The emission rate of a point dipole can be strongly increased in the presence of a well-designed optical antenna. Yet, optical antenna design is largely based on radio-frequency rules, ignoring, e.g., Ohmic losses and non-negligible field penetration in metals at optical frequencies. Here, we combine reciprocity and Poynting’s theorem to derive a set of optical-frequency antenna design rules for benchmarking and optimizing the performance of optical antennas driven by single quantum emitters. Based on these findings a novel plasmonic cavity antenna design is presented exhibiting a considerably improved performance compared to a reference two-wire antenna. Our work will be useful for the design of high-performance optical antennas and nanoresonators for diverse applications ranging from quantum optics to antenna-enhanced single-emitter spectroscopy and sensing.