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Three Writing Tips to Increase Your Email Open Rate

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Your email open rate measures the number of people that view (“open”) your electronic message. It’s expressed as a percentage. The open rate is configured by the number of people who view an email divided by the number you sent (minus bounces.)

3 writing tips to increase your email open rate with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

The rate is measured through a bit of embedded HTML code that requests a tiny, invisible image from web servers. When the email is opened, the server meets the request (it sends the tiny, invisible image to the reader) and then records that download as an open.

Obviously, the higher the open rate for your email campaign, the better. The more people that read your email campaign the more you will engage readers in your cause.

How good is good? As of 2016, email marketing has saturated the market. The average open rate is 18%. That means your email has less than a 1 in 5 chance of getting opened.

Boosting Your Email Open Rate is a Good Idea

These days, email has become an essential in communicating. But readers can suffer from email fatigue.

I know I do. When I log on to your email and see 74 new messages in my Inbox, I'm looking for any excuse to purge.

My right pinkey nearly gets cramped hitting “Delete.”

Same goes for your readers. They need a good reason to open up your email and read it.

Give it to them. Use these three tips to entice more readers to click and read.

Three Writing Tips to Help Your Readers Click "Open"

1. Send from a person, not an organization

Readers are more likely to open and read if they recognize the sender’s name or address. Use the name they most easily identify. When possible, be personal and send from an individual’s name, rather than the name of an organization. (And make sure to use a “confirm” message to encourage your partners and prospects to white list you.)

2. Offer specifics in the subject line (not generics)

Aren’t you more likely to open an email with a compelling subject line on a topic that’s particularly relevant to you? A generic subject line like “ABC Animal Shelter Newsletter” entices recipients less, especially when the title is repeated in successive communications. To busy recipients, recurrent subject lines are “same old, same old.” Readers are lured with what’s in it for them, such as, “This Saturday, adopt a pet at no cost.”

3. Write helpful content (not a sales pitch)

At least half of emails - some studies say up to 80% - are promotional over informational. People don’t like to be “sold.”  Valuable content earns a reader's trust. What rouses recipients’ curiosity or interest as it relates to your mission? What do they need? What helpful ideas or tips can you provide that are meaningful? When you focus on serving your audience and meeting their needs rather than yours, they’ll click “open” more often.

Get a free downloadable checklist for writing better email subject lines.

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