This autumn our newsletter open rate has risen from around 30% to more than 40% – a result, which could be considered an achievement for any organization. Us being us, we have decided to share our insights with the community.
Reading time: 2-3 minutes
How to increase the email open rate?
Naturally, your decision whether to open an email depends on two things mostly:
- Who is sending the email?
- What is the subject?
Hence, to increase the email open rate, you need to work on both variables.
Let us first talk about the sender. Are people more likely to open something from an organisation (e.g. Active Youth) or a person (e.g. Sophia)? Or perhaps stating your position at the organisation (e.g. Manager at Active Youth) makes sense? How about giving both your name and the organisation you represent (e.g. Sophia from Active Youth)?
To be sure, the results here may vary across the sectors. Yet, our experience in the NGO emailing shows that it is best to state both your name and the organisation represented: e.g. Sophia from Active Youth. That is, such sender had the highest open rate.
Why? The answer is not based on hard scientific evidence, but it seems that people get to a more personal level when seeing a name of someone. For instance, this is the reason why salespeople always state their name when trying to sell something to you. Whereas, showing that you belong to an organisation gives you more credibility, i.e. you look less like a spam.
How to rock emails’ subject lines?
At the end of the summer of 2020 we did an analysis of our subject lines to see which of them had the highest open rates. What we have realised is that all the best subject lines had similar features:
- they were short (4 to 6 words)
- had a clear value offer for the reader
- they’ve had either ⭐ (which creates association with starred/important emails – a feature of Gmail) and/or some related emoji at the end (e.g. ✈️ if your email is going to be related to travel)
Informed by the above findings, we have switched to writing subject lines that fit the criteria. I.e. are both short and enticing. The results speak for themselves:
Note: some words in subject lines might be considered as spam (e.g. “WIN”, “Lottery”, “Prize”) by email service providers. Thus, be careful not to overdo it.
How to keep your email audience loyal?
Even though having perfected the sender and the subject line is important, that is not enough. To keep your readers coming back, you will have to pay attention to your main content too. This is what we do each time we craft a newsletter:
- Every newsletter has the same layout, little text, and a smart number of high-quality pictures
- The content is a mix of information, education & offers
Why? Email readers do not have much time, i.e. they skim through content (and that is at best). Thus, you need to keep the layout simple and highly anticipated. In other words, do not make your users learn where is what every time they open your email. Surely, the usefulness of stuff / resources provided plays a big role too. I.e. the user needs to get some benefit out of your email.
🥇 Emailing rule #1: an email that does not give anything to the reader and/or is frustrating to read is better kept unsent.
Lastly, always keep an eye on the emailing statistics (see below on how to do that) and make decisions accordingly.
Example of NGO emailing / newsletters
Currently, Active Youth is mailing two regular newsletters:
- Biweekly newsletter for the wider audience and youth in particular (in Lithuanian)
- Quarterly newsletter created for NGOs, policymakers, businesses, and other stakeholders (in English)
As you can see, our two regular newsletters are targeted at different target groups. The biweekly Lithuanian newsletter is for everyone who is keen to take part in youth exchanges, local events, initiatives and similar.
On the other hand, the quarterly English newsletter is suited for organisations, policymakers and businesses who are interested in learning the latest developments from the field.
Feel free to subscribe to whichever by clicking on the links above.
What emailing tools to use?
Our preferred email marketing tool is MailerLite. It has a freemium model and allows you to:
- build beautiful and effective emails in an user-friendly way (drag and drop)
- track how many people have opened your email. clicked on your links and buttons, etc.
- collect subscribers, see the percentage of active readers, etc.
- make A/B tests for our subject lines, senders, content, etc.
- and much more
Of course, there are more emaling tools in the market. So it is up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Why newsletters are important for non-profits?
To sum up, regular newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your community by offering them extra value. With the help of email marketing tools like MailerLite, you can keep an eye on what works and what does not. By following the reading patterns and getting to know your readers, you can get a better insight into what to do next / improve your services.
More useful resources for NGOs
Active Youth Association offers a range of useful resources and insights at no cost. Interested? Then check them out: