How to improve your email open rates

If you’re like most companies, your email list is one of the most crucial keys to the success of your business. Maintaining and providing value to your contacts is how you build trust and makes sales. It’s essential to only send your contacts high quality, value-packed emails that address their specific pain points and needs. This is the first step to improving your email deliverability and open rates.

In this post I’ll review email deliverability and how to avoid the spam filter, increasing your email open rates.

Sender Reputation

What many business owners don’t realize is that their email address has a “reputation” that is impacted by many different factors.

Some factors that impact your email reputation include:

  • how many emails you send
  • how many are opened
  • if you’re sending many emails to new addresses
  • being marked my recipients as spam
  • how many of your emails bounce

So how do you avoid having a bad reputation?

1. Don’t purchase email lists

If you’re frequently buying new contacts and sending them email campaigns your email reputation will be negatively impacted. Email servers will see you are sending a large number of emails that aren’t being returned. This is a sign of spam.

2. Keep your email list clean

Another way to hurt your email reputation is to send emails that hard bounce. There are two kinds of bounces:

  • Soft Bounce: These usually happen if the recipient’s inbox is full and should not negatively impact your reputation.
  • Hard Bounce: These happen when you send an email to an address that doesn’t exist.

To avoid hard bounces, make sure to remove emails that bounce regularly. These could be due to someone signing up with a fake email address or when an email is no longer active.

3. Don’t Spam

There are many ways you could be spamming your clients. Common forms of spam include:

  • Sending your contacts a large number of valueless emails, resulting in them marking your emails as spam or unsubscribing. Purchased lists often result in spam complaints.
  • Buying purchased lists and accidentally sending to a “spam trap”. A spam trap is a fake email used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to catch spammers purchasing or harvesting emails.

Basically to hold a good email reputation don’t purchase lists and only send high quality content on a consistent basis.

Email Authentication

Email authentication is when email servers perform an ID check on your email address when receiving a new email. It checks your IP address and if it has permission to send emails from the domain your using.

If using an email service provider to send out email campaigns (ex. MailChimp, Moonsend, Vero) you’ll need to take extra steps to make sure your email will be authenticated.

  1. Verify your sender IP with the SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

Add the SPF with your email service to your website’s DNS (Domain Name System). This will show email servers that you have permission to use your domain.

2. Verify your ownership over an email with DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

Every email you send has an electronic signature that can be viewed by the DKIM. Verifying ownership will add another layer of authentication to your email address.

To summarize email authentication, make sure you completely follow through with the email set up process. This will ensure your emails are authenticated and make it to your contacts’ inbox.

Learn more about email authentication.


Before pressing send on an email, think to yourself:

  1. How does this email provide value to my contact?
  2. Did my contact ask me for this information?

Your contact likely signed up for your email campaign/newsletter to learn more about your product/service and how it can help them meet their goals. Make sure your emails are always action-oriented and provide value to your contacts.

Keeping a consistent brand/style to your emails will help your audience recognize your content in their inbox.

1. Double Opt-ins

Double opt-in emails are emails that are sent to contacts after they sign up for a campaign to confirm permission to continue emailing the address. This will help you confirm your mailing list, reducing your chances of being marked as spam.

2. Word Choice

Make sure your email doesn’t look spamy. Using lots of buzzwords like “free”, “win”, and “offer” can cause your email to be caught in a spam trap. See a full list of spamy words.

3. Be Mobile-friendly

Realistically most of your customers will try accessing your site by their phone. You must have a user-friendly mobile version of your website to increase your email’s click-through rate.

4. Make it easy to unsubscribe

You don’t want to email anyone who doesn’t want to be receiving your emails. Making the unsubscribe button easy to access will keep your mailing list tight and increase your email deliverability.

Other Resources:

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