Conversion Hacks : Increasing the Open Rate

Last week, we touched on open rate as one of several tools that can be used to measure the effectivity of an electronic advertising campaign. This week we’ll take a look at how we can take a good email campaign, increase your open rate stats and eventually convert them into actual subscribers for the long haul.

According to the July 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Report issued by Mailer Mailer,

An open rate represents the number of people who opened an email. It is calculated by dividing the number of email messages opened by the number of messages delivered. The result is expressed as a percentage.

( % Open Rate = # of messages opened / # of messages delivered )

An open can be inferred if images are enabled or a link within the email is clicked. Images may be automatically enabled when an email is opened, especially if the recipient has chosen to display them for all emails from that sender.

However, more often than not, the recipient is prompted to enable images for each email. Since recipients may open the email but fail to enable images, this metric is somewhat inaccurate.

Nevertheless, open rate remains a useful gauge of email campaign performance.

A Standard or Normal Open Rate varies from industry to industry or by list size. According to the same report mentioned above, the industries that were among that scored the highest open rates in 2011 include:

Banking (16.8%), Non-Profit (16.1%), and Consulting and Small business (15.9%)


In another more extensive report, the 2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study conducted by Silverpop, statistics show that consumer product emails scored the highest for open rates with a median of 25.4 percent unique open rate. You can find out more about this report on

What about the other industries? What can be done to increase their email open rates? If you are looking to improve your open rate, here are a few tips to follow:

It’s All About the Subject Line

FACT: Nothing happens until the email gets opened.

That’s why it is important to create compelling, effective, and actionable subject lines that make users want to open their emails. Good rules of thumb include asking a question, keeping subject lines under six words and using lowercase in all but the first word and proper nouns.

Test your subject lines. Here are some examples of proven subject lines:

  • Odd Numbers : Why He Paid Google 524,838.71.
  • Question Marks: ex. Google Made Me Slap Proof?
  • Percentages: ex. 99% of People Dieting Need to do This.
  • New Video, PDF, Pics, Video Blog Post
  • Free Report: ex. 7 Deadly S.E.O. Mistakes (free report)
  • Personal Pronouns: (you, your, et cetera)
  • Scarcity: ex. Third and Final Notice
  • Pique Curiosity / Confuse / Shock: ex. Kinda Weird But Very Profitable
  • Negative Subject Lines: ex. I Hate Technology
  • Borrowed Credibility: ex. Steve Jobs was Wrong!
  • Fill-in-the blank Subject Lines: ex. 7 Secrets of _____

Subject Line Sources to glean from

  • Google suggest

Knowing that your open rate exceeds the industry average doesn’t necessarily mean you are meeting your company’s most important business goals. The open rate metric is a useful tool but must be used in conjunction with other metrics in order to give you a realistic picture of your company’s performance. Used correctly, the data can help you calibrate your marketing efforts in order to strengthen areas that need to strengthened. Testing is constant in order to cement customer/prospect relationship, and eventually maximize conversions and revenue.

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