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How to get more people to open your newsletter

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Email marketing now forms an integral part of one’s marketing strategy. It is used as a cost effective method to reach out to hundreds/thousands of customers easily. Modern contact management software has helped with automating the process and making it more targeted by allowing marketing strategists to create specified lists of recipients. However, email marketing also has high rate of failure in engaging target audience


email marketing

Email marketing now forms an integral part of one’s marketing strategy. It is used as a cost effective method to reach out to hundreds/thousands of customers easily. Modern contact management software has helped with automating the process and making it more targeted by allowing marketing strategists to create specified lists of recipients. However, email marketing also has high rate of failure in engaging target audience. On an average, a recipient today receives more than hundred emails a day and among those quite a few go unopened. It is therefore very important that your newsletter creates the impression that is expected of it. When the content inside the mail is crucial it is the title that decides whether the user would open it or not. A recent study on impact of effective title on readers conducted by MailChimp, leading email marketing service provider, has revealed some interesting facts. The study focused on finding words that when included in titles create greater impact and improve effectiveness of the campaign.

Who’s nailing newsletters right now?


email marketing

Takeaways have really got the best possible platform to gain custom. In some cases you can go from receiving your newsletter usually with a special promo to having your tongue skin removed from the scoulding hot pizza that looks a lot smaller and less well presented than the one in the photo but alas you have been feed with minimal movement and requiring no dishes to clean. The use of scrumptious imagery and eye catching text showing you just how much money you can save. Dominos 2 4 1 offers are pretty much known world wide and it has email newsletters to thank for its stardom. With a subject of” SPECIAL DEALS FROM DOMINOS”yes it’s not the most imaginative subject but they have the luxury of a huge brand awareness and yummy food photography.


email marketing

Amazon offers a personalized shopping experience really second to none. Using all the information you with out thinking give them from through your order history it’s able to give you a newsletter based around what you have purchased in the past and even what supplies after a few months of ownership you may need. Buy a printer on amazon and a few weeks later your bound to be delievered a newsletter linking you to the exact print cartridges for your printer. It’s particularly great at keeping up with technology if I buy a games console via amazon in the past it’s likely going to tell me about the ps4 and Xbox one just released. Notice how the personalization is immediate and friendly with the “Hi Matt”


email marketing

Like the Picasso of all that it is modern day design and advertising Apple delivers yet again with their newsletter. The template for these remains very unchanged between each newsletter making them instantly recognizable however they take enough time to make subtle little touches around all the main shopping holidays like valentines day be some ipod touches arranged into a heart shape, or some Christmas wrapping round their latest products. Also notice the very positive subject.

Email Marketing: CAPITALIZE straight away?


Generally using capitals online is viewed as aggressive especially on forums, instant chat etc but as you see from this inbox you can use it effectively to draw the users eye into specific details. Looking at the inbox above my eyes first drawn to YOTEL, Adobe Education and then Photoshop. The later are probably more cause Photoshop interests me so my brain is drawn to it. YOTEL being capitalised instantly grabs my attention. Strangely when I asked one of my co-workers he said that his first was Youtube, second Phil Morse and then Adobe Education. His reaction to YOTEL was that it looked like spam, isn’t that interesting? It’s not one set rule all the time so it pays to ask a few people when thinking how you are going set out your emails. A few other things worth considering are when and where and when its appropriate to be formal with clients. If a company deals in sportwear then you can approach with casual wordings as lesuriely as the products you sell. However if your company offers servics such as medical then I’d have little time for a optical company with a newsletter subject of ” Have you seen our latest offers on glasses? NO! We’re surprised you can see anything. ”

Use your stats

mailchimp newsletter stats

Say your running an e-commerce site you have very successful sales and site traffic for the range of headphones for those that love to listen to music while they work. Of course you should capitalize on theses sales. On the other side of things you have some clapping hand hats that are cluttering up your stockroom and barely get any sales. This gives you evidence that your users have a lot more interest in headphones than they do in clapping hand hats. How does this affect your newsletter? Well if you target all your attentions on highlighting a product only interested by a minority a lot more people are likely to hit delete and not even make it to the bottom of the newsletter where you put all your amazing headphone deals. If you think of your newsletter as window dressing for your site. Most people only make it to the back of a shop after they’ve been lured in by whats displayed in the windows. This doesn’t mean you ignore the clapping hats but you can perhaps feature them in a small thumbnail or even add them as a free gift with any online purchases within specific dates.

Here is a brief discussion on the findings of that report that will help improving performance of your email campaign.

A great pair of titles

pear cartoon "we make a great pear"

The title of an email is like the cover of a book. Like most readers, most recipients of an email will decide about opening the mail by judging it’s title and that is why, it is so important. A normal recipient more often than not only scans the title to decide whether the mail content is pertaining to his requirement. You can even apply how most people think to your titles. A man will likely read this title slightly differently to a woman would. To be effective a title just needs to trigger some sort of activity in the brain. If your stuck for ideas for titles even try out some word association games in the office to see where peoples thoughts are likely to react best. I guarantee you’ll get some laughs as people blurt out the strangest responses.

The first rule of powerful email campaigning demands personalisation of email title with recipient’s name. Users tend to recognise their first name more easily than generalised or formal salutation. It creates a sense of belonging or attachment. Often these emails also contain highly personalised content. Probably one of my favourite companies that I would never delete an email without checking out is amazon.com. They nail personalisation yes they have all my order history to pull data from to know where my interests lay but thats why it works. I may only occasionally buy something via their emails but the content is always relevant.

Email Marketing – Reward loyalty

eshak reader discountOf course signing up to your newsletter doesn’t mean people won’t go elsewhere but it does mean they know about you. Instantly show potential clients & customers to let them see that by choosing your site or service they can receive a free gift or discount. People really pick up on words like “free”, “discount”, “members”, “exclusive” you only have to look at the way that services like “groupon”, “vouchercode” have been able to flourish online for the companies featured in their daily newsletters.

Email Marketing – Give your site the kiss of life

kiss of life

Even with a title like “Give your site the kiss of life” it doesn’t instantly give you an indication to what this paragraph is about but likely triggers enough intrique to make you want to read further into the newsletter. To avoid leaving you mystified it would be perfect for a newsletter giving tips on blacklisted websites and then give links for a discounted price for our Online Marketing or e-commerce courses exclusive for newsletter subscribers only. Compare this words like reminders and cancellation which are negative. I know when I see the word reminders or cancellation it makes me think of a bill being due or a flight being cancelled not something i’d want to read beyond one or two lines. Positive words intrigue and therefore engage people. Give your titles a bit of wrapping if your having a sale don’t just call it “sale” call it something exciting like “As temperatures plummet so do our winter sale prices”

Word choice is the most important factor. Relevant enough to be personal but not so specifically tunnel focussed as to remove demographics needlessly. Leave growth potential for interest or linking into other sectors, services or products.

For Example:

“50 % off teenagers rucksacks”

Yes this would attract anyone looking for rucksack for a teenager but would it be better to replace it with something that has potential to draw in more attention.Tells me they have rucksacks but I want a holdall so i’d  wouldn’t bother looking any further.

“50% off our slick new look back to school gear”

Tells me they have a range of back to school gear which is likely to include rucksacks its enough to make me click and at least have a look vs the first subject which makes me right them off as having holdalls discounted.


Email Marketing – Those less fortunate

give as you live charity donation

Charity campaigns face a much harder challenge in gaining a readers or even viewers interest. It’s not that the world isn’t aware of poverty, starvation etc but bringing it to a person with the right level of impact combined with it not being upsetting to view. Charities have to target the humanity of people enough to make them forget that in a materialistic sense they receive nothing. It’s just the world we live in that words really need to trigger emotions to get beyond the basic fact that they need your money. Using words like helping, fundraising, donate and charity give the sense that by helping their charity your are becoming part of an ongoing effort to improve lives for others. If instead it  said ‘we need your money now” despite it essentially being the truth it removes all humanity and just makes it sound like a financial transaction. I can’t stress enough how instantly asking for money on sites is a sure way to make people not want to give anything. The newsletter for “give as you live” above is very clever as it introduces the subject as shopping which gains interest and then gently gives the warm fuzzy feeling message that people can actually do good for others by simply shopping.

Email Marketing – Here’s a tip

dropbox newsletter

Dropbox takes a dull subject of data storages and with their hand drawn illustrations and friendly endearing phrasing they create. Probably around once a month they send out newsletters and crucially today for example they sent me the email above. Using your newsletter as a way to gently remind customers your still around to help them out or even up date them on a new feature.

Email Marketing – Staying out the junk

mailchimp newletter service

Online marketing has become so competitive that one needs to be extra careful in devising their email marketing strategy. As an integral part of marketing portfolio email can be used effectively to impact larger audience base when devised and targeted to benefit customers. With services like mailchimp which let you track your email campaigns in a way you can very quickly see which type of newsletter content and titles work best for you. Creating effective newsletters can take time so as with most things web site related like ux design and SEO, doing your research will increase awareness, site, traffic and financial rewards. It’s so easy to give users the option of personalised newsletters that mean if it’s a man who doesn’t need to know about women s clothes offers he only receives offers relating to male clothing.

asos summer sale link image

This brings me to another interesting point clever use of images and linking in newsletters. You have a male subscriber that has only ever bought male clothes but you have a online sales across both genders. Do you have a large image which when clicked takes them to your sales page with both genders clothing or do you send them straight to the mens. I’d be inclined to have a sales banner exactly the same for male and female subscribers on the email which takes you to everything and then in the featured items below its specific to mens clothing. Especially around Christmas something in your sales section may catch his/her eye as they struggle for their partners christmas gift. My brother bought his wife a kitchen sink via an email he’d received from a hardware store about electric drills last year. Sometimes you just can’t factor in that sort of thought process when creating your newsletters. Pleased to report he didn’t require any surgery to have the kitchen tap removed from his person.

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