increase email open rates

In this week’s post, the last post of August, we’re wrapping a month that’s been all about email marketing. Today, I’ll discuss one of the most frustrating parts of email marketing, which is what to do if your emails aren’t working. 

I know how difficult this can be, especially when you pour a lot of time and effort into your emails. But, this happens to everyone (including professional copywriters) — so don’t get discouraged! 

I’ll dive into the tips and advice I have that will help you improve your open rates and click-through rates.

You’re not alone

If you’re someone struggling with your open and click-through rates for your emails, you aren’t alone. This happens to literally everyone at some point in their entrepreneurial journey. As a professional copywriter, I have seen firsthand that large brands with thousands of people on their email lists can have major dips in their open and click-through rates. 

Sometimes these dips have to do with the email itself, whereas other times it has to do with timing. For instance, many businesses will see major dips around the holidays because people are spending less time in their inboxes. 

No matter what the reason is, I’m here to reassure you that email marketing is a skill that you’ll get better and better at over time. Sometimes you can be doing everything right and still not get the results you want! Just know your result isn’t always an accurate reflection of your hard work.

The importance of data

I always say that copywriting is part art, part science, and part magic — and your marketing emails are no different. The science part of email marketing involves troubleshooting and testing out different things so that you can make the necessary changes or improvements. 

It’s important to play around with the emails that you’re sending out so you can figure out what your audience responds to. A great way to do this is within your automated email sequences. These emails are some of the best to play around with so that you can collect data, draw comparisons, and make the changes that will help your emails perform better. 

increase email open rates

The two most important rates to look at

If you’re someone who cares about building your email list for your business, the two rates that need your consistent attention are your open rates and click-through rates. 

You may also want to pay attention to your unsubscribe rate, but I don’t recommend it when you’re just getting started. It’s easy to feel upset when you see a lot of unsubscribes, and my biggest tip if you do want to look at these numbers is to calculate your unsubscribe rate as a percentage. You’ll see it’s not anywhere near as bad as you think it is! 

What is an open rate? It’s the percentage you get when you calculate the number of people who open your emails divided by the amount who receive your emails. For instance, if you have an email list of 500 people, and 350 people open your emails, that’s a 70% open rate. The average open rate of emails across all industries is around 21%; however, that’s going to vary depending on the industry you’re in. I recommend shooting for a 15-25% open rate, although I like to aim for 30% for my clients!

What do you do if your open rate is low? If the emails you’re sending aren’t reaching the benchmark, chances are the issue is your email’s subject line. Your open rate is directly tied to having a strong subject line, as the goal of your subject line should be to get someone to open the email. That’s the only role it plays. When you’re writing the subject line, it’s important to decide what kind of copy you want to use. Decide if you’ll use clickbait-style subject lines, or a quick question. Whatever you choose, just remember to prioritize what your audience responds to (rather than your personal preference).

Tips for creating better subject lines to help increase email open rates:

  • Create curiosity or urgency. Do what you can to peak the reader’s interest.
  • If there’s timeliness or a special offer, put that in.
  • Keep them short and sweet; the shorter the better.
  • Add personalizations, like the person’s first name.
  • Add emojis to stand out in the inbox. Just don’t overdo it!
  • Limit the punctuation and capitalization
  • Check to see if the email software you’re using allows the option for a preview text feature. So many people skip this and you’re missing out on a second opportunity to grab the person’s attention. This feature is one of the best parts of the program I use, Flodesk!

Some of my favorite subject lines I’ve gotten recently: 

  • Gemma Bonham-Carter sent an email where the subject line was “the moist maker” — a quote from friends where Ross is talking about a gravy-soaked in a piece of bread.
  • Danbee Shin always has great subject lines that pique my interest — like “we need to talk about this” or “that time I had to cancel on my VIP client.” I just know there’s a great story inside, even if I’m not the intended audience I open it.
  • Subject lines that have “you” in them also grab my attention — Taylor Slango of A&A sent me one that said, “the only thing missing is you.” Jenny Shih sent one that said, “I’m worried about you.”

What is a click-through rate (CTR)? This is the number of people who click on a link in your email divided by the number of people who receive your email. So, if you have 500 people on your email list and 25 people click on your link, that’s a 5% click-through rate. The average email click-through rate is surprisingly low at only 2.5%. I recommend shooting for a 2-3% mark. 

✔ What do you do if your CTR is low? If you’re not meeting the benchmark, it’s likely due to the content of your email. You may not be making it clear that you want people to click or you’re not giving them a reason to take that action. 

Tips for improving your CTR: 

  • Stop giving them a ton of options. You want to focus on one call to action per email.
  • Make sure the links aren’t hidden away. I recommend having one button per email for your main call to action so they see exactly what you want them to do.
  • Segment your email list where it makes sense. Sometimes the audience doesn’t care about the email you’re sending. Give them the option to opt-out of things they don’t care about by segmenting your list.
  • Remove distractions, and don’t ramble or include content that isn’t relevant to the information you’re trying to communicate.

Note: If you want to hear more tips I have for writing emails that people want to read, be sure to go back and listen to episode 12.

Coffee Break

For this week’s coffee break exercise, I’d love for you to open up your welcome sequence and find the email in that sequence that has the lowest open rate. We’re going to tweak the subject line of that email from one of the tips I shared!

You can try:

  • Adding an emoji
  • Adding the person’s first name
  • Cutting down on the length of the sentence 

Once you’ve done this, make a note to check back in thirty days and see if there’s been an improvement. This will give you great feedback on what subject lines your audience responds to and what they don’t!

Email Marketing Troubleshooting: How to Increase Your Open Rates + Click Rates: The Bottomline

It can be really frustrating when you’re putting all this time and energy into your email marketing and not get the results you wanted! I hope that this post validates those feelings and helps you realize that you’re definitely not alone when it comes to having low open rates or click rates.

It just comes down to digging deeper and figuring out what’s causing those lulls. Keep this post saved for the next time you find yourself struggling or frustrated with your email marketing, and I guarantee these tips will help you see a significant shift! 

Be sure to tune in to upcoming episodes where I’ll be diving into all things website copywriting in September! I’ve even got an upcoming free challenge in September where we’re going to take a look at your existing website and improve it so that you can better attract your dream clients! If you already know this is for you and you want to sign up, head over to copytemplateshop.com/challenge to save your seat. We’ll kick things off on September 13th! 

welcome sequence email copy templates

Thank you for reading!

If you love what you learned, be sure to connect with me over on Instagram and share your biggest takeaways. I’d love to hear from you! See you back here in the next post — and remember, I’m rooting for you, always. 


Get 20% off all email marketing related templates in The Copy Template Shop with the code AUGUST2021, available only for the month of August:

Check out Flodesk, my favorite email marketing platform.

This email contains affiliate links.



  1. Planning Your Best Launch Yet in 2022: Analyzing the Right Data for Future Launch Success — Megan Taylor - […] the open rate of your emails (this indicates the strength of your subject […]

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Welcome! I’m Megan Taylor — copywriter for online entrepreneurs, bookworm, and founder of The Copy Template Shop. I believe that anyone can write strong copy, and I’m here to teach you how to write words that sell your online offers while prioritizing real connection, serving your audience, and simply being who you are.

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