How to Improve Your Lead Nurturing Email Open Rates

If you’re a local business, you should be using lead nurturing emails as a way to convert leads into customers. Active leads have already expressed an interest in your business and provided you with their email addresses, so with lead nurturing, you’re already marketing to a receptive audience.

But, how can you make sure people are actually opening your emails so they see the compelling messages, offers, and content you’re sending?

By reviewing your current email marketing and making any necessary changes, you can increase your email open rates. Check out the following tips to help improve your email open rates and boost the success of your email marketing.

1. Determine a Realistic Email Open Rate

In an ideal world, every lead would open every email you send them. But this is simply not realistic for any business. So what should your email open rate be? It depends on your industry, and by one estimate can range from just under 10% to as high as nearly 30%. If you use a third-party email platform, ask your vendor if they can provide you with common open rates for your industry. Once you know that figure, you’ll have a benchmark to compare how your emails are performing. (And, you might discover that your lead nurturing email program is doing better than you had thought.)

2. Review & Update Your Email List

The more up-to-date and correct your lead list is, the better results you’ll see in your open rates. Make sure that your lead list contains correct email addresses! A typo in an email address can cause that email to bounce, and thus not arrive to your intended recipient. Also, if a lead decides to opt-out of your email marketing, be sure to remove their email address from your lead list. Doing so keeps you compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States, and ensures you’re marketing to people who want to receive your emails. Having a clean and updated lead list will ensure better performance from your lead nurturing program and help improve your open rates, which could be skewing low due to bad data.

3. Ask Yourself: Are My Subject Lines Compelling or Ho-Hum?

Being familiar with your business isn’t enough for leads to open your emails. Your email subject lines need to quickly grab their attention. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of this factor, because the subject line is what people will scan to determine whether or not to open it at all.

To start with, make sure your subject lines aren’t too long — six to ten words in length is ideal. This allows you to convey a compelling message while ensuring the subject line is short enough to be read on different platforms, browsers, and devices. Subject lines also need to reflect your email’s body content while providing the recipient an incentive to open the email. Lead nurturing email subject lines often describe things like:

  • Offers & Incentives: “50% Off [Service] With This Email Only”
  • Educational Content: “5 Tips to Picking the Right Yoga Studio”
  • Customer Testimonials: “Learn Why Lisa in Dallas Loves Her Kitchen Remodel”

And, be sure to avoid spammy subjects lines like those that use all capital letters, multiple explanation points, or misleading information. Doing so can send your emails straight to your audience’s spam folder or trash.

4. Create Compelling Content Your Leads Will Want to Read

Nurturing your long-term leads with emails is a powerful way to remain top of mind with your audience, so it’s important to ensure your email content is compelling. You can write a great headline, but if it’s about a subject that’s not interesting, it may not make a big difference. Some ideas for compelling content for lead nurturing emails include:

Deals & Discounts:

We all love a great deal, right? Well, so do your leads. So, create urgency and interest with special offers, discounts, promotions, and coupons.

Helpful Content that Proves Your Expertise:

Emails containing educational content like industry articles, product and service tips, and how-to content are also effective at getting the open. Why? Because they showcase your expertise while building trust with your audience.

Quotes from Real Clients:

You’ve done great work in the past and have happy customers. So why not put those positive experiences to work for you in your lead nurturing emails? Content that contains client quotes and testimonials proves to your audience that you’re able to provide the service and expertise they seek.

5. Consider Days of the Week, Time of Day, and Frequency

The days and times you send your emails, as well as how often you send them, can have a huge impact on email open rates. While email marketing experts have different opinions regarding which days, times, and frequency are best, you can look to your own email marketing reports for answers. For instance, do you see any spikes in email opens on a particular day or time of day? On the other hand, do you see a drop off in activity when you send an email twice a week compared to once a week? Looking for email open patterns (both positive and negative) will give you the insights you need to determine when and how often you should send future emails.

6. Test, Test, Test

Another important factor in boosting your open rate is to A/B test your emails to determine which components of your email marketing compel your leads to open your emails. For instance, you can test to see which days, times, frequency, and email subject lines get the most responses from your audience.

So how do you A/B test an email? First, decide what you want to test for and then split your lead list into two groups (50% of your list is Group A. The remaining 50% is Group B.) So let’s say you want to test to see if mornings are a better time than afternoons to send an email. You’d first send your email to Group A in the morning. Then you’d send the same email to Group B in the afternoon. If Group A opened the email more often than Group B, you’d know that mornings are a better time than the afternoon to send your email. Or, to A/B test the effectiveness of a subject line, send Group A an email with your chosen subject line. Then send Group B the same email but with a different subject line. (Be sure to send both emails out at the same time.) After you determine which email was opened more, you’ll know which subject line did better.

The key to A/B testing is to change just one element of your email and keep all other factors the same. If you change too many elements at once, it will be too difficult to determine what exactly your audience is responding to.

Nurturing your long-term leads via email is key to ensuring you stay top of mind with them during their buying cycle so they eventually choose to do business with you. By providing your leads with attention-getting subject lines and helpful content delivered at the right time, you can improve how many email opens you get.

To learn more about lead nurturing emails, download our free ebook. You’ll get full-length email examples, as well as information about email marketing using our lead conversion software, ReachEdgeTM.


Amy Neeley

Amy enjoys helping small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) navigate the online marketing world with tips, trends, and best practices they can use. She has written for Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, and SMBs, and her articles have been featured on sites like Yahoo! Small Business Advisor,, and other industry publications. Amy can often be found walking her dogs, Lola and Marlo, and keeping up with the news via Twitter.

View all articles

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>