How To Get 50%+ Open Rates [With Proof]

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Before jumping into some of the techniques I use to get consistent 50%+ Open Rates, a few quick points:


The best way to GET and KEEP consistently high Open Rates is by having a great reputation with your list i.e. it's your name (the Sender's Name) that is probably the biggest factor in getting your emails opened, not deceptive trickery with Subject Lines.

Trying to trick or deceive your email subscribers may work once or twice but is toxic to the health of your relationship with your list.

And relationship-BUILDING is one of the main objectives of email marketing.


There are many different philosophies in email marketing and online business generally and this post just covers what works for me.


While a high Open Rate is very important, if the click-Through Rate (CTR) on the main link in your email message sucks, then a high Open Rate is pointless (more on that below when I get to split-testing).

In short, look closely at your Open Rate + CTR + Landing Page Metrics to assess what's working and what isn't (obviously your traffic sources need to be monitored too!).

One of the great aspects of email marketing is that you will usually see your results (good or bad) within 24 hours and can then act on that information.

Think of your email marketing action as a live 24/7 test lab where you can constantly test and track new ideas or angles.


Open Rates across companies, email marketers and industries can vary widely but Mailchimp's research suggests a 20-something % average across its users.

Ryan Deiss reportedly works on under 10% but he's working with massive lists and Open Rates do go down as list sizes increase.

I've had by far the best success with highly targeted lists of under 100 people selling higher ticket recurring services (so forget all about list size as everything - you want to build 'repeat buyer' lists of any size).


People online are more distracted than they have ever been - this study published on suggests that around half of new visitors to a new webpage spend less than 15 seconds there.

Hence, email marketing and retargeting is essential to reach them again, at least a percentage of them.

So not only do your landing pages need to undergo serious testing before you invest time or money in driving serious traffic, but that kind of thinking needs to be applied to your email marketing.

Online, everyone is distracted, information-overloaded and restless to keep moving on.

So back to the specific approaches you can use to achieve 50% Open Rates, especially in combination with each other.

In the below examples, I'm showing examples mainly from AWeber, which is far from perfect, but I haven't quite yet reached the point of giving up completely on them as my main email management service (it's probably coming soon though):

Technique #1:

Whenever I'm sending an important one-off broadcast email OR looking to add a message to an autoresponder followup sequence, I will use a smaller sub-list from the same website in the same niche to split-test 4 (the maximum allowed in AWeber) different subject lines.

Typically this sub-list will have 500-1000 subscribers and NOT be the main list.

I'll get to why I use sub-lists in a minute.

Look at the difference here in the results from different sub-list split-tests - especially in slightly lower Open Rates but higher CTR (all from SEO/IM niche lists here):

Example Group 1:

Example Group 2:

Example Group 3:

Example Group 4:

Example Group 5:

Even though the changes in the Subject Line are pretty small in some cases, the differences in Open Rates can sometimes be dramatic.

Remember also that each group of 4 split-tested emails above had exactly the same email message once opened up.

Split testing your actual email message once you have found a clear Subject Line winner is the next step to push up CTR (I'll get to pushing up CTR in a future post here).

Typically though, those fairly healthy Open Rate numbers that you see above in the sub-list split test are NOT replicated when you run that out to a bigger list.

Interesting too - to me at least - is the version that I assumed would be the strongest is usually not necessarily the winner, hence the value of testing (not exactly groundbreaking is it!).

Why Use A Small Sub-List Terry?

The reason I use a small sub-list for split testing is because of AWeber's current limitations.

For example, let's say I have a main list of 20,000 email subscribers in a particular niche.

With AWeber's current constraints, I cannot create a 1,000 subscriber subset of that main list, split-test 4 different Subject Lines on that subset of 1,000 and then email the winning version to the remaining 19,000 without subscribers from my test subset group getting emailed again with basically the same message.

Personally, I find it incredible that AWeber doesn't offer that in 2015 but in my view, AWeber needs to get serious about new feature development.

That's why on blogs I own, there will normally be several different optin offers that, more or less, appeal to the same audience. Each optin offer will then connect to DIFFERENT AWeber lists so that I have the sub-list split testing option.

Yes it is a bit more work to create more lists and copy autoresponders from one list to another (that's actually very fast in AWeber using the 'Campaign Sharing' function) but the testing benefits you can see from the above results.

And, if I'm sending out a one-off broadcast email and see a big spike of popularity on one particular test version, I'll add it into an autoresponder sequence and see if it continues to perform well there.

You can also get good ideas for Subject Lines in your niche from which measures virally-popular content.

Technique #2:

This is the big one and hardly any email marketers that I track (that's a lot of them) do this or do it very much.

Again, I don't do this on every single email and this should be an feature on AWeber but on important emails I do which is to RE-email the same message to people who didn't open that message the first time around, 24 hours after the first was sent.

I then repeat it again on the remainder of the list who didn't open the message on the first OR second re-emailing.

Each time, this pushes up your Open Rates because:

[a] Everyone is busy and your non-opening subscribers may just have missed your email the first time around (everyone's inbox is crowded);

[b] Your Subject Line didn't grab them the first time around so choose a different one that still performed well from your sub-list test and use that instead (always be compiling Subject Lines that have done well for future re-use);

[c] If you don't, your Open Rate cannot go up i.e. you have nothing to lose.

How Do you Do That?

Here we are working with 'Segments' (meaning smaller groups of email subscribers within your list/s) in AWeber. If you already know how to do this, skip ahead to the next technique.

These screenshots are from a demo teaching AWeber account of mine:

1. Choose the correct List in AWeber and click on 'Manage Subscribers':

2. From the dropdown menu, choose 'Message not opened':

3. Next choose between Broadcast messages (one-offs) and Followups (automated sequenced messages), then click on the message where you want to RE-email those list subscribers who did not open that particular message + click on Search:

4. From the listed subscribers (doesn't matter how many are there - these are screenshots from a demo teaching account), give this group (AWeber calls them 'Segments') a unique name and click on Save:

You can now send an email to that group and then track who fails to open that 2nd message and email them by repeating the above process but with the 2nd email 'unopeners'.

Technique #3:

Pay attention to the TIME OF DAY that your emails are received by your subscribers.

Overwhelmingly, I see 6am-9am (Monday-Friday) as the best times/days for your email to land in your subscriber's inbox in terms of Open Rates BUT always test for yourself.

9am-midday does OK too but not as consistently well as the 6am-9am slot.

Obviously you need to test what works best for your list and mix it up occasionally.

Setting delivery times in AWeber for Broadcast emails requires the 'Scheduling' function:

whereas setting delivery times for Followup automated messages in AWeber means using the 'Send Window' feature:

These appear during the message creation process AFTER you have saved your message and are going through the Next pages afterwards in the process:

Technique #4:

Sadly, this doesn't work with AWeber but is fine with most of the other big email services like Mailchimp, GetResponse etc.

If you are using Leadpages (recommended) in your email marketing, there is an option - IF a visitor to your site is logged in to Facebook while visiting your optin page - to have your Leadpages optin form automatically populate the form with that person's Facebook email address e.g.

Inside your individual Leadpages or Leadboxes, go to 'Integration Settings', enable 'Use Facebook Integration', click on OK and Save:

Most of us have multiple email addresses now so getting someone's Facebook email address rather than another one that they may use for getting free lead magnets can push up your Open Rate as it's more likely to be seen in that inbox where their Facebook notification emails arrive.

On the negative side, some visitors won't feel comfortable with that and will type in another email address they use but on the whole, most visitors won't mind.

BUT, it doesn't (currently) work with AWeber or mobile devices.

Bonus Technique:

This may not work in your niche or with your list - test everything out! - but I have seen good Open Rate spikes when using city-based geotargeting emails based on the IP address of the subscriber - you can choose city, state or country but usually the city is the one to go for.

Obviously you need to write your email message in such a way as to make it relevant to all your subscribers but it is doable and can work well e.g.

I have offices in Sofia and London, hence the mismatch here between address and city targeted in the Subject Line and email but you get the idea.

This feature works in BOTH Subject Lines and email messages and only requires you to add in {!geog_city} where you want their city name to appear:

While these techniques (mainly) help me get 50%+ Open Rates, the real key is to actually APPLY them - and all your marketing action - in a CONSISTENT, FOCUSED and DISCIPLINED way.

We IMers do seem to suck at that but the rewards of that consistent action with email marketing will far far outperform the ROI of any other approach in online business, in my experience.
#50% #open #proof #rates
  • Profile picture of the author James Baker
    Thanks Terry! This was a great valuable post and very helpful techniques. This information can have a huge impact on your campaigns if followed and applied.

    will be using a couple for sure!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kelvin Chan
    Terry, tks for sharing these with us

    Do you collect names for all your lists? If so, what have you found to be the effect in conversions having & not having the name field in there?

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    • Profile picture of the author Terry Kyle
      Originally Posted by Kelvin Chan View Post

      Terry, tks for sharing these with us

      Do you collect names for all your lists? If so, what have you found to be the effect in conversions having & not having the name field in there?
      Hi Kelvin,

      On the whole, I normally do collect names and I know that's a contentious issue among email marketers.

      Outside of the more saturated (or should that be abused?!) niches like IM, personalization is generally positive in my experience and a good option to have that's 'testable' at any time - as shown above.

      Of great value also is a healthy obsession with small-scale testing BEFORE emailing to a big list and then RE-emailing those who didn't open AFTER the first big emailing.
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  • Profile picture of the author socoman
    wow great techniq Terry i used all the time to see my email that didnt succeed so ill know why the most effective way is to make your email start with mistery so pple would like to know what next and then they will click thats what i do and has a great results
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  • Profile picture of the author Javisito
    Interesting techniques, thanks a lot
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  • Profile picture of the author Manuelcrc
    Thanks a lot for this...This is well laid-out and incredibly helpful.


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    • These techniques are awesome! Thanks for sharing

      I particularly love the technique where you do small-scale testing to find out what subject lines work best for subscribers. Seeing what works for a small group before using it for a larger one is a simple but brilliant idea.

      web design & development, SEO, client support, online marketing
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  • Profile picture of the author joeho
    great post Terry! thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author AllanWard
    Thanks Terry for some great ideas. I hadn't thought about the problem with people on the initial test email receiving it again when you send the email to your entire list. It would be good if Aweber fixed this.

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  • Profile picture of the author osensnolf
    Hey Terry.

    This is great stuff. Thank you for putting it together.

    When I see claims like "50% open rate", my first question is "how many are you sending to?" As expected, your list is very small. (Not undermining what you are doing.)

    Can you show proof where you do this with list of 1k, 10k, 40k+?

    Imagine if we email markers could get 100% open. Ahhh.....
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  • Profile picture of the author Terry Kyle
    As stated above O, the small 'sub-lists' are to find the best Subject Lines (hence the small list sizes shown) BEFORE mass mailing.

    When you roll that winner out to larger lists, the Open Rates - of the very first sending - will come down (it's the nature of larger lists) and that's why RE-emailing again to those who didn't open on the first sending is crucial and will push you back towards or over 50% Open Rates though AWeber has no way of showing how an overall re-emailing campaign performs statistically.

    You have look at the stats on each re-emailing separately and add up the sums.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    Good stuff Terry. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. Awesome.
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  • Profile picture of the author DrBloggood
    Awesome stuff, Terry, thanks! I also checked out your website, seems very interesting and useful.

    What would you say is more important, a high open rate or a high CTR? Do you prefer a message with a higher open rate and lower CTR or a message with a lower open rate and a higher CTR?

    I'm talking about an email that doesn't sell anything, just gives value, etc... obviously you would want them to click on the link, but that doesn't even mean they will keep the link open for five seconds. So maybe it would be more important to at least engage them with an email and stay fresh on their minds.
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    • Profile picture of the author osensnolf
      If you have a higher open rate, all of your other rates (total count) will be higher as your pool of people that will click, subscribe, and buy is higher.

      For me, the inbox/open rate is the most important. You can write better text but there are limitations to what you can do to improve the open rate. Even transactional email such as passwords and receipts do not have a 100% open rate.
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    • Profile picture of the author Terry Kyle
      Originally Posted by DrBloggood View Post

      Awesome stuff, Terry, thanks! I also checked out your website, seems very interesting and useful.

      What would you say is more important, a high open rate or a high CTR? Do you prefer a message with a higher open rate and lower CTR or a message with a lower open rate and a higher CTR?

      I'm talking about an email that doesn't sell anything, just gives value, etc... obviously you would want them to click on the link, but that doesn't even mean they will keep the link open for five seconds. So maybe it would be more important to at least engage them with an email and stay fresh on their minds.
      Hi Dr.

      Getting the clickthrough is everything IF you're using a short email to send your reader somewhere (to a blog post, offer etc).

      Marketers like Eben Pagan use VERY long, text-based emails in his business so for him, CTR may be less of an issue because he's doing the audience engagement within the email.

      In the sub-list split testing I discussed above, if I see that one of the test set has a slightly lower Open Rate but much higher CTR, I will use that as the one for the big list mailing.

      What you also see from testing is that Subject Lines definitely shape the reader's expectations and response in terms of CTR.

      If it didn't, you'd see roughly the same CTR from the same text message with different Subject Lines.

      Interesting huh?
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  • Profile picture of the author ExpatMarketeer
    Thanks Terry that was a great read, I've tried a few of these tips and I have already had an increase in open rates in the campaigns I tested.

    I'm a little scared to re email the non openers but I will give it a go after all a non opener has never unsubscribed from an email.
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  • Wow, great article. Thanks for the share.

    What's the total size of your list?
    How do your email autoresponders work?

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  • Profile picture of the author KY
    Thanks Terry for the article sharing! I have been struggling on how to improve my open rate and CTR for quite some times. Your words have given me ideas on hows does it works.
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  • Profile picture of the author joekyut
    Awesome and very informative post. Way to go! Bro
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  • Profile picture of the author magicmoola
    This is a great post fill with lots of information, like having a FREE ebook.

    Thanks for sharing.
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    • Profile picture of the author marco005
      Kerry, great value post!

      also get always best open rates is to split the main list into smaller groups around 150 subs and then send newsletter to them?

      Also by a list with 5000 subs split them into 30-35 small groups lists- and then send them newsletter?

      Does any from the Autoresponder Services on the market allowed this?

      I see most Autoresponder don't like it, when you links (affiliate links - link to an offer) in their emails, so that the email you send land in the email Trashbox as Spam?

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