With over 2.5 billion email users worldwide (Source: Statista), creating effective email content is not only essential, but increasingly competitive. Follow our four key best practices and ensure your message is not only received, but opened up too.

4 Ways to Boost Your Open Rates


1. Subject Line – Keep It Short and Snazzy

Most people’s decision to open a message or delete it forever hinges on the subject line. Messages with long subject lines tend to get deleted – people glaze over and just want to make all of those tedious letters disappear. In fact, the shorter the subject line, the more likely people are to open your message.

Note that long subject lines can even cut off (see below)

Go for a hook, something out of the ordinary, like a question, ironic/controversial statement or quick phrase. Or mention the recipient's location in the subject line. "Who's Hungry in Albuquerque?"

For more tips on how to craft the right subject line, and stats on what works and doesn't, check out an excellent infographic from Litmus


2. First Line – Get to the Point

Carefully crafting the first line or two of your email is crucial to the fate of your message. Many email programs display the first few lines, so it’s not just your subject line that must entice the reader. Either go straight to the point (in one sentence, what’s the email about?) or drop in a shocking statistic or statement.

DO NOT just embed an image in the email. In the absence of text, your first line displayed will skip to the automatically generated “if you would like to unsubscribe from this email” or “Can’t see this message? Click to view in a browser,” or some other generic note that will get your message sent to the trash before you can say “Scroll down.”

Images are great to include – usually centered in the body of the email – but not in place of text.

So keep this in mind and ALWAYS test your email in several email services before actually sending it, to see what text is visible.

One great tool to help make a visual splash is Email on Acid.


3. Sender – Who Are You?

Some organizations, hoping for a more personal touch, have taken to sending messages from staff names. While this may work well in some cases where supporters actually know the sender, in other cases it just falls flat and creates noise.

If you don’t have strong personal relationships with most of your supporters – meaning you regularly email them individually or talk to them on the phone – avoid this tactic. Just include your organization name in the “From” field, keep it simple, and reinforce your brand recognition.


4. Only Send If You Have Something Great to Say

Some organizations make the mistake of committing to sending an e-newsletter every single month, rain or shine. But if one month you send a message without interesting content, chances are your open rate next time around will plummet.

Producing quality content always overrides scheduling.

Now that you've gotten people to open your email, see how to grow your email list.