From the 2014 email open rates report.

Think about the last email you opened.

Why did you open it? Was it the subject line? The time you received it? The sender?

To help provide an overall understanding of the trends impacting email open rates, we analyzed 6.4 million emails. The results are by no means the end-all-be-all benchmarks to live by; however, the following insights should provide insight into factors impacting email open rates.

We'll sought to answer the following questions -

clock How does time impact email open rates?
 writing How do certain words in subject lines impact our open rates?
 phone How do we write emails people want to open?

While the first two sections reveal the our 2014 data, the last section provides a template for writing effective sales emails.

 About Our Study

Sample Size

6.4 million one-to-one emails sent through Gmail, Apple Mail, or Outlook.


Collected from Sidekick, a free tool that tracks email opens and clicks.

How does time impact email open rates?

First, we looked at emails sent during the work week versus the weekend.

We found that 80% fewer emails are sent over the weekend.

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Likely due to the lower volume, emails sent over the weekend are also 10% more likely to be opened

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While email open rates are drastically higher over the weekend, it's important to note that far fewer emails are sent over the weekend.

So don't completely alter your strategy yet - instead, experiment with sending your emails over the weekend and note the results.

Next, we looked at how long it took for emails to be opened. 

We found that 50% of emails are opened in the first 24 hours.

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Past the 24-hour timeframe, 80% of emails were opened within 12 days of being sent.

How do certain words in subject lines impact our open rates?

Emails with "You" in the subject line were opened 5% less than those without.

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Example Use Cases: 

  • "Pleasure discussing future goals with you today."
  • "Are you still interested in our service?"


With one-to-one email correspondence, the prospect likely knows you are already talking to them specifically. “You” is a nice touch, but try testing specific prospect names for true personalization.

Emails with “Free” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without.

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Example Use Cases: 

  • "Sam, are you free to chat this week?"
  • "Feel free to reach out with questions from today’s call."


While various theories dictate that using the word “free” can land your email in spam filters, our data showed that emails with “free” positively impacted open rates. Try this word in the sales context to see how it works for you.

Emails with "Quick" in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without.

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Example Use Cases:

  • Let’s connect for a quick call on this?
  • Rachel, have time for a quick conversation?


Creating a sense of urgency is a valued sales tactic, but the word “quick” doesn’t seem to help evoke such. Try being more specific in your emails with something like, “Let’s connect for a five minute call on this?”

Emails with "Tomorrow" in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without.

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Example Use Cases:

  • Guru, can we talk tomorrow?
  • Look forward to reviewing the proposal tomorrow.


While “quick” had minimal impact on urgency, the word “tomorrow” invites a certain time sensitivity. A prospect may be interested in opening it just to see what could be happening the next day.

Emails with "Meeting" in the subject line were opened 7% less than those without.

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Example Use Case:

  • Scheduling our next meeting.
  • Next Step: Pricing plan review meeting.


As Jill Konrath often says, today’s “frazzled customer” is too busy andd has plenty of meetings. Using such diction presents your subject line as a necessary email, possibly making it unappealing to open.

Emails with no subject all together were opened 8% more than those with a subject line.

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Example Use Case:

Simply don’t include a subject line. :)


Surprisingly, emails without a subject line were just as effective as those with an actual subject line. Without a subject line, prospects simply see a preview of the email body. Now it’s likely that these emails were after a sales rep had already connected with their prospect – not their first email outreach.

Emails with “fw:” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without.

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Example Use Case:

Any email forwarded and the subject line is not changed.


An important engagement metric for sales email success is seeing if a prospect is forwarding your email around their company.  But when it comes to the emails you send, including the “FW:” may decrease open rates. Try changing your subject line of that forwarded email all together.

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How do we write emails people want to open?

Step 1: Email Subject Lines

While the above data provides key insights into what timing / words impact email open rate trends, we wanted to dive into some best practices we've seen work in our sales funnel.

Let's begin with subject lines. Here are some email subject line variations we've seen success with - 

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Step 2: Email Opening Lines

How many emails do we reply to that begin with, “My name is ...”?

Likely not many. 

Instead, we start off by saying something about our prospect instead of ourselves. For example -

Step 3: Email Body Copy

Now, our body copy should relay our value by connecting us to our prospect. In our emails, we're sure to avoid generic value propositions.

We’ve found that asking questions works incredibly well in prompting a response. Here are some potential questions to try -

Ready to test which of these email practices work best?

As mentioned in the introduction, our study helped unveil a rudimentary understanding of what impacts email open rates. From here, the optimal route is to test which variations work best for you. We recommend doing so with the following steps -

1. Gather a set of email recipients and split them into two even buckets.

2. Install Sidekick, a free email tracking software, to track if they are opened or not.

3. Send the first half of your list an email with one subject line / body copy variation. Send the second half of the list another version.

4. After 24 hours, check to see which emails were opened most, and which weren't opened at all.



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