Increase Email Open Rates by 3x Higher Than Average

You can’t just build a responsive list and magically increase email open rates. People think that when they signup top somewhere like Aweber, all the beautiful automation and tools they have will build you a fantastic list. This is true but there is a lot more to it.

You build the list and then you build the response.

The truth is that your email list doesn’t come with a high email open rates right off the bat.  You have to earn it with your subscribers and increase email open rates by impressing and giving.  Lots of marketers are doing it all wrong.

Has this happened to you?

You subscribe to a list to get a free report.  You immediately get an email like this:


I wasn’t going to tell anyone about this, but I’ve been making LOADS of cash with this new product.  The creator is a great guy and allowed me to share his secret money-making machine with you and bla bla bla

Just click here for your fortunes…


Yadda Yadda”

I can’t unsubscribe fast enough!

Just because someone is on your list doesn’t mean they already trust you and like your emails.  Even if they’re already a fan of yours, they’ll want to see what kind of emails you send and get used to it first.

Only after this can you enjoy high open rates and click-throughs on your profitable emails.

How to Increase Email Open Rates

The average email open rates for the marketing industry is 18.79% and most categories average around 20%. These stats come from both Mailchimp and Aweber, the two world leaders in email management.

These are the techniques I use to increase email open rates and overall response.

Provide Value Continuously

The first thing you want to do in your email sequence is provide value to your subscribers.  Give them something free, tell them something new.

The next thing you do is provide value to your subscribers.  Give them something free, tell them something new.

Deja Vue?

Some email lists I get on come so close.  They are good at first, but then they become non-stop sales pitches.  After the initial value, I am more inclined to stick around after a couple sales pitches and I might buy one of the products.  However, I’m not going to stay on a list that becomes entirely salesy after the original value provided. This is not way to increase email open rates!

They key is to continuously provide value to your subscribers.

Don’t contact subscribers too frequently

I know my subscribers like being on my list.  Hardly anyone ever unsubscribes.  However, this doesn’t mean I’m their favorite person in the world and they want to hear from me every day.

I’m more passive than most, but I only send out my follow-ups once a week.  That is much more infrequent than the average, but then again, my response rate is also much higher.  Coincidence?

Another reason for spreading out your follow-ups is that you draw out your content.  You stay in contact with them for longer with less content.  Time builds trust.

Extra Tip: Take a while to create a logical and organized series of follow-ups.  If you write them all ahead of time, you can have months of consistent content and contact with your subscribers with no additional work.

Don’t treat them like virtual credit cards

Send emails without direct commercial intent.

If your subscribers think they are only on your list to be profitable, they’re gone.  No one likes being sold to.

Contrarily, if you keep sending them helpful tips and links to cool things, they’ll be more likely to check out your money-making emails.

Make it Feel Exclusive

Make them feel like they’d be missing out if they unsubscribed.

I don’t share the same links and info on my site that I do on my list.  I also like to share some opportunities exclusively with my followers.  For example, review copies my upcoming ebook will be shared with my subscribers only for free.

Exclusive opportunities make your subscribers feel they are getting greater value from being on your list.

Write Compelling Subject Lines

I’m no expert copywriter, so take it from someone who is.  You can supplement the success you have with your list by implementing good subject line practices.

You can’t get away with just good subject lines.  You need great content too or your readers will eventually catch on to your tactics.  This will result in lower open rates over time.

Regardless, your subject lines should be carefully crafted and tested over time to increase email open rates and response.

Start it with a BANG! Increase Email Open Rates

Make your first characters in your emails compelling. Aweber or Mailchimp will let you set up an auto responder series.

Most email services show the first few characters of an email.  For example, Gmail shows the first 80 characters of the email including the subject line.  Most people like to take a glance at the contents before they click, so use this to your advantage.

Your List = Base of Operations

Your list is the first place to go when you have big news to share.  If you’re releasing a new product or having something special to share, you want them to know.

Your list allows you to keep reoccurring traffic to your site that you can send where you want.  It allows you to build trust and stay in contact with your readers.  Put simply…

A list is an asset.

Google can take away your rankings, but no one can touch your list.  Treat it like the precious asset it is.  Make it more valuable by learning to increase email open rates and response rates:

  • Continually provide value
  • Don’t send emails too frequently
  • Treat your subscribers like real people
  • Make it exclusive
  • Write killer subject lines

Marketers use their lists in many different ways.  Regardless of why you are building a list or what you intend to use it for, these techniques will help you increase email open rates on all levels.

Would you like to be on YOUR email list?  Are you struggling to Increase Email Open Rates?


  1. Alex says

    This post is an important point for me because i have a email open rate of around 30% in one of my online ads website,seems to be difficult to convince my newsletter subscribers to read the e-mails.
    Alex recently posted..Lista de Preturi

  2. Steve says


    First of all, thanks for giving a link to one of my articles here. It is always appreciated.

    Making most of my money through email marketing, I have to say i agree with you on your ways to get more opens.

    Most people fail at email marketing, because they do what everyone else does… which is the stuff that makes people hate email marketers.. Sell sell sell.

    It is important (IMO) to really provide more than just sales pitches. When you sent consistent messages designed to inform, with only light (or no) sales aspect. then just mix in the occasional sales pitch, it is far more likely that people stay subscribed and actually come to look forward to your emails.

    Anyhow, you make some great points here and all things that will really work well to make more engaging email marketing.
    Steve recently posted..How Often Should You Send Email to an Affiliate List?

  3. says

    So true about “The first characters”, it is like a good title for an article. If it sounds interesting or will benefit the reader, they will feel compelled to investigate. I am so happy I found this post, this helps me reinforce my efforts with my customers. Value….That is the key, along with good old fashion honesty will go along way. Thank you Ben for your tips!
    Bryan Ring recently posted..Guest Posting On Blog Platforms Relating To Your Niche

  4. says

    Sometimes I wonder. Although making a big list can definitely make you a lot of money, but is it worth the trouble of keeping it and maintaining it?
    I personally prefer using adsense or affiliate marketing that doesn’t require me making a list.

  5. Gregory says

    Very interesting stuff… it’s actually a hugely overlooked problem with mass email/newsletter campaigns; I’ve been involved in setting up email campaigns for various companies over the years and its almost shocking what percentage of “opens” is considered “good”!
    Gregory recently posted..Cyberattacks on the Rise

  6. Mary says

    Don’t contact subscribers too frequently – I can truly relate on this point. Way back months ago, I subscribed to somebody whom I’ve considered to be a great help to me. Unfortunately, I was totally wrong with my thoughts. I ended up getting lots of emails within a day! LOL So I ended up unsubscribing to his email list. As for some, I included them to my spam folder filter to avoid going to my inbox.
    Mary recently posted..How To Slow Down Wrinkles And Keep Your Skin Younger

  7. Richard says

    I try very hard not to spam my email list. Instead, I try to use it to inform my readers of some of my latest posts. On occasion, I will send them a link to a free e-book or something else as a thank you for subscribing. That way, I keep them happy and hopefully feeling like my list is a good value.
    Richard recently posted..How to Promote Your Affiliate Products

    • Ben says

      Sounds like you’re offering great value to your readers! You just gave me an idea – have you considered linking to your RSS feed in your email signature? I just updated my sig with this with the intention that more people on my list will also subscribe to my RSS feed which I’ve just begun to promote.
      Ben recently posted..Top 44 Niche Social News & Bookmarking Sites List

      • Richard says

        I hadn’t given a lot of thought to linking my RSS feed to may email signature. In my case, I tend to update my newsletter subscribers with my recent popular posts. While I don’t send out a newsletter for every single post I publish, it might still be redundant. I’ll have to give it some thought.
        Richard recently posted..How to Promote Your Affiliate Products

  8. Heather says

    Thanks for sharing your helpful information. Keeping an active and interested Email list is hard work, but definitely worth the effort, all things considered. Have you found any certain day of the week to have better open rates than others?

  9. Jym says

    Cool tips indeed Ben. I’m relative a novice in this area, but interested to note that the common wisdom of ‘not emailing your list too often’ has certain exceptions. I’m digging through some material from a brilliant copy guy at the moment who pushes and pushes his students to email daily.

    His angle is all about really building a relationship with your list the right way so that they actually look forward to opening you mail and having a ‘quick fix’ of your thoughts each day.

    Clearly it’s not a good strategy for most though. Depends upon niche and style I guess… Other than that I’m behind you all the way – consistent value, killer headlines and intros, and (of course!) make ’em feel special.

    Nice work mate
    Jym recently posted..Marketing Your Blog: How to Make Your Readers Need You

  10. Samuel says

    Hey Ben !
    I really admire and appreciate your firm and well fabricated tips on how to increase Email open rates effectively,I am struggling with email open rates dear and i have learned a lot from your this post.The two points which was really worth for me are “Don’t contact subscribers too frequently” and “Your List = Base of Operations”. Thank you a lot for sharing such a great,valuable,informative and considerable content with us.

    Good Luck and God Bless!!

    With Regards!
    Samuel Joshua.
    Samuel recently posted..Celtic Stained Glass Patterns-Part 3

  11. Bob says

    Thanks for sharing that. I think it’s funny, becase oftentimes when you read this kind of thing you expect some new, sneaky, tricky headline, but the very first thing you mentioned was consistently providing value. And I think you’re right. I am on some lists of people who have really bad, bad headlines (It’s eassentially: “Newslettername #47, October 2011″), but because they’ve delivered so much value consistently, I always open them :-)
    Bob recently posted..Establishing Rapport

  12. Annie says

    Starting with a bang is a particularly clever trick–I hadn’t thought of that but it makes perfect sense, even regardless of the email preview. Writers are always taught to start with a bang to hook the reader, so of course that should apply to email copy as well.

    • says

      With regards to setting up automated responses over time, would you agree it would be better to have the copy pre written but to broadcast the campaign manually and try to add something that is current at the time of sending – either trending or news worthy just to add that personal touch. I believe the emails should be solely used as a lead nurturing excercise whereby you are educating and engaging your customer and demonstrating your the authority in your niche.

  13. Toby says

    I have never done email marketing but I see that your Open Rates are awesome.. I think I will try it out :) Thanks for inspiring!

  14. Mel says

    This is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing all of the information, Ben. I am just beginning to do more with lists this will help me better evaluate my email content.

  15. Peter Lawlor says

    Finally a decent post on email opt in rates. I think the fequency you send emails will depend on the niche. I have a list who told me that once a week was too much. Therefore, a went to every 2 weeks and unsubscribes lowered a great deal.

    I seldom ask for the sale, and when I do it’s after giving a ton of info.
    Peter Lawlor recently posted..WordPress Product Review Themes: Pros & Cons

  16. Murray Lunn says

    As a shocker, I’ve actually just recently deleted an email list of about 3,000 people because I wasn’t able to keep up with everything because I’m far too busy with going back to college now; what was surprising is that after I ended the newsletter, I had a lot of people contact me to tell me how much they appreciated the information which I never heard until that point. Long story short, I got people on board with Facebook and it pruned a lot of the people that weren’t responding – next time I kick up the list, I know what to avoid, for sure.
    Murray Lunn recently posted..DPD: The Best WordPress Shopping Cart for Bloggers

    • Ben says

      Hey Murray, I had a really similar experience. I recently discontinued an SEO service because I was heading back to school, and there were more people that were unhappy to see me go than I expected.

      Pruning your list – there’s an idea that a lot of aggressive email marketers wouldn’t understand. I bet your conversions % will be higher and your # of responses very similar.
      Ben recently posted..Top 44 Niche Social News & Bookmarking Sites List

  17. Dave says

    I found that you have to balance open rates with the total value you are trying to drive from the email. For example, you may be able to send emails more frequently, get lower open rates, but still drive more traffic to your sites. All of your rules still apply for building a good email program, but sometimes open rates are not the right metric to concentrate on.


  18. jan says

    Some really great advice Ben – would you like to be on your own list and don’t treat them like virtual, credit cards are my two favourites. I think for newbies, one of the things we fear is missing out on “the next best thing” and it takes a while to realise that often by following too many people you dilute your effectiveness by the time you read all of the emails and watch all of the videos, you hardly have enough time to work on your own sites. I now follow five people only (including yourself and Mitz). When I was starting I joined up to many IM’s emailing lists and got sick of being bombarded by emails selling stuff from their new BFs and often the email would start with, “I don’t usually do this but …..” Now I am really happy with the people that I follow, as they add value to my life, I open all of their emails and enjoy the following community comments!
    jan recently posted..Kindle Fire, the newest color Kindle reader

  19. Ted says

    Hey Ben.

    You have got a lot of nice sounding advice here. But, I am still not at a happy place with email marketing. My issue with it is the way that other (successful) internet marketers use it on me. I guess these guys know what they are doing because they appear more successful than me (although I wonder about that sometimes.) The thing is that very (very) few of these people actually have my respect. I will subscribe to a list because at one point in time they got my attention with something which required some opt-in. But over the course of months or years I get bombarded with emails that are using obvious hyped up marketing. That kills my trust in them completely. So I begin ignoring them.

    Just recently, I unsubscribed from a whole bunch because I am just sick and tired of hitting delete on the email. It has been a really long time since anyone has has used email to really move me to make a purchase or introduced me to something I really end up liking. Maybe I am just not in the target audience for those people anymore. Maybe I am just sick of email marketing being used on me. I’m not sure. Maybe its both.

    Had they waited and only sent one email every couple months or every three months, maybe I would still be on those lists. Right now I am in purge mode though. I think people should ask for your preferences on those opt-in lists.
    Ted recently posted..Google Algorithm Is My Rubiks Cube

    • mitz says

      I guess a lot of people have been taken advantage of… But Ben has some valid points here. He is basically saying how to treat your list the right way. I am trying to do this list marketing the right way and people are genuinely on my list waiting for a new email.
      After reading this though….I need to go and edit some emails and follow a few of Bens steps. :)

    • Ben says

      Hi Ted, I think your complaints are all spot on. It’s aggressive email marketing like that which gives email marketing a bad name. The way I see it, if I have your email address it’s sort of like you’re inviting me into your home – it’s your own personal virtual real estate. I better not violate that trust or over-stay my welcome by showing up too much.

      You can use your own negative experiences for direction in crafting your own list and follow up strategies.

      P.S. Respect is another factor that I forgot to mention, thanks for bringing that up.
      Ben recently posted..Top 44 Niche Social News & Bookmarking Sites List

  20. Albert says

    I agree with you regarding the fact of sending only one email a week.
    And secondly provide quality content is a must!
    Build an email list is just another way to create long lasting relationship with your readers.
    Yes,you can make money from they,but you don’t have to state cleary in front of them.
    If you provide useful tips and quality content I believe that your readers will never realize that they’re spending money.
    Or rather, I think their first thought goes to the skills they have acquired, and not the money spent to get them
    Albert recently posted..Social Networking Websites – Business Tips

  21. Paul G says

    Hi Ben, great post. I have found that sending out a newsletter to previous customers has a lower open rate and lower conversion rate than sending to a list of people who have signed up to receive an advice style newsletter. This type of list also has a longer lifespan for a customer.

    I think what I am getting at is that for a list to be sustainable, I am in complete agreement with you – it must be more information based than commerce based.

    I think that when a customer signs up for an exclusive tips style newsletter, they often feel that when offers are included in a newsletter, those offers are also exclusive to them. Wouldn’t you agree?

  22. velli marwan says

    Hi .. Ben!
    I strongly agree with the saying “Never Too Often Contacting Customer”. Perhaps most people will feel bored and annoyed with the email responder who kept coming to their email. Plus another incoming email is always the same email containing the bids. From my own experience, I very often receive similar email that finally made ​​me feel annoyed. Maybe this should be a concern.
    velli marwan recently posted..Voucher Hotel Murah di RajaKamar.Com

  23. Liane Markus says

    Is is my second time seeing this kind of post and I do not actually know how it works. But with this information that you have shared, I was able to figure out the profits that I can get from it. Many will surely try this because of the higher rates that they can get from it.
    Liane Markus recently posted..דיאטה

  24. Aaron says

    I’ve heard many bloggers about email marketing and they all emphasize on having a attractive Title or Subject line to your email. I think it’s correct as well, I personally too open a email which has attractive subject or I think it’s beneficial for me.
    Aaron recently posted..Goa Carnival 2012

    • Ben says

      I’ve found that short functional titles work best over longer or more sensationalized titles. Most of the time when I send a broadcast saying “FREE ____ (benefits)” it gets less opens because it seems like hype. The funny part was that I really am sharing a product for free, no-strings attached, but people usually neglect spammy sounding subject lines.
      Ben recently posted..Sneaky Backlink Indexing Trick

  25. donah says

    Actually, I’m not into e-mail marketing because it sucks (on me)! It is the last thing I would consider on getting clients but you have a great insight on how to make it work. I”d just drop here cause I’m just curious if what’s the open rates you’re talking about… Now, I’m enlightened.
    donah recently posted..Wisconsin woman killed after motorcycle crash

    • Bruker says

      I agree with you donah, its very irritating to open your mail and see huge numbers of marketing mails which i delete every time when i check my mail
      Bruker recently posted..Ore Assay

  26. Celestine says

    I”d just drop here cause I’m just curious if what’s the open rates you’re talking about…I am sure a lot will try this because of the higher rates that they can get from it.I guess it will stay like that for quite a long time.
    Celestine recently blowing glasses runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress

When I changed to the Genesis Framework and the eleven40 Theme my page load score went from 58 to 79 instantly. This was without any optimization at all. The other thing about this framework and theme is that it was so simple to setup that I can highly recommend it to each and every person that visits this blog! Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.