How to Improve Your Email Newsletter Open Rates?

How to Improve Your Email Newsletter Open Rates?

Are your newsletter open rates simply dismal?

While a normal ‘open rate’ is classed as 20-30% [Source: MailChimp], this can vary greatly, dependant on your list, your content, the frequency of your campaigns and how fatigued your recipients are.


Here is a list of the most common causes of below-average open performance and what you can do to make improvements:

Ineffective Email Subject Line

The subject line of the email you send out is extremely important to the overall success of your campaign. It needs to be both compelling and relevant to every one of your recipients.

Take your time writing your subject line, rather than adding it quickly, just before you click send. If your email platform allows it, consider A/B testing, to try out different subject lines and monitor which email has a higher open rate.

Remember: Your newsletter recipients get hundreds of emails a day. What can you do to make sure they open yours?

Poor Timing

Emailing at the wrong time or on the wrong day can seriously affect the newsletter open rates.

Again, if your email platform allows it, try an A/B split, sending your campaign to Group A and Group B on different days or times, to see what works best.

If you’re promoting a weekend event, you might get better results with a Thursday campaign than a Monday campaign. If you’re emailing business recipients, avoid sending out in the morning and send just after people have deleted their early-morning spam.

Blocked Images

Blocked images are the bain of every email campaign.

While your recipients are opening your emails, their email applications may be blocking the images you’ve included, due to privacy settings.  Unfortunately, this means that your tracking images are also being blocked, thereby lowering your open rates — If you’re getting plenty of clicks on the links in your email, but a low open rate, you’ll know recipients are not displaying your images.

As some email applications will turn images on by default, if the sender is in the address book, it’s worth placing a line of text near the top of your email, asking people to “add our email address to your address book.” You should also place this message on your opt-in confirmation screen, and all welcome emails that you send.

Important: If you’re using just one big image for your campaign, and images are blocked, you’ll see a lower open rate as a result!

List Fatigue

List fatigue can occur when you’re sending your campaigns too frequently and your list becomes tired of hearing from you. The answer is simply to send emails a little less often, or offer a choice of frequency upon signup to your list e.g. daily emails / weekly digest.

Poor List Quality

If you’re using an old list, the chances are a lot of the addresses have probably ‘gone bad’. The recipient may have changed ISP, changed job or just started using a new email provider. In a lot of cases the address may not be bouncing, so it remains in your list as dead wood.

If you’ve made the mistake of purchasing or renting a list, you’re emailing people who probably have little interest in what you have to say, who are probably flagging your emails as spam, and who may also be reporting you as a spammer. Avoid buying or renting lists at all costs.

Your Content is Not Worthy!

People get so much email on a daily basis, so why should they read yours? People want timely, compelling, useful content. If they don’t get it, they’ll hit delete.

Spam Filters

If spam filters are mistakenly routing your emails into junk folders you need to act!

Spam filters check the content of your email to determine if what you’ve sent is spam. Make sure to write your email content with spam filters in mind.

There are so many factors that spam filters look for, however many email newsletter platforms can check the content of your email against the various spam criteria, before your email goes out. This means you can rewrite/amend your email if necessary.

A general rule of thumb is to avoid spammy phrases, capital letters and exclamation marks, especially in your email subject line. “MAKE MONEY TODAY $$$ !!!”, or “LIMITED TIME VIAGRA OFFER!” is probably a bad thing . . .



The one thing that guarantees a consistently high open rate is relevant, well written content. Start slow, and get used to the process, then move up a gear only when you’re ready.

If you have a blog or content website, use this as a source of content for your newsletter, perhaps including just the summary / teaser with a link back for the full post or article.

Try to get your newsletter out on a regular (but not too regular!) basis – either every week, fortnight, month, or quarter. Make sure you check your open rates, cancellation rates and click rates and tweak accordingly.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought! Anything i’ve missed out, or have your own experiences? Leave a comment below . . .

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