Cold Email · · 4 min read

How To Fix Low Open Rates For Cold Email

There could be plenty of reasons why you could be seeing low open rates for your campaigns, and while most of the are quite simple - you need to ensure your accounts and campaigns are configured in the best possible way to maximise your open rates.

How To Fix Low Open Rates For Cold Email

There are different opinions on if you should keep open tracking enabled or will it increase the reply rate and perceived deliverability with open tracking disabled. The open tracking pixel could technically hurt deliverability, but it is difficult to gauge the extent of it. So it does depends on users whether they prefer to have the proper stats or they don't really have a preference for it. I believe you can always test it from your side if you see improved campaign performance / reply rates with the open tracking disabled.

Here are some reasons why you could have low open rates

Email accounts not set up properly
If you do not have SPF, DKIM, DMARC set up properly for your accounts, that could negatively impact deliverability.

Bad subject lines
If your subject line is generic, salesy and not targeted, there’s less chance people will open it.

Email account not warmed up enough or not using warm-up.
If you haven’t warmed up your emails for at least 2-3 weeks before sending cold email you might see lower open rates. Your own domain’s reputation and how old it is, along with the reputation of your sending accounts affect your deliverability.

Email account sending too many emails
If you’re sending too many emails you might get flagged and most of your emails will end up in spam and won’t be opened.

Using Spam words
Don’t use words from this list.

Non personalised Email
If it’s obvious from the email snippet that the email is generic and not targeted, there’s lower chance of being opened.

Unverified Lead List
If you don’t verify your email lists there are going to be a lot of email accounts that don’t exist and bounce, which means your open rate is lower.

Using Images in your Copy
Using images might cause more of your emails go into spam and lower deliverability.

Using Link in your copy
Using links might cause more of your emails go into spam and lower deliverability.

Your open rate tracking is off
This one’s obvious.

Not using custom tracking domain
Not using custom tracking domain mean you’re using the same tracking domain as other people and that won’t get you as good of a deliverability as using your own custom tracking domain.

If the domain associated with your email addresses, custom tracking domain, or any links associated included in your email body are on a blacklist, that will negatively impact deliverability.

You can check blacklist status on third-party services like

Using generic email
Targeting info@company vs name@company

Sending at wrong times
If you send email after work hours, over the weekend or on holidays, people will open them less.

Reputation of email service provider's IP
While most major providers (like Google, Zoho, Outlook, etc.) automatically take care of the sending server’s IP reputation, this could yet be another reason for low deliverability. Please make sure your email service provider’s IP address is not in a blacklist.

Pixel Disabled by certain email clients
Certain email clients, like the iPhone's stock Mail app, for example, have privacy settings on that remove the loading of images by default (to prevent tracking). In case that happens, a tracking event will not get fired. This is an industry-wide problem regardless of which email open tracking tool you use.

Here are some tips to keep in mind

Based on our experience, our process is monitoring campaigns daily and if the open rate for those campaigns is below 40-50%, we lower the volume of the campaign until it's back up there. Essentially, we scale based on the Open Rate and not based on days.

If open rates are really bad (20%ish) then we pause the campaigns for 1-2 weeks and relaunch them and slowly scale up.

You want to check bounces and lead source, so you don't get over 2% bounce rate on your leads.

And we buy and warmup new domains every month as a backup, for scaling and just because most domains see a deliverability drop at some point. This way you're always safe even if some domains get burned fully. This is a general industry practice and is completely optional.

Biggest impact is on the accounts themselves, so you want to monitor them daily and we're seeing that 2-3-4 months in all pure cold email accounts suffer from lower deliverability.

Also we recommend switching up copy often and using spintax so the content that goes out is unique.

1. How accurate or reliable are the open rates data that is reflected on my Instantly dashboard?

Answer -
Everything you see on your dashboard is 100% real. We don't tweak any data :)

Now when it comes to accuracy of the Open rates, our algorithm is designed in such a way that it detects every email opening. So the detection system is fully functional.

However, Open Rates are not the true KPIs of the campaign emails. As a matter of fact, we encourage people to not follow Open rates as their true performance indicators for the emails. The most correct form of KPI would be the responses that you receive from the leads.

2. I’m getting 100% open rates, which is highly unlikely and that too within a matter of seconds, why is that? Are you guys tweaking the data in any way?

Answer -
This can happen if the either the sending SMTP or the recipient's box 'scans' the emails (which triggers a false open event). We had a fix that would take care of it, but we disabled it since then we'd have users complaining about low open rates.

Now the reason why we say to not fully trust the open rates, despite having a fully functioning detection system is because some email providers scan the emails that are sent. It can be from either side. If your email provider is scanning the emails on sending Or if it is the recipient's provider who is scanning the emails - It triggers the open rate.

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