How to Improve Your Open and Click-Through Rates

If you’re an email marketer, you’re constantly striving to drive up the performance of your campaigns.

You want more opens and more click-throughs because those eventually translate into sales, right?

Don’t we all!

If you’re currently struggling to turn your email campaigns around, keep reading!

In this post we’ll provide you with helpful tactics you can  apply to your own email marketing strategy to improve both your open and click-through rates.

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

Email Statistics – An Overview

Before increasing your email stats, you need to understand some basic averages so you can set realistic objectives for your campaigns.

The last thing you want to do is set yourself up for failure.

Keeping a realistic benchmark in mind will help you aim for targets you can quickly and easily reach (or even surpass).

So maybe you’re wondering, “How do I know what is realistic?”

Take a look at these open & click-through rate averages, segmented by industry.

 Open and Click-Through Rates - by industry


 Open and Click-Through Rates - by industry Source

Keep in mind that there are many factors that impact your open and click-through rates aside from industry.

These rates vary based on company size, number of emails sent per month, subject matter (like a welcome email vs. a promotion/sales email), etc.

So what can you take away from these stats?

First, open rates are much higher than CTRS.

Why? Because your first hurdle is getting the recipient to open the email. The second is getting them to click through. So before you get hung up on CTR, you need to be sure your emails are being opened in the first place!

Second, even the best performing campaigns only get CTRS within 3-6%.

So if you’re feeling down about not getting a 50% CTR, don’t be so hard on yourself and get ready to change your expectations.

Now that we have a better understand on what our benchmark goals should be, let’s move on to some tips for increasing your open & click-through rates.

How to Improve Your Open Rates

1. Keep a healthy email list

As an email marketer, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “the money is in the list.”

This is only true if you’re maintaining the quality of your list!

You shouldn’t get too hung up on the size of your list, after all it’s just a number. It’s far more important to make sure that the subscribers you do have on your list are engaged and genuinely wanting to hear from you.

Depending on how active you are in building your list, we recommend cleaning your list every 90 to 120 days.

For a more in depth explanation of what list cleaning is and why it’s important, check out our official case study of list cleaning. 

And, for an even easier solution to cleaning your email list, check out Sendlane’s list hygiene feature!

2. Get Your Timing Right

Several case studies have shown that you can almost instantly increase your open rates by at least 20% by sending your emails to subscribers at the right time. According to research carried out by Yesware, 39% of email opens happen within one hour of delivery, so landing in people’s inboxes when they’re online and ready to read is vital.

 Open and Click-Through Rates by time


Though many marketers send out emails late-morning, it’s actually been proven that subscribers are more likely to open emails and click through in the evening between 8pm and midnight when they’re out of work and have some time to themselves.

Experiment with different timings, as what works for other marketers might not work for your specific set of subscribers.

Hint: Check out Sendlane’s Optimized Timing feature to make sure your subscribers receive your emails at the most optimal times!

3. Craft a Compelling Subject Line

So you’ve sent your email at the right time, but you’re still not getting as many opens as you’d like. This is probably down to your choice of subject line.

While it can be tempting to just send out an email with the first subject line that comes to mind, this can be extremely detrimental to your campaign.

Why? Because 47% of email recipients decide whether they’re going to open your email based on the subject line alone, which is why it’s incredibly important to craft a subject line that’s compelling.

 Open and Click-Through Rates - reasons for opening


What makes a good subject line?

  • Urgency – creating a sense of scarcity or hinting that subscribers need to act fast can compel your readers to click-through. People don’t like to miss out, so they’ll be more inclined to find out what you’re email’s all about. The key here is to only create urgency when there is actual urgency, though.
  • Curiosity – humans are curious creatures, so creating a subject line that piques people’s interest will encourage them to open it. As long as you follow through with that curiosity in your email, you’ll be golden.
  • Personalization – people want connections with brands, and that means personal, one-on-one relationships. Now more than ever, marketers have the tools and ability to learn detailed information about their subscribers and send them emails based on their preferences, likes, and wants.
  • Relevance – there’s a reason certain TV shows, films, and pop culture are popular at any given time. Crafting subject lines that incorporate what’s trending at any given time will tap into your subscribers’ need to “fit in” and can help establish your brand as an authority.

How to Improve Your Click-Through Rates

1. Create Irresistible Calls-to-Action

The most persuasive tool you have to drive click-throughs are your calls-to-action. These are the buttons or linked text you use to guide subscribers to where you want them to go. But for email marketers, calls-to-action are often the most neglected part of the email, which is a big mistake.


Because according to research by WordStream, emails with a single call-to-action increase click-through rates by a huge 371%.

By neglecting this important part of your email, you’ll lose out on a large number of clicks and sales. So how can you create an irresistible call-to-action? The key is to experiment.

Unsurprisingly, a good call-to-action is one that gets you the most click-throughs, and you’ll only discover what kind of button, text, or color works for you if you experiment with your list.

2. Stick to the essentials

Cluttered emails can be overwhelming.

In fact,  if your email is too stressful to read, most subscribers will quickly lose interest, which means they definitely won’t be clicking!

Organize your emails in a way that is concise, straightforward, and clearly communicates your message.

And when it comes to your design, make sure that it’s easy on the eyes!

No one wants to have to dig through an email to figure out what you’re offering or what they’re supposed to do next. It’s your job to tell them upfront.

When your copy and your design flow well together, your subscribers will take the time to read your email, increasing the likelihood of them clicking through to a link.

3. Segment, segment, segment

By now, you’ve probably heard this recommendation a hundred times.  And there’s a reason.

Not only does segmentation prevent you from sending annoying and irrelevant emails to your subscribers, forcing them to eventually unsubscribe, but it helps you create a more targeted offer.

A more targeted offer, means increasing the likelihood that your reader will click through.

Take the time to get to know your subscribers and craft offers that speak directly to their wants and needs.

By sending more relevant messages, you’re creating a more engaged audience.

The numbers prove it, too: Some marketers have reported as much as a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns, while a DMA report showed that segmented lists generate 58% of all email revenue.

Bottom line, if your messages aren’t relevant, don’t expect your subscribers to click.

Start Boosting Your Open & Click-Through Rates

With the right benchmarks, tactics, and tools, you can start improving your email results at a pretty dramatic pace.

It’s just a matter of following the right strategy and taking a focused approach to growth -and then sticking with it.

If you can apply the above tactics, you too will be on the course to hit amazing benchmarks in your own email marketing!

And who doesn’t want that?

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Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

Brand Marketing ManagerSendlane
A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. Primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels while maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. Host of The Marketing Automation Hustle Podcast and Sendlane Youtube Training Channel. Works closely with the marketing team to manage creative projects and develop creative assets/solutions to enhance the brand. Collaborates at the intersection of marketing, product, content, and sales to develop powerful and memorable stories and interactive experiences that bring the Sendlane vision to life.
Caitlin Hutchinson