Improve newsletter open rates

1. Clean your email list by removing inactive and incorrect email addresses.

Removing inactive email addresses from your list will improve your sender reputation, decrease bounce rates, decrease spam complaints, and help you focus marketing efforts to the people who want your emails. Remove these types of addresses from your newsletter list: Duplicates. Obvious fake emails, like Correct obvious typos, like fix gmial to gmail. Hard bounces, your ESP should automatically do this. Unsubscribes, make sure your ESP does this. Subscribers who have not interacted with your emails in a set time period, for example, six months or a year. Consider sending an email to these subscribers first asking them to re-engage. Manually clean your list or use a list cleaning service like NeverBounce or MailGet.

2. Follow opt-in best practices, including getting clear consent, setting accurate expectations, and sending a welcome email.

In your email opt-in message, clearly outline what content will be and demonstrate what benefits the newsletter has. For example, this Fab Fit Fun email newsletter opt-in clearly states the email frequency, daily, and explains what type of content it will include. Here are some opt-in best practices: Use a double opt-in to confirm their consent. Set clear expectations of email amount and type. Make it easy to unsubscribe or change email preferences. Send a welcome email that demonstrates value for the recipient. For example, a welcome email from Penguin Classics that starts off with a book quote, clearly outlines what to expect from their newsletter, shows a curated selection of books, and asks the recipient to add the email address to their address book.

3. Improve your newsletter content by experimenting with engaging topics and making the theme and styling more cohesive.

One way to consistently increase open rates is by creating newsletter content that people always want to click on. These are ways to improve and experiment with newsletter content: Increase interactivity through videos, surveys, polls, or contests in emails. Write copy that appeals to emotion and curiosity with messaging that fits the target audience, like this You Need A Budget newsletter that’s titled A Riddle, a Question & Goodbye to a $30,000 Debt. Tailor content based off buying history or interests, like this REI newsletter curated for runners. Create a style guide or use a consistent template for all of your newsletters. Send out a survey that asks about content preferences by ranking different topics you have covered before. Collect results, segment audience based on preferences, and send the types of content they prefer. Make your preview text more engaging by teasing what’s inside the email. Verify that your copy is error free by proofreading and using Grammarly.

4. Determine the optimal send time through experimentation and stick to it for consistency.

Every audience and content corresponds to different optimal send times. For example, if your newsletter is about movies, your audience may prefer a Friday newsletter to catch up on movie news over the weekend. Use A/B testing to send emails at different days and times to random subscribers to see which time has the best open rate. Once you find a time that works for your audience, stick to that time and day so that subscribers will expect your email.

5. Improve and test your subject line by following subject line best practices and A/B testing.

Your subject line should be engaging, concise, and honest. Optimize for mobile by keeping it under 60 characters. Set up A/B testing to experiment with subject lines by testing one variable at a time. Consider testing: Length. Personalization. Rephrasing as a statement or a question.  Emoji or punctuation usage. Humor level.

6. Use audience segmentation to deliver relevant content with targeted messaging to the appropriate people.

For example, if you start a re-engagement campaign to win back inactive subscribers, only send that email to people who haven’t opened your newsletters in over six months. These are segment options, for example: Time on email list. Email engagement, for example, if they’ve opened an email from you in the last month. Demographics. Preferences. Buyer’s journey stage. Transactional history.

7. Experiment with email personalization, including sender name, recipient's name, and curated content.

Make your content more relevant and personalized when you: Include the recipient name in the subject line: For example, Julia, find out what’s in season this May. Collect their name during email opt-in. Use a unique sender name that’s not your company name: For example, Mia from Coschedule which implies it’s from a real person at Coschedule or Taco from Trello which humorously suggests their mascot sent the email. Send curated content, based on behavior: for example, content could be a monthly roundup of articles they may like based on which links they have clicked on before or a newsletter with their horoscope information based on their birthdate.

8. Measure effectiveness by comparing your new open rates to past open rates. Your average newsletter open rate should trend upward.

Throughout experimentation, your individual email open rates may temporarily increase or decrease.

9. Update or create a pre-send checklist that includes the methods that consistently improve open rates.

For example, if using a sender name that is not your company name performed well in A/B testing, add Update sender name to [desired name] to your pre-send checklist.