over time.

Mailchimp, for instance, gives users the option to perform A/B testing based on subject lines, delivery times and “from” names. Mailchimp will analyze the data from an initial send to a percentage of your subscribers, and then will deliver the “winning” email to the rest of your subscribers based on the highest email open rates or click through rates. There’s no easier way to improve your email open rates than with an A/B test. (For more MailChimp tricks and tips, click here.)

email open rates

Be strategic
 with your email subject line

Email subject lines influence email open rates. That’s a given. So it boils down to how effectively you craft your subject line. (Then, you can see improvements in your email click-through rates as well.)

Keep it short and sweet, for starters. Your subscribers don’t want to have to click the email to see the full subject line, so don’t make it lengthy.

Often, a subscriber knows your brand and what to expect when it comes to your content. An email subject line can influence a subscriber to click through your email without even reading your content. Because that trust already exists, subscribers may just open your email and click on the first link they see because of the subject line.

Research your Google Analytics account and prior email campaigns to help generate email subject lines that appeal to your subscribers. Not only will a quick email audit help you best target your content, but it will also result in those email open rates you long to see.

email open rates

Include a call to action

Sure—you might nail the subject line, the A/B test and the overall design of your email newsletter. But you need a solid call to action to ramp up your email open rates. Oftentimes, the subject line itself is a powerful call to action. 

Within the email, the call to action should recap the content of the email, and not introduce anything new.

Example: Let’s say we’ve just told you all about how our company is running a special promotion for SEO audits. Our call to action: Request your free SEO audit today.

You get the benefit of a build-up with a solid call to action, and the end result is people clicking your email content.

email open rates

Give something away for free

This is another excellent branch of the “call to action” bit above. Giving away something for free is a great way to measure subscriber interest and collect more data about what to send segments of subscribers moving forward.

Think about what you can offer that would complement your business. Is it a white paper on pay per click advertising management? An offer to install a WordPress blog with any website design project?

Get creative in offering value to your email subscribers. Some of our clients have also boosted their social media following thanks to email giveaway campaigns. (e.g., In order to enter the giveaway, you must 1. Follow us on Twitter. 2. Follow [this link] and input your information… etc.)

email open rates

Embrace email list segmentation

If you continuously send the same emails to the same people, your email open rates will probably sink.

In MailChimp, for example, it’s easy to design segments of your list.

Here’s how it essentially works:

“I’ll send THIS email to THESE people, who haven’t opened my most recent email.” 

“Send THIS email to THIS group, which includes subscribers who opened the email I sent two weeks ago but not the one I sent last week.”

“Send THIS email to THIS segment of subscribers, who are returning customers. Then, send THIS one to brand-new customers.”

Then, you can better customize your list and figure out what each segment would like to open. For more help curating your email list and implementing successful email marketing strategies, contact Markitors today. We’re listed as experts on the MailChimp directory—so if you need help boosting email open rates, your first three months with Markitors will be FREE.

email open rates

Try sending plain text newsletters

Companies today often spend more time on the design of the email than the content itself. Guilty of this? Try sending out a long-form, plain text email with a few “call to action” links. (These might include “Read More,” “Learn More,” and so on.)

It might take you by surprise to learn how many people will read your entire email and then take action based on what information they have just consumed. Instead of designing an aesthetically pleasing visual, try to provide context and incentives for the reader to click on your content. (This is also a top tip for boosting email click through rates.)

… Or try adding more pictures & less text

On the other hand, if you send out plain text emails and are not seeing the email open rates you hoped for, try including a few more pictures or visuals in your email newsletter that complement your content. Sometimes, too many words can muddle everything for your subscribers. However, an image can convey your message much more clearly. Test out the same email to different segments of subscribers and see which email performed best.

The bottom line: Email open rates might improve if you try to switch it up.

Perhaps your subscribers are too accustomed to the same email format week after week. Some of our clients have seen success from using plain text to type up a newsletter, with a more personalized touch. (For instance, you might try A/B testing a plain text email against a picture-rich email in MailChimp to see which performs best among your list. Or, you might try using the personalization merge tag *|FNAME|* that automatically inserts a subscriber’s first name at the top of the email.)


What tips do you have to improve your email open rates? We’d like to know! Share your insights with us on TwitterFacebookInstagramGoogle+ and via email.

Markitors is a digital marketing company that moves small businesses forward online. We offer full service digital marketing services including SEOemail marketingsocial media marketingpay per click management, and website development.

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