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15 Tried-And-True Methods For Improving Click-Open Rates

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 9, 2021

After telemarketing, email may be the most universally despised form of marketing among consumers. As effective as it can be in helping brands attract and retain customers, the sheer abundance of commercial emails that consumers receive in their inboxes every day can turn them off, leading to poor click-open rates. 

While the reasons recipients delete, unsubscribe from and move branded messaging to their junk or spam folders are many, with an effective strategy, brands can generate a good return on their investments in email marketing. 

The key to overcoming consumers’ tendency to send branded emails to the trash bin is to grab their attention quickly and in a way that inspires them to click to open them instead. The tips 15 members of Forbes Communications Council share below can help brands improve their email marketing tactics and boost low click-open rates.

1. Craft Killer Subject Lines With Eye-Catching Language

With so much data at our fingertips, crafting the perfect subject line is almost a science these days. The subject line, pre-header and sender’s name can all be seen before your email is even opened. Consider putting the most important words first. Research top-performing keywords and use unique, eye-catching language tailored to your audience segment. – Steven Hua, Medallia

2. Optimize For Mobile And Send Emails At The Right Time

People may work from home on any day, at any time and on any device, so optimize for mobile. This means making sure the subject line is short, crisp and guarantees value to those who click to open. It also means sending emails at the times and on the days that your prospects are most likely to open them—for example, don’t send B2B emails over the weekend. – Gily Netzer, Cymulate – Continuous Security Validation

3. Keep It Simple And Relatable Without Using Buzzwords

Yes, it might be “cool” to add fancy icons, flashy calls to action or buzzwords. But in my opinion, keeping it simple, direct and humble will get you there, in terms of both increasing open rates and reducing unsubscribe rates. – Ruslan Bershtein, AgileSparks North America

4. Be Honest And Send Valuable Messages From An Individual

Being an honest brand with consistent, valuable messaging and content is best for open rates. Pushing sales, spam or click-bait or faking familiarity won’t help. When an email or newsletter provides customized value for me, I open it. It’s also best to send messages from an individual when possible, unless you’re a mega brand such as Starbucks or Amazon. – Amanda Ponzar, CHC: Creating Healthier Communities

5. Deliver Relevant Content With A Clear Call To Action

There are plenty of tactics that may work in a one-off email to increase opens or clicks. However, the way to drive consistently strong engagement with your email program is to focus on delivering relevant, valuable content to your audience and have a clear call to action that is in line with the overall content. – Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LL


Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


6. A/B Test Each Component One Step At A Time

A/B testing more than one element at a time provides little value. It may even hurt. How can you tell which elements impacted your results? Work systematically to test each component until you have achieved your target click-open rate. Of course, you should pay more attention to higher-value elements such as subject lines, calls to action, links, buttons and postscripts. – Ashley Libby Diaz, Cancer Support Community Southwest Colorado

7. Personalize Specific Messaging That Will Resonate

If I see a message that feels personalized, relevant and timely, I’ll open it right away. It’s important to understand that we compete with everything else going on in our audiences’ inboxes, so the key is to try and be very specific with messaging so that it resonates. – Amanda Davis, Zii Technologies

8. Segment Your Audience To Create Meaningful Content

You can create more meaningful content when you’ve spent time understanding and categorizing the audience. Relevant content is more efficient for the reader because they don’t have to search for the helpful tips that pertain to them. When the email itself is valuable, you’ve set the expectation that clicking through will provide even more insight, which makes the option more enticing. – Ellen Sluder, smrtPhone

9. Inspire Clicks With A Believable Story That Evokes Curiosity

Improve open rates with a believable but inspiring story that evokes curiosity, intrigue and a desire that’s commonly shared by your target audience. Trying to evoke curiosity without believability can be seen as “clickbait” and discredit your brand. Start with a story that has enough of a peculiar twist to capture their attention, but also leave a gap where only a click can reveal the full story. – Matthew Stafford, Build Grow Scale

10. Offer Recipients Something For Free

One tried-and-true method for improving click-open rates is to offer something for free. It’s a surefire way of generating more clicks, which increases online visibility and brand reputation. – Haseeb Tariq, Haseebtariq.com

11. Establish Commonality With Your Audience

Through your emails, make your audience feel like you have something in common and that you are relatable. Sending an email at 7 p.m.? Maybe start with, “Still at work? Me too.” If your consumers see themselves in you, they will click to open, and, hopefully, you can build on that engagement. – Melissa Duenas, Leidos

12. Make It Feel Personal And Urgent

First, make it feel personal. Talk to your target in a personal way, touching on the points that matter to them, and A/B test subject lines and ad copy to see what works better. Second, make it urgent, but not too much so; instilling a feeling of urgency is always a good boost to open and click rates, assuming your value proposition is relevant to the target. – Kobi Ben-Meir, Yes Lender

13. Use The Word ‘You’

While a second-person point of view may seem unnatural in most formal conversations, in an email context, the audience will be inclined to open the message because it feels personal. Including the word “you” in the copy can feel inclusive and gives the recipient a sense of urgency to follow a specific call to action. – Sara McKinniss, FST Logistics, Inc.

14. Be Conversational

There is something about marketing language that makes it easy to spot. In your email marketing, use a conversational tone, as if you are talking to someone one-on-one as opposed to the language you would use talking to a crowd at a conference. – Charlie Terenzio, Newswire

15. Make Your Communication One-To-One

Everyone looks for tricks to increase metrics at scale. The true hack isn’t a hack at all. Customers can tell if you’re deceiving them with faux-personalization. If you create truly one-to-one email messages that speak to the prospect as an individual, you will receive the higher click-open rates that you seek. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

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