12 Email Marketing Tips to Improve Open and Click Through Rates

September 05, 2016


The modern day marketer has to incorporate email into their communications strategy; everyone has at least one email address, and each of those addresses is an opportunity to engage and re-engage your audience.
The trouble is your emails get lost in the shuffle or are deemed spam before anyone has a chance to see it. Or when someone does actually open your email, they don't actually click through to any of your other content.
No worries, if you need someone to handle your email marketing BBB knows a couple Accredited Businesses that can help.
And if you're a do-it-yourself-er, you can rely on these BBB provided tips and tricks to immediately improve the open rates, clickthrough rates, and lead generation of your emails.

12 Email Marketing Tips to Improve Open and Click Through Rates 
1) Follow CAN-SPAM rules.

In case you don't know about CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing), it is an act that was passed in 2003, and it establishes rules for commercial email and commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them, and outlines the penalties incurred for those who violate the law.

In order to be CAN-SPAM compliant, it's important your email messages follow these rules, which are available on the FTC's website.

Here are several key takeaways from CAN-SPAM you should be aware of:

  • You need to include your valid physical postal address in every email you send out.

  • You need to give recipients a clear and obvious way to opt out (i.e., unsubscribe) of every email you send.

  • You need to use clear "From," "To," and "Reply to" language that accurately reflects who you are.

  • You cannot sell or transfer any email addresses to another list.


2) New contacts should be emailed within 24 hours.

When you get a new email contact you know your brand is at the top of your prospects' mind, so strike while the iron's hot and shoot them an email. This quick follow up messaging will keep your brand in the spotlight, set expectations for future emails you'll send them, as well as give you an opportunity to gauge that contacts' potential level of engagement with future emails.

Many programs allow you to create automated emails that trigger whenever a particular action is done (in this case, submitting contact information to you), so why not setup an engaging follow up email for new contacts? Keep your contacts engaged and nurture that relationship.


3) Send your email from a real person, not your company.
Sending emails from a real person definitely helps increase your email open rate; recipients are typically more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one. Nowadays people are bombarded with spam emails from who knows where/who, and they often hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders.
You should do this:
  • Sender Name: John Smith
  • Sender Email: John@company.com
Instead of this:
  • Sender Name: Marketing Team
  • Sender Email: Marketing@company.com
4) Pre-set the preview text.

Email clients like the iPhone Mail app, Gmail, and Outlook will display the first few lines of text from the body of your email alongside the subject line. In other words, it's a text preview of the content inside the email. The exact amount of text shown depends on the email client and user settings.

Use it to provide a short, to-the-point synopsis of what you're offering -- and keep it to 50 characters or less. 


When you don't set the preview text, the client will automatically pull from the body of your email, which not only looks messy, but is also a wasted opportunity to engage your audience.

5) Write clear and clickable subject lines.
You have a lot of competition in email inboxes, so you need to use your email's subject line to help your email stand out and catch your recipient's eye. The goal is to write something that is simple irresistible to the point you can't help but open that email.

To entice readers to click, be sure your subject lines:

  • Are clear, concise, and understandable.
  • Are fewer than 50 characters so they don't get cut off, particularly by mobile devices.
  • Include verbs and action-oriented language to create a sense of urgency and excitement.
  • Include an exclusive value proposition (like a 20% off deal or a free ebook) so people know what they're getting.
  • Avoid spam triggers like “Cash,” “Quote,” and “Save."

Here's a solid blog post with more tips for writing highly clickable subject lines. 

6) Keep your emails short.
Bottom line is, people are busy and their inboxes are already full; they don't have time to read your entire short-novel-of-an-email (sorry to burst your bubble!). Write concisely and get to your point so the reader can make a decision on what to do with your info next. 
And if you need to send a longer, content heavy email, make sure to break up your information so that it is visually appealing and can be easily skimmed for the important details. You are trying to accommodate readers by providing your info in a digestible manner.
7) Include one, clear call-to-action button per email.

As mentioned in Tip #6, people skim emails for the important material. That's why having a clear, easily spotted call-to-action (CTA) will catch the eye of even the quickest email readers. The CTA will then provide access to beneficial information by directing the reader to the next action you'd like them to perform.


Place your CTA somewhere easily seen that makes sense for someone to click on. For example, you might put a CTA to download a free ebook in an email that describes new strategies for using your product.

8) Add links to your images.
It's not exactly a call-to-action button per-say, but images can still serve the same purpose: helping the reader click through to your website. Adding links to images will help to cut down on clutter in your written content as well and keep things clear and concise.
Many email creation tools will allow you to click on the image and attach your URL directly or you can simply use the HTML code below:
<a href="HTTP://YOURLINKHERE.COM"><img class="alignCenter shadow" src="YOUR IMAGE SOURCE HERE.JPG"/></a>
9) Include noticeable text links.

In general, it's a good idea to link to your featured offer in multiple places in addition to the clear and focused call-to-action button. In addition to your main CTAs and images, consider including a noticeable text link (or two) when applicable because having more links increases the opportunity for engagement.

One analysis found that linking a phrase with about 7-10 words is best for boosting clickthrough rate.

10) Add social sharing buttons.
Increasing the number of people who see your link will increase the number of people who click on it. So, be sure to extend the life of your email by adding social sharing buttons. Sharing buttons will allow the email to be shared to the recipient's social media accounts (this is not to be confused with "follow" buttons, which entice users to follow your social media accounts).


Many email tools will come with templates that have built-in social sharing buttons that make it easy -- just fill in the destination URL and you're good to go. If you don't have built-in capabilities, here is a cheat sheet for easily creating your own social sharing buttons.
11) Keep mobile users top-of-mind.
In Litmus' analysis of over a billion email opens, they reported that 56% of opened emails were opened on mobile devices in April 2016. This figure represents an 8% increase in mobile opens in the past year. That means as a marketer, you need to be cognisent of HOW people will be accessing your emails.

Here are a few ways to optimize your emails for mobile devices:

  • Reduce your images' file sizes to make up for mobile devices' generally slower download speeds.
  • Ensure the CTA buttons and links are larger than 45-57 pixels for the best user experience.
  • Invest in mobile-first, responsive email templates.
12) Preview and test your emails before sending them.
When you're finally ready to hit "Send" on your email, make a habit of double-checking one last time whether your emails look as good as you think they do. You should also send out a test version of your email before you send out the real deal to ensure it's working properly for everyone on your email list.

By putting these tips and tricks into practice, you will start seeing increased open and clickthrough rates for the emails you're sending. 
BBB Serving Western Michigan is here to help you better your business approach in general and Accredited Businesses can handle all of your email marketing needs.