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Why Your Competitor's Emails Are Getting Opened (and yours aren't)

Why your competitor's emails are getting opened (and yours aren't)

Many startups shy away from sending “too many” emails to their lead list because they think their contacts will unsubscribe—but the fact is, if you send relevant, valuable content every time, too much email will NEVER be an issue.

But let’s talk about unsubscribes—those who do unsubscribe are usually not engaged in your email marketing strategy. A whopping 92% of those who unsubscribe from an email list have not opened or clicked an email from the sender in over 12 months.

The MORE you send, the better chance you have to engage. This means, to drive engagement, you should be sending more emails… not less. Are you doing this? Your competitors are.

Let’s break down the numbers.

75% of B2B companies send at least 4 emails per month. Open rates rise 21% when B2B companies send AT LEAST 5 emails each month. This will continue to rise because deliverability is based on engagement now. The numbers don’t lie, sending more emails is NOT a bad thing.


Create an eye-catching subject line.

How else can you encourage email engagement? Look at your subject line, it is the first thing your audience will see, after all. We’ve identified some of our top-performing formulas and industry best practices, but every audience is different! Run some A/B tests to figure out which of these subject lines works best for you.

  • Half-sentence subject lines (have you seen…) - 31% higher open rate
  • Title casing subject lines (Have You Seen?) - 14% higher open rate
  • Using brackets in a subject line (Have You Seen? [Guide]) - 31% higher open rate
  • Subject lines that start with a number (5 Things You Missed) - 21% higher open rate


FOMO is the key to email marketing

Another way to encourage email opens is by inducing the fear of missing out (FOMO). Emails with offers that expire have a 55% higher overall response rate for B2B. To be successful,  you must use an expiration date and your email needs to build a sense of urgency. Explain that time or quantity is limited, and people will act. 

B2B companies’ open rates increase 38% when offer expiration is mentioned in the subject line. That being said, not all urgency is good, false urgency and empty promises are bad. 

Add FOMO to your subject lines with these buzzwords:

  • Free (33%)
  • Limited
  • Exclusive
  • Tomorrow
  • Today
  • Last Chance
  • Expires
  • Days Left
  • Don’t Miss
  • Hurry (last year this was a bad word, now good - so things are CONSTANTLY changing)
  • For You
  • Shhh/Psst
  • Invitation
  • Secret Reserved
  • Wow/Whoa


But wait, aren’t those spam triggers 

There’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room… what about the word “free” (and a lot of other words or phrases on this list)—won’t it go into the spam filter? Using “free” is fine, so USE it. If you need proof that using the word “free” won’t land you in spam filters, check out this article. Now start using these terms to boost your open rates and email marketing strategy.

Helpful tip: Filtering is based on low engagement (remember what I mentioned above?). It is NOT based on the words. Anyone telling you otherwise is living in the past.


What else should you change to drive email opens?

  • Sender name. NEVER use “do not reply” as the sender. Recipients are often off-put and click rates drop by 23%.
  • Preview text. Emails that utilize the first line of a pre-header for offer related content have 24% higher open rate.
  • The ask. Single CTA emails do far better than the ones with multiple offers. You don’t want to confuse the recipient. Make it very clear where they should head next.


Oh, and here’s a reality check...

A good portion of your opens and clicks ARE NOT REAL.

It’s important to understand the numbers:

  • Metrics are changing
  • Auto-opens account for 24% of all opened emails
  • Auto-clicks account for 18% of all clicked emails
  • What is actually happening is that at the network level, security systems are scanning these.

How do you know if you have this problem? Send campaign at a weird hour (like 3am), and then look at open rate within the first half-hour.


While more companies update their email copy to get opens, following these tips will allow you to be ahead of the curve. I recommend taking a deeper look at your email marketing strategy to increase opens, conversion rates and more.

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