7 Quick Steps to a Better Newsletter Open Rate

Newsletter open rate can be a painful metric to face. When you’re hustling to come up with interesting topics, create killer content, and assemble your favorite articles from around the web, nothing stings worse than sending an email that nobody reads.

But it isn’t just personal: open rates are an important measure of engagement that advertisers look for. If nobody’s opening your email, you can bet that advertisers won’t be interested in working with you or paying premium rates.

That’s why we’ve put together a few quick steps you can take to improve your open rates. Ready to take action? Let’s jump in.

1. Only Send Emails to Opted-In Readers

This first step might seem pretty obvious, but it’s probably the most important one for making sure your email engagement metrics stay high. You should only ever send emails to reader who have indicated that they want to hear from you.

This means that they’ve opted in on your website (through an opt in box like Leadpages or Sumo), through a giveaway that makes it clear that you’re adding them to your list, or personally agreeing to receive messages from you.

If you send emails to readers who haven’t asked for them, your newsletter open rate will be low and you’re likely to be marked as spam, hurting your sender reputation for the long run. Plus, with changing GDPR legislation, you could face legal repercussions as well.

In short, be sure your list is full of readers who want to hear from you and you’ll be set.

2. Send Lead Magnets Via Email

Lead magnets are a great method for growing your email list. Not only do you start of a relationship with a subscriber on the right foot (by giving them something awesome for free), but you also can grow your list quickly and easily.

If you connect readers to a download link right away after they give you their email address, though, you’re missing out on an opportunity. Instead, try changing your system so that you email a lead magnet to your new subscriber after they opt-in.

That way, they’ll be incentivized to provide a legitimate email address that they actually check often, instead of a fake email or throwaway email address. Your open rates will rise since your list will be full of legitimate subscribers.

3. Clean Your Email List

Whether it’s because they simply aren’t interested anymore, they change email addresses, or they leave a particular job, some of your subscribers are eventually going to stop reading your emails.

While this is a normal part of having an email list—lists decay at a rate of about 22 percent each year, according to Hubspot—it will hurt your  newsletter open rate if you do nothing about it.

That’s why it’s important to run a list pruning campaign to clean up your email list. By removing the dead weight subscribers that will just never open, you’ll be able to see the actual engagement metrics of your subscribers.

4. Test Subject Lines Until You Nail It

Now that you have a clean list operating with above-board practices, it’s time to turn to the content of your actual email. And when it comes to open rates, that means subject lines.

If your open rates aren’t where you want them to be, the easiest way to change that is by coming up with excellent subject lines. Generally, the best rule of thumb is to keep subject lines short, urgent, and inspiring curiosity.

Try mentioning what’s inside without giving too much away. Or, ask a question that will leave your readers wanting more. Remember, your subject line is your first impression, so be sure to spend some time testing and perfecting what works best for your audience.

5. Personalize Your Subject Lines

One subject line method to try? Personalization. Campaign Monitor found in one study that emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened.

Want to boost your newsletter open rate that much? The easiest way to do so is to collect reader’s first names when they subscribe in the first place. Then, you can occasionally sprinkle them in your subject lines to pique their interest.

If you know other information about your subscribers, like business size, or languages they code in, you can also utilize that information in your subject lines to get readers curious about what’s inside.

No matter what information you use, when readers get a sense that what’s inside is just for them, they’re going to want to open and learn more.

6. Always Use the Same Sender Name

When someone knocks on the door, the first thing you do is probably ask “who’s there?” Your readers are no different—they want to know who they’re giving their time and energy to before they’ll decide to open your email.

According to another Campaign Monitor study, 68 percent of Americans say they decide whether to open and email based on the sender name.

Try creating a sender name that is a balance between personal and branded—here at Paved, I use “Darcy at Paved” as my sender name to let readers know that I’m a real person behind the Paved brand. Once you find one that works, be sure to keep it consistent so that readers don’t get confused and delete your emails by mistake.

7. Use Your Preview Text

Subscribers make a decision in an instant whether to open or delete your email, and you have very little space to make your case for an open. That’s why every little word matters when you’re trying to boost your open rates—including preview text.

By default, preview text is just that: a preview of the email, pulled from somewhere in the body of your email. But you can change your preview text in your email service provider to get your open rates just a little bit higher.

Try playing with the relationship between the subject line and preview text, making the preview a continuation of the subject line. Or, try including a little extra sneak peek in the preview, or a cute note to readers to open up. Again, this is an important area to test and find what works for your audience.

Watch Your Newsletter Open Rate Climb

Now that you’ve taken these 7 quick steps, you’ll be able to watch your newsletter open rates rise, your audience become more engaged, and your value to advertisers blossom. If you want to continue the engagement metrics party, stay tuned—next week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite hacks for getting your click rates up, too.

In the meantime, it’s a good time to think about signing up for Paved. Just attach your email service provider to your Paved profile and we’ll create a custom media kit right on your profile, showing off your newly stellar open rates, demographics and more. Plus, advertisers will come to you and you’ll get paid the same day you send. Sign up for Paved to see how easy email advertising can be.