Email Open Rate for Link Builders: How to Reach More People and Build More Links

Averages and How to Have it Higher?
Published on 
May 2, 2024
Updated on 
May 2, 2024

A lot of link building is relationship building.

You reach out to websites and people that you would like a backlink from (very often people you don’t know from Adam), and you try to negotiate a mutually beneficial exchange. 

Of course, in order to even make it to this negotiation phase, someone first needs to open your email. 

In short, a good email open rate is positively correlated with link building success (at least in theory). 

The more people who are actually willing to open your emails and give you the time of day, the greater the odds that someone (or multiple people) are going to work with you to place that link.

Of course, this is easier said than done. 

For this reason, among others, a lot of businesses choose to outsource link building to a full-service link building agency. 

Cold outreach is part art, part science, and it takes a while to get good, not to mention carry out. 

The realities of open rates

According to Statista, by 2025, it is projected that some 376.4 billion emails will be sent and received worldwide every single day. 

Most of those likely won’t ever be opened. 

That’s just the name of the game, unfortunately. 

Email marketing company Campaign Monitor put together a list of open rates by industry, which you can check out here

The tl;dr of their findings, however, was that none of the industries surveyed, from IT/Tech/Software to Media, Entertainment and Publishing, broke the 30% threshold. 

Put differently, most industries have a 70 percent unopened rate. 70 percent of the emails that get sent (at best) are not opened. 

While that might sound disheartening, email campaigns are a numbers game. 

An email open rate of 20% on 500 emails sent is 100 emails. 

If you’re building links, that’s 100 potential link building opportunities. 

Depending on how you approach an outreach or email marketing campaign, your open rate will be higher or lower. 

As a link building agency that has been at this for a while, we’ve gotten our outreach emails down to a science and we have a good understanding of what’s going to get us opened, and what’s going to get us ignored. 

This has helped us land links in some of the biggest publications on the web.

First step: actually hitting the inbox

This might seem like it would go without saying, but the first step to being opened is to actually hit a person’s inbox. 

You would be surprised how many people don’t put the time into ensuring their electronic communication isn’t automatically sent to the spam folder or rejected by the recipient’s email service provider altogether. 

Warming up a new email address

Warming up a new email address and email domain is a fundamental part of your open rate and is crucial to the success of any link building campaign. 

New domains and email addresses start out with a neutral reputation (neither good nor spammy) and then build a reputation either for trustworthiness or spamminess. 

Warming up an email address involves sending emails using a new address slowly (over the period of a few weeks) while steadily increasing the volume of emails that are sent each day. 

Ideally, you want to have people positively engaging with the emails you send–opening them, replying to them, starring them, etc. to let the email service provider know that your emails are not just obnoxious spam content. 

Manual vs automated warmup

There are basically two ways you can go about warming up a new email address. 

Manual warmup

Manual warmup involves sending out emails to a list of people and doing that consistently over the course of a few weeks. 

Often, people warm up new email addresses by sending emails to people they know and requesting positive interaction. 

This is a great way to warm up new email addresses and improve your email open rate, but it can be quite tedious. 

Automated warmup

Automated warmup on the other hand involves the use of specialized tools. There are plenty of warmup tools out there. 



And a long list of others. 

Most are freemium, wherein you get a limited number of warmup emails for free and then if you really want to take full advantage of the tool you have to pay. 

They can, however, really give you a leg up when it comes to your email open rate and help establish early trust so that your emails land in a recipient’s inbox when cold emailing. 

Send emails from a real person

Emails sent by real people get opened more often than those from generic info@ or amin@ email addresses. 

Given the amount of spam that people receive on a daily basis–it is estimated that around 85 percent of the emails people receive are spam–people tend to be more likely to trust an email address with a name attached to it. 

It is also just nice to feel like you are communicating with a real person. 

Sure, a lot of marketing emails are automated templates that have been personalized (to greater and lesser degrees) to give them the air of that human-to-human interaction, but it is still nice to know that it is a real person, in whatever capacity, is behind the correspondence. 

Use a professional email address

Perhaps other than outright spam language (which we will deal with in a bit), nothing gets an email ignored or trashed quicker than not using a professional domain. 

If you are reaching out to someone in a professional capacity (business to business or business to consumer), you want to put your best foot forward. 

Whenever we send emails to people at dofollow, it always comes from an official @dofollow email address. 

The reason a professional, branded email address–whether you’re using G-Suite or something else–is so important is because of what it implies. 

A G-suite address implies that you have gone to the effort of registering your domain with Google, paid for G-suite and are serious about having your communication associated with your business.

You have nothing to hide. 

Contrast that with just a standard free Gmail account (or anything else–Yahoo, Outlook etc.), which is effortless to make and can’t be traced back to your business, and it’s a lot different. 

Link building and standard gmail accounts

It is especially common for scammy link builders to use standard Gmail accounts when sending out cold emails. 

This lets them make their absurd claims about unbelievably cheap high authority backlinks and rapid turn around times and placements on the biggest sites on the web.

While it may not be entirely fair, as a rule of thumb, you should be very skeptical of any cold emails you get that don’t come from branded domains. 

Be vary cautious when opening links in emails in general (especially cold emails), but be doubly cautious when it is a cold email from a generic email address. 

Make your opening sentence catchy and honest

Depending on the screen type your email’s recipient is using to check their inbox, a different preview will appear. 

Regardless, that preview–the first sentence–of your message, along with your subject line, is crucially important to your email open rate. 

After your subject lines, this is what a recipient is going to see and what will entice them to open that email. 

A short synopsis of what you are offering (less than 50 characters), and that peaks the reader’s interest are what’s going to get your email opened and read. 

Successful email marketing campaigns with high click through rates are about giving a recipient enough information that they know what an email is about and presenting it in a way that makes them still want to open it. 

Here is an example of how to set that opening sentence/preview up: 

The reader knows what the intention of the email is–providing an update on an upcoming product. 

The sender has also done a good job of creating some intrigue by not giving away what the upcoming product or service is. 

This is what entices the reader to want to open that email. 

If it had said something specific, the recipient might have had preconceived notions of what that something was and chosen not to open it. 

The contents of the email may very well have been something the recipient would find valuable, but they chose not to open it because they thought they already knew what it was about. 

Personalized subject line

Succinct, personalized subject lines are the best way to get people to open your emails. 

Think of your subject line like your first impression.

This is what the recipient of an email is going to see before anything else and it is what they are going to make a snap judgement on. 

Using the recipient’s name and the name of their business in the subject line is a good way to show them that they are an actual person to you, not just a number. 

While they still might be part of an automated outreach or email campaign, the clik to open rate for personalized emails is almost always going to be higher. 

The subject line in the above image is likely going to get a higher click to open rate than something like 

The subject line in the first image addressed the business owner by name and mentioned the company name. 

The recipient knows that, at least, the person who send them this email went to enough trouble to find out who they were and include the name of their business in the subject line. 

The subject line in the second image, on the other hand, reads like an automated message, which is a major turn off when deciding whether or not to open a cold email. 

If you want to increase your email open and click through rate, personalize the subject line. 

Good outreach and email marketing campaigns have clear and clickable subject lines

A lot of email marketers believe that open rates are positively affected by things like humorous subject lines and shocking subject lines, but in our experience, clear and clickable subject lines tend to work best. 

Your email open rate, by and large, comes down to a) actually getting your message delivered and b) how well and quickly you pique a recipient’s interest. 

If you want someone to click, make sure your subject lines: 

  • Are clear and understandable (that means both the message and the writing style). 
  • Are short–fewer than 50 characters so that they don’t get cut off (especially by mobile devices).
  • Employ language that your target market is going to respond (i.e., relevant to their interests, business, etc.)
  • Include action-oriented language that prompt excitement and urgency
  • Contain a value proposition so the person understands what’s in it for them before even opening the email. 
  • Are timely–letting the recipient know that they have a certain amount of time to act.

Doing all of this consistently is how you will improve your email open rate over time and increase the success of your outreach and email campaigns. 

Avoiding spam words and writing conventions

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in their email subject lines is the use of language that spam filters don’t like. 

Words like “price,” “cash,” “dollars,” “my friend,” “dear,” all caps and extreme punctuation scream spam and your spam filter is set up to catch them. 

Hubspot has gone and put together a great article on the many instances of these words and writing styles to avoid. 

Keep your email’s to the point

Concision is another important variable in your email open rate. 

This might seem counterintuitive, since how could the length of your email determine whether or not someone opens it? 

But too much text in an email can actually trigger a spam filter. 

Not only does having too much text in the body of your email potentially set you up to run into the spam filter, but nobody has time to read a book-length email. 

If you are a link builder trying to set up a guest posting opportunity, for example, a short, to the point email with 2-3 guest post topic options is sufficient. 

You don’t need to spend several paragraphs breaking down each post and why it would be a great fit for the website etc. 

Something like the one below is quite sufficient. 

Something like this is too the point, can be read quickly and isn’t going to trigger spam filters.

Avoid images in your email marketing 

Another way to increase your open rate is by getting rid of images, especially when you are just starting to warm up a new email. 

Most spam filters don’t actually process the images in an email, which means they are liable to get overlooked as potential spam content. 

To play it safe, a lot of spam filters will just automatically flag an email with images–especially a heavy image to text ration–as spam. 

What’s more, some people have their inboxes set up so that images don’t load. If elements of an email are failing to load, this can be another red flag for spam filters. 

It’s a good idea to use images only when absolutely necessary and sparingly. 

Maybe you include an image (of yourself or your logo) in your e-signature. It can be a nice touch, but know that you are running a risk when you do so. 

Include an opt out option

Again, this might seem like something that wouldn’t apply to your email open rate because a person is only going to have the chance to opt out once they’ve already opened an email, right?

Not exactly.

It’s important to include an opt out button in your email marketing campaigns both because it’s the right thing to do and, from an email open rate perspective, it makes it more likely that you don’t end up in spam. 

Spam filters like to see that you have included a way for recipients to stop receiving communication from you. 

Following up on that initial email is important–it can be the difference between a link built (or whatever type of conversion you are after) and a lost opportunity. 

But if you’re going to be bothering people more than once, especially if it’s part of an automated email marketing or outreach campaign, be respectful. 

Your email open rate is up to you 

While you can and should resign yourself to the fact that you are hardly ever going to achieve an open rate over 50 percent when it comes to cold outreach, there is a lot you can do to maximize your potential. 

These include: 

  • Personalized subject lines that are clear and concise
  • Preliminary text that doesn’t get cut off by mobile devices
  • Avoiding spam words to avoid the spam folder
  • Properly warming up a new email address
  • Keeping your emails to the point
  • Letting people opt out
  • Avoiding too many images are all good ways to 
  • Sending emails from a personal email account
  • And using professional email addresses

Do all of these things (and regularly A/B test different iterations) and you can increase that average email open rate. 

If you are interested in working with a full-service link building pros that take care of everything–from prospecting to outreach to link placement–get in touch with dofollow today. 

We’ve gotten really good at cold outreach over the years and know what it takes to get our emails opened, read and engaged with. 

Why Trust Us On SEO

Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.

Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.

While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.

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