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Here’s How To Write Emails That Get Opened

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Email marketing may not be sexy, but it’s certainly as effective as ever. In fact, it’s estimated that for every $1 spent on email marketing, it nets a $43 return.  But, with the flood of marketers leveraging email for their business and the evolution in the way people use email, it becomes increasingly difficult to execute an email campaign that actually gets opened. Let’s take a look at a few ways to write emails that get opened.

Make it to the inbox

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the truth is that about 20% of emails never even make it to the readers inbox. With advances in antispam technology and inbox categorization, you can expect this number to rise. Luckily, there a few quick things you can do to increase your emails’ deliverability:

  • Clean your subscriber list. Removing old, unengaged, and bounced email addresses is a surefire way to increase your deliverability. For example, deleting emails from your database that haven’t engaged with you in over a year instantly increases your deliverability rate by two to five percent.
  • Use good code. Importing HTML from a 3rd party like Microsoft Word may seem like a tempting time-saver, but in the end will leave you with disastrous results. Exports like this generally produce a complicated, sloppy code that makes spam filters suspicious. Besides, since these programs aren’t meant to code for email, the final product winds up looking nothing like it is supposed to. For best results, use the email builder that comes with your email marketing platform.
  • Personalize your domains. Though not available in all email marketing services, a platform like Mailify allows you to customize the domain used in your email for your address, links, and images.  Bypassing the default assigned by most providers allows for consistency between who you say you are and who spam filters see you as. Think sending an email from instead of


Keep your subject lines short and sweet

Yes, everyone has an opinion on how to write the best subject lines. However, opinions aside, there are certain widely accepted facts that should be used to guide the creation of this ever-important few words.

  • Limit your subject lines. Write just enough to hook the reader and say what’s inside.
  • Use descriptive words like {Video} or {Infographic} (when applicable) to build excitement.
  • Personalize as much as possible. Using your recipient’s name certainly works; getting creative and working other types of personalization in is even better. In fact, personalized subject lines see open rates about 20% higher than their generic counterparts.

Your preheader matters

Perhaps the single most overlooked part of any email campaign, the preheader is that very first line of text at the top of your email. While this space is usually reserved for something along the lines of “if you’re having trouble viewing this email, click here to view it in your browser”, it doesn’t have to be! In fact, it shouldn’t be. Since it is the first line of text, it’s what your mobile-device users will see in the preview pane of their email before they decide whether or not to open it. Take advantage of this text by using it to convince the reader to open your mail. Put the link to the web version of your email somewhere else, like the following sentence.

Optimize for mobile

Ok, so this one won’t technically help you get your emails opened – but it will certainly help you get them read.  The secret is out about mobile email usage and it’s here to stay. Roughly half of all emails are opened on a mobile device, but there is more to it than that. Users don’t just appreciate mobile-responsive emails, they expect it. 70% of mobile email users will instantly delete an email that isn’t properly formatted for their device.


Responsive email technology allows you to create dynamic email templates that adapt to the screen size/device the recipient is using. This ensures your emails will always be viewed with the optimal user experience and that you don’t alienate half of your recipients.  Additionally, assume that your call-to-action button/link will have to be tapped with a person’s finger, not clicked with a mouse. A good rule of thumb (see what I did there?) is to provide a clickable area that is at least 40 pixels wide.

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  1. David says:

    Great post! One question: to be clear, are you saying removing old/inactive email address will improve the deliverability to new/active addresses or simply that your open rate percentage will go up because you’ve removed addresses that won’t/can’t open emails? If the former, why?

    • Thanks David!

      Removing old/inactive emails will actually help your overall deliverability because it helps your reputation as a sender. ISPs look favorably on senders that have higher engagement percentages, lowers, bounce rates, etc. Also, as email addresses get older they could be recycled and turned into a “spam trap” – which is essentially an inactive email address used by ISPs to figure out who is sending junk mail. Sending emails to those spam traps is a sure fire way to hurt your reputation and deliverability.

    • Jose Argudo says:

      Hi David!

      Exactly, removing old / inactive emails will enhace engagement, as the ratio between emails sent to emails opened and click will be higher. This increases deliverability over time.

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Hi, I'm Nancy.
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I'm Nancy Badillo

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