20 Ways to Increase Email Open Rates in HubSpot

by The Email Problem Solver

Did you know that email open rates increased by more than 13% this year? Whoever said email is dead is again proven wrong.

Email marketers measure the success of their email campaigns by monitoring email metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). There are many ways to measure the performance of an email campaign but we’ll talk about what indicates the success of your email marketing strategy and what most email marketers focus on -- the email open rate.

How are email open rates measured?

Email open rates are calculated by dividing the number of opened emails by the total number of delivered emails for a campaign.

Note that sent email is different from delivered email. An email can be sent, but not be accepted by the receiving server. While bounces are an issue, a high bounce rate is caused by different factors than a low open rate, so bounced emails are excluded from the open rate calculation.

For example, if you sent 100 emails and 3 bounced, you're left with 97 delivered emails. From those 97 emails, let’s assume 10 are opened. This means that your email open rate is 10.3% (10 opened emails ÷ 97 delivered emails).

What is a good email open rate?

Email open rates are not the same for everyone. They are considered by industry, target audience, campaign types, etc.

It’s important to know your industry’s average email open rate to see how well you compare to others in your niche. A study showed that the recent average email open rate across all industries is 21.5%. Anything below that is concerning and your email marketing strategy should warrant a second look and fine-tuning.

Use this handy tool to check your email health metrics, including open rate and many more.

The average B2B email open rate is 19.8% while B2C marketing emails have an open rate of 20.5%. Check out Campaign Monitor’s latest benchmark report for a deep dive.

Let’s take a look at the average email open rates by industry in the image below.

Image Source: Campaign Monitor

Now that we have an idea of what a healthy email open rate looks like, let's take a look at the 23 ways you can increase email open rates in HubSpot.

1 -Improve your subject line

Did you know 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone? In a never-ending fight for attention in your subscriber’s inbox, a stand-out subject line can separate you from the ordinary.A good subject line should provoke enough curiosity from the reader, prompting them to click, draw them in and get them interested in the email.

Here are some tips for writing a standout subject line:

  • Ask questions.
  • Tease them.
  • Personalization. Avoid using generic and formulated subject lines.
  • Use emojis.
  • Subject line length. Consider the number of characters when viewed on different devices, desktop displays about 60 characters while mobile devices show just 25-30 characters. Due to the constraint, consider moving call-to-action at the beginning of the subject line.

2- Optimize preview text

Put your best foot forward and make a good first impression with preview text. This is the text below or next to an email’s subject line in the inbox and gives extra insight into what’s inside the email. This is also a really simple way to increase email open rates in HubSpot

Here’s what a preview text looks like from both desktop and mobile:

Preview text can be easily overlooked and if you don’t set it, the first few lines of the email text automatically get selected and displayed. But if your email starts with an image, the important first few lines will now display as “click here to enable images” or worse yet, nothing will show so the email looks empty in your subscribers’ inbox. If your email seems to be badly formatted or empty, this will prompt your reader to skip your email and leave it unopened and unread.

Similar to the subject line, preview text also has a character limit. The display limit is generally between 35 and 90 characters, but this will also adjust depending on how much space the subject line takes -- the longer the subject line, the shorter the preview text is, and vice versa. But take note, preview text settings can be changed by your subscriber in their email client, either by showing the full preview text or by not showing it at all.

No matter if your subscriber decides to show it or not, make sure the important parts are at the beginning so your message is displayed.

Here are some tips for great preview text:

  • Make it short and catchy
  • Make it personal
  • Match it with the email content
  • Ask a question
  • Add suspense
  • Don’t clickbait or at least don’t be deceptive
  • Add call-to-action

3- Personalize your email

Email personalization is the act of targeting an email campaign to a specific subscriber based on the data you have about them. It may range from the simple, using their first name in the subject line, including content based on their gender, and where they live. It may also be sophisticated like integrating a customer’s browsing history and recent purchases in your email and a number of virtually unlimited data points. A study done by Litmus found 60% of B2C companies are personalizing email based on past purchases, compared to 38% of 2019. Personalized emails also generate a median ROI of 122%.

Write your email with a single person in mind. Tailor your message to who they are and what they believe in, but you’ll only know who you’re writing for if you know your customer’s buyer personas. It is a representative persona of compiled data you’ve gathered about your subscribers.

A personalized email is:

  1. Timely. Based on your gathered data about your subscriber, you now know what content they need depending on a particular stage of their customer journey with you. Let’s say, they searched for a particular guide on your site, you now have an understanding of what they need and can then send them a copy of the guide in a timely manner.
  2. Relevant. The buyer persona comes in handy in terms of relevance. When you know what they want in that particular time of their journey with you, relevant content comes in easy and will definitely grab their attention. It is even best when you send them something they didn’t know they need. An example of this is product recommendations which are based on their past purchases from you.
  3. Friendly. Call them by their name and don’t use a generic email address, use a real person’s email address. Try to ask questions to get to know them better and relate to them. Avoid using “corporate speech”. Friends also share jokes and try to have fun. This shows that you know them intimately, you know their likes and dislikes. The same is true when personalizing emails.

When most marketers personalize their emails, customers don't just like personalized marketing experiences, rather they expect them.

4- Get permission: double opt-in

People generally don’t want to receive emails from someone they don’t know, they’re suspicious about it and won’t click and open it. A good number actually report these emails as spam, 43% of email recipients mark emails as spam based on the sender’s email address or the “from” name. Another study by OptinMonster shows that 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.

Another simple way to avoid falling email open rates, possible spam complaints and increase email open rates in HubSpot is to use the double opt-in method, this is when a user willingly signs up for your email marketing list by clicking and confirming the subscription link emailed to them when they opted-in. Only after the confirmation click is completed will the user officially be added to the email marketing list.

It also provides additional security against bots that sign up for your newsletter. The added step also shows great interest from your subscribers which means better engagement and better results for your email marketing strategy.

5- Set expectations

Be honest with your subscribers after they opted into your email list. Let them know exactly what to expect, the types of emails and how often they’ll receive them, and what benefit they’ll get from them.

Here are some things new subscribers should know about:

  • What kind of message you’ll send them: news, product offers, event invitations, tips, etc.
  • How often should they expect to get your emails: weekly, monthly, two times a week, etc.
  • What they, as subscribers, will get from your emails? What value they’ll find in them?
  • How you’ll use their data and other information they provided?

6- A warm welcome email

In email marketing, you’re trying to build a friendly and personal relationship. A warm welcome email sets that groundwork up. Not only that but 74% of new subscribers expect to receive a welcome email right after they subscribe to your list, and those who do are 33% more likely to engage with the brand according to Invesp.

Here are some things to include in your welcome email to increase email open rates in HubSpot:

  • Thank them for joining your email list and why it’s important to you that they join, introduce yourself or your company,
  • You can also include a preference or interest form. This will help you get to know them more and craft targeted and personalized emails in the future because they’ll provide valuable information about themselves.

7- Build anticipation

Anticipation is a powerful emotion you can use to increase email open rates. People always want something they don’t have and making them wait for it heightens that desire.

Continue to interest them by showing the value of your service or product -- a hint of an offer or a new product in upcoming emails will generate interest. Some marketers even run anticipation-building email campaigns for the same purpose. This requires consistency to build but your subscribers will look forward to your subsequent emails.

8- Ask why they unsubscribe

When a subscriber unsubscribes to an email list, there tends to be a legitimate reason for it. The act itself shows a great intention and causes less time for something they would rather be doing.

Knowing the reason why they unsubscribed gives you a chance to fix the issue and prevent more subscribers from unsubscribing.

9- Add images

Don’t underestimate the power of visuals. 65 percent of the population are visual learners, which means that visual communication is your best strategy. Just like what the old adage says, “A picture speaks a thousand words”.

Images break up the monotony of words and it’s great for summarization, not to mention, it’s also a great way to increase email open rates in HubSpot. When you select the right image, they offer more comprehensibility than words ever could. People also relate emotions with images, which makes your email more impactful and memorable than only adding text.

10- Be mobile-friendly

Keep in mind that your audience does not only use desktop and laptop but a plethora of different mobile devices. A study from Litmus shows that mobile accounts for 49.7% of email opens in May 2021.

This only shows that you cannot afford to ignore them, instead, you have to appeal to them.

70% of consumers will delete emails immediately if it’s badly formatted and does not display correctly according to eMailMonday. Don’t forget to check if you’re emails are mobile-friendly to increase email open rates in HubSpot.

Here are some tips to be mobile-friendly:

  • Keep your subject lines concise. Keep in mind that subject line real estate is tight, so make the most out of it.
  • Make it easy to read, use larger fonts. Nobody wants to squint to read, and it also puts off your subscribers from your message.
  • Keep your formatting simple. There is no need to be complex when simple does it better -- in readability and getting your message across.
  • Reduce load time, use smaller images. Keep in mind that you’re competing for attention but people have a short attention span. Try to compress your images without them being too pixilated to reduce load time.

11- Write amazing content

There is a golden rule for email: Always provide value. Every email you send should have the reader in mind. It should answer the question: What should the subscriber gain from it?

If a subscriber gains value from reading your emails, they’ll anticipate your subsequent emails and are more likely to open and engage with them.

Here are some value-added contents to link:

  • Blog posts
  • Free eBook
  • Product or service features and updates
  • Webinar
  • Educational email
  • Newsletter

12- Engage your subscriber

As an email marketer always remember that email is communication, and communication is an exchange of information. That means it takes more than one person (mostly you) to do it. Nobody wants to talk to someone always talking about themself, it’s not fun that way.

Here are some ideas to have a fun and engaging email:

  • Roll out polls. Polls are an easy way of engaging your subscribers.
  • Surveys.
  • Quizzes.
  • Ask questions

Take note of their answers and add them to your buyer personas to get a fuller perspective of your subscribers. Your next email campaigns will be more targeted and relevant.

13- Be unique

You might think that it’s difficult to be unique in a crowded space like email marketing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Being unique is all about personality. The way you write your emails, showing them you care and listen to their feedback, how you make them feel appreciated and involved are examples of how you express your personality and your company culture.

Those that stand out are more often the ones that are genuine and authentic.

14- Proofread and review your email

No matter how careful you think you are being, sometimes there are things that get through the cracks. That’s why an internal review is always helpful, another set of eyes can help spot mistakes you missed. It doesn’t only have to be grammatical mistakes but broken links, errors, and wrong information counts too.

You are building credibility and authority with every email you send. But nothing ruins authority and trust faster than a faulty link, spelling errors, and wrong information. Your relationship with your subscribers falls a step back and you have to work hard to gain their trust back.

15- Finding the right time

They say timing in life is everything. Well, the same is true in email marketing. Being right at the top of your subscribers’ inbox will increase the odds of them clicking on it.

There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the best time to send emails. Some prefer to read emails right after they wake up, others do it on their lunch break, and still, some also read it on their bed before going to sleep.

Marketing automation has helped marketers for years now. But there is something to be said about AI that analyzes your subscribers’ email engagement behavior from the past and that tries to predict their future behavior based on those available data.

16- Create a re-engagement campaign

Before you think about scrubbing off your inactive subscribers, consider sending them a re-engagement email campaign. This is a straightforward process to increase email open rates in HubSpot.

They have subscribed to you for a reason, and though it may have been to get access to your email fatigue ebook, there may be a chance they’ll engage with you if you spark an interest with them again. This is a relationship and chemistry and spark applies to you and your subscriber, too.

Here are some tactics to win them back:

  • Craft a better subject line. Remember that this is your primary hook, reel them in with an irresistible subject line.
  • Update inactive subscribers with new features and changes they might have missed.
  • Offer incentives and entice them.
  • Appeal to their emotions. “We miss you” re-engagement emails, a sad or worried tone of voice, and steering inactive subscribers to a CTA to stay subscribed.
  • Offer a chance to opt out. Honest and to the point but it’s highly likely they’ll want to stay subscribed.
  • Use brand-appropriate images and GIFs.
  • Use a bit of wit and humor to win them right back.

But as with every relationship, sometimes it’s better to break it off than dragging it longer i.e cleaning them off because they’re dragging your overall open rate.

17- Maintain a healthy email list and segment, segment, segment

There will always be inactive subscribers in your email list, and there is always a reason for their inactivity. Your job is to find out more about your subscribers and tailor each content according to their needs.

It’s easier if you have previously identified your subscribers’ persona and their journey with you. Combining them with behavioral data you’ve gathered and highly relevant content will appeal to them more. Properly segmented campaigns drive a 760% increase in email revenue, a study showed.

. Here are ways to segment your list:

  • Interests
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Pain points
  • Demographic information
  • Buyer’s journey
  • Behavioral and engagement data

Segmentation is good and all but keeping healthy email hygiene is also important. You can’t increase email open rates in HubSpot if you’re sending to outdated addresses. It’s important to scrub your list because you’re losing about 20% of your email subscribers yearly, according to Campaign Monitor. A crucial way to increase email open rates in HubSpot is to keep a clean and healthy list. This will help you focus your marketing efforts on subscribers who can actually turn into customers.

18- Choose the right frequency and understand email fatigue

Are you sending too many emails? Not enough? Just right?

Finding the right frequency to send emails is a tricky subject. One study shows that 49% of consumers want to receive emails on a weekly basis while another says sending emails 1-2 emails per month yields a high email open rate.

You can certainly set a consistent schedule and include email frequency preferences when they opt-in. But it can only go so far. Eventually, their preference changes and you can’t manually anticipate them. What once was enough may now be too much, and vice versa.

There are tools that help marketers like you automatically adjust to your subscribers’ constant behavior changes. Automatic engagement-based segmentation allows you to easily email customers at their preferred frequency. No more annoyed subscribers.

It’s easy to send too many emails too soon if you haven’t set your email frequency. Spread your emails out and give your subscribers time to digest your latest email to avoid email fatigue. Chances are, they’ll engage with you better next time if they aren’t bombarded with too many emails.

19- Avoid spam filters

Beware of trigger words that set off spam filters, they affect your email deliverability and your subscribers won’t even notice you’ve emailed them.

Words like “free”, “clearance”, “click here” are some of the trigger words that will surely land you in the spam folder.

Here are some practices to avoid landing in the spam folder:

  • Make sure your audience has actually opted-in to your email list
  • Use double opt-in confirmation method
  • Ask them to whitelist and add you to their address book.
  • Send from good IP address and high email sending domain reputation
  • Comply with CAN-SPAM Act

20- Don’t forget to A/B test

To better improve results in your email marketing strategy, A/B test just about everything.

According to Invesp, 58% of companies use A/B testing for conversion rate optimization (CRO). Another study by MarTech shows that 89% of US companies perform A/B tests on email campaigns.

Some things to consider A/B test:

  • Subject lines
  • Images
  • CTAs
  • Style
  • Tone of voice

A/B tests provide insight and valuable data to not only increase email open rates in HubSpot but your email marketing strategy in general.

Wrap Up

Those are some of the guaranteed ways to increase email open rates in HubSpot. Now that you know 20 ways to increase email open rates in HubSpot, it’s time you practice and put it in action in your email marketing strategy, the sooner the better.