Email Marketing: Simple Ways to Get High Open Rates

email marketing, high open rates, new classes

July 14, 2017 by

Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss simple ways to get high open rates in your first email marketing campaign.


Most businesses know that they should be using email marketing to gain and retain customers.

But not all businesses know how.  

Even for those who do know how, many still don’t know how to net a higher open rate than 25%, or 1 in every 4 customers, where the other 3 simply delete.

So how do you set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates?

  1. Be Deliverable: your emails should be delivered to recipients without setting off spam filters.
  2. Be Teachable: should be able to listen and learn from your customers.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily!

If you can follow the outline below during your first campaign, chances are high that your messages will be delivered and received without issue. That’s because you’ll have followed certain steps that ensure you’re listening to and learning from your customers—and not just to avoid their spam filters, but to deliver what they want most.

So start being teachable in order to be deliverable, and follow along to learn how you can set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates.

Set a Target Audience

Do research, and find out who is most likely to be interested in your offer. If you’re providing an update to your service, find out who would appreciate it most and why. If you’re offering a new product, find out who is most likely to buy it and why. Avoid choosing a demographic that is too broad, such as “Millennials.” Instead, refine your search to center around the segment of your target audience that your message is most likely to hit, such as “millennials aged 25-40 who like us on Facebook.” If you can hit that target right on the bullseye, its impact will be felt throughout the market, likely reaching other people who may also become customers.

Prospect for Leads

Look for online spaces and brick-and-mortar places where your target audience is most likely to be found. Drive traffic from those spaces and places to your site via Twitter, Facebook posts, guest posts on blogs, and word-of-mouth advertising. Avoid scraping other sites for email addresses, unless you’re 100% certain they would be interested in what you have to offer, or your service directly relates to theirs (e.g., you know each other from an exposition). It’s very important you do everything you can to follow our next piece of advice.

Gain Permission

Prompt Facebook fans, site visitors, and especially regular customers to sign up for your email list. Promising a benefit such as free content, a discount, or a free trial goes a long way towards procuring this permission. It is always a bad idea to buy email lists. This is not only because it skips the permission phase of listening to your customer, but also because using it puts you in danger of violating laws that safeguard internet privacy and protect against spam.

Set Open Rate Goals

The benchmark open rate is 25%, but you can set your goal higher or lower, depending on the parameters of your campaign. If your target audience is relatively small, niche, or consists of regular customers, then you might set your open rate goal higher than the benchmark. Meeting that goal shows how well you know your customer. But if the target audience is a relatively large or a new market, you may want to set your open rate goal lower than or equal to the benchmark to be safe. Remember: in order to properly manage expectations, you should never over-promise and under-deliver. Instead, try to under-promise and over-deliver on open rate goals.

Write, Style, and Send

Writing, styling, and sending your email is the time to show your customer how well you’ve listened and learned from them. It is the most important step of the outline because it tests how well you’ve done your homework, as well as how deliverable and teachable you are. By this point, your written email copy should address the needs of your target audience and reflect a solution to all leads who have given you their email. If you write, style, and send an email but skip audience targeting, prospecting, or gaining permission, your open rates will reflect it.

Study Results, Rinse, and Repeat

Give your message at least 24 hours to be sorted by your recipients, and then check results through analytics provided by an email service provider. This is where you get to hear the verdict on whether you’re succeeding at being both teachable and deliverable. Deliverability is easy to measure. If you’re deliverable, then your bounce rates and spam flags will be low. Teachability is more difficult to measure.

If you’re teachable—that is, if you’re both listening to and learning from your customer, especially regarding their preferences—then not only will your open rates be higher than the benchmark, but your customers’ engagement levels and click through rates will be off the charts.

If that’s the case, then you’re doing something right, and all you need to do is rinse and repeat the process.

If not, then you need to learn more about how to set up email marketing campaigns for high open rates.

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about how to set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.


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