6 Clever Newsletter Tips To Get More People To Open Your Emails

Looking for newsletter tips to increase your open rate? Want more people to open your newsletters? My open rate is 15% higher than industry average - Click through to find out how I do it!

“Better male health in the bedroom starting tonight!!!” Deleted.
“Circling back to see if you wanted to share my infographic?” Blocked.

I’m scrolling through my inbox deleting and blocking, my mind honed to a sharp, judgmental edge. Is there the slightest hint of spam or unsolicited pitching? YOU ARE DEAD TO ME.

And there, tucked between the Nigerian princes and the penis pills, is this subject line:

?? I’m so excited for you! ??

Whaaaat? Why are you excited for me? What’s happening with these celebration horns? Is something awesome happening in my inbox right now? Did I win something? Let me just fall all over myself to open this email right now!

Getting your subscribers to actually open your emails is both a science and an art. According to Mailchimp, email open rates range from 19 – 25%. My open rates are 38% – 65% <- that’s an un-humble brag in case you were wondering. Here are all my best newsletter tips!

6 Clever Newsletter Tips To Get More People To Open Your Emails

1. Give them something awesome and free

In marketing speak we call these opt-ins, content upgrades, or lead magnets. Whatever you want to call them, they’re a) awesome b) effective.

When we offer our readers something helpful and awesome in exchange for their email address, we’re starting the relationship on the right foot. We’re essentially saying “Hello! I am a source of helpful information! I know what I’m talking about! When you see an email from me you can expect it to be something great!”

Related: you can access my giant library of freebies here.

2. Tell them what to expect from you

Follow up that freebie-delivering email with a ‘What you can expect from me’ email, But with a better subject line. Obviously.

How often will you be emailing them? Which topics will you cover? Will you ever try to sell them stuff? Who is most likely to benefit from your newsletters? Small business owners? Busy parents? Solo travelers?

When you’re honest and set expectations, you’re helping your readers know, like, and trust you. And when people know, like, and trust you they’re a lot more likely to hire you, buy things from you, and forward your work to their friends.

You can see my (rather long) ‘What you can expect’ email when you sign up here.

3. Ask your subscribers a specific question at the end of your emails

I end my ‘what to expect’ email by saying “What – specifically – are you struggling with right now? Click reply and tell me.”

And then to show I’m really serious, I add a P.S. that says, “No. Seriously. Click reply and tell me what you’re struggling with these days. If I know how to help, I will!”

And, lo, there is a method to this madness.

  1. These personal interactions establish and strengthen your relationship with your subscribers
  2. It helps them view you as a trusted friend
  3. When Gmail ‘sees’ two email addresses communicating with each other, it moves your stuff out of the Promotions folder and into the Primary folder

4. (Probably) email your list more frequently

If you’re emailing your list twice a week already, you can go ahead and ignore me. But I’d hazard the guess that most of your aren’t. Many of my clients aren’t. “Send out that newsletter more!” is a soapbox I climb atop pretty regularly.

When we only email our list once a month, it’s easy for subscribers to forget who we are and why they invited us into their inbox in the first place.

Don’t have anything to send them? Pull something from your archives! If you have a few hundred previously published posts, it’s unlikely your subscribers are intimately familiar with all of them. Pull one out that’s pertinent to this time of year – roadtrips? how to travel with friends? – create a newsletter-sized version and send it out!

5. A/B split test your subject lines

Sounds techy and intimidating, doesn’t it? All it really means is “Write two subject lines and see which one gets opened more frequently.”

You write two subject lines and your platform will send out newsletters to about 20% of your list. It’ll test which subject line gets more opens and after a few hours, it’ll send out emails to the remaining 80% of your subscribers with the ‘winning’ subject line. Really, the whole thing takes less than a minute and it’s oddly gratifying.

Related: I switched from Mailchimp to ConvertKit and I looooove it. Here’s why.

6. Try using emoji in your subject lines

My open rate is 15% higher than industry average and I think this is partially due to my black belt-level subject line emoji use <- BRAG.

Picture your inbox. Row after row of meeting invites and purchase confirmations and then – like a needle in a haystack – a squirrel emoji. Don’t you want to click on the squirrel emoji? And if you don’t want to click on a squirrel emoji why are you dead on the inside?

Of course, I’m pretty irreverent so squirrel emoji (and crystal ball emoji and strong arm emoji) are all in a day’s work for me. But even if you write about Serious Things, there are plenty of emoji you can use to set your emails apart. A blue arrow. A checkmark. A laptop.

I get all my emoji here.

But I want to hear from you! If you have a particularly high open rate on your newsletters – how did you achieve that? Tell us in the comments so we can learn from you!

P.S. Everything I use + recommend to run my business

photos by Mathyas Kurmann and Giulia Bertelli // cc

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  1. Lauren Zink

    OMG, #6 had me in that silent laughter state where the only noise you hear is wheezing

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Squirrel emoji are important! 😉

  2. Sandra Pawula

    These are so helpful! I love getting your emails because they actually have helpful content, not just fluff. My open rate runs around 40%, which I think is pretty good. But I’m going to definitely try the emojis, OF COURSE 🙂 Cause why not be better!

  3. Jones Around The World

    I’m focusing more on my emails now and this will definitely come in handy. Thanks so much

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