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You’ve spent ages crafting your email, you’re positive it’s got all the necessary ingredients, and paints your organization and issue in just the right light, but then you send it out and it’s another disappointing open rate? Why?

Last week we told you how working your subject line improves open rates, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg you can uncover to get you audience engaging with your communications.

Read on for 9 tips that will have your advocates refreshing their phones in the hopes of an email from you or watch our FREE webinar on Advocacy Copywriting 101. And don’t forget to sign up for all our other great webinars or listen to our past ones while you’re there!

Your Friendly “From”

As you’ve probably deduced, your friendly “from” is just who the email is coming from. Seeing that with a person’s name, rather than an organization, helps the chances of getting your email opened. Take the example of The Girl Scouts of Connecticut, who tested using their CEO’s name as the “from” instead of their standard Girl Scouts of Connecticut. The result was an increase from 21% to 36% in their open rates.

The Pre-header Text

You can further up your open rates chances by using the valuable pre-header text to make your case to the reader. Pre-header text is simply the opening of the body copy of your email, the beginning of which can often be seen in your inbox. That’s particularly true on cellphones where you’ll see up to 20 words of text below the “from” and subject lines. This is a great place to give someone an extra incentive to open the email, with more information that you couldn’t fit on the subject line.




Subject Lines Still Rule

Try to stay within 40 characters or less with your subject lines and the vast majority of email clients will be able to see them on mobile.

The Best Email Subject Lines (Tips from the experts that have analyzed 138 million of them)

Think about the most effective words that can support your friendly from and use that. Likewise with your pre-header text. Consider it your one liner elevator speech. Anything more belongs further down the body of the email.

Make Your Subject Lines Personal

Just like with the friendly “from”, personalizing and sending a request, or asking a question, can work in subject lines, too. People still want to hear about what’s relevant to them, so any statistic you have on record that concerns them will help your open rates. After examining literally millions of emails, Informz, an email marketing and automation solutions company found some of these to be highly effective for their clients.

“First Name” 2 Steps and You’re back (34% open rate)

Information Request for “Company Name” (60% open rate)

Your Membership has an expiration date of “DD/MM/YYYY” (52% open rate)

Help “Company Name” Avoid Violations. Join us for tomorrow’s audio call (56% open rate)

Give Thanks!

Who doesn’t like an occasional pat on the back? Even a virtual one in the subject line can energize your audience engagement and increase open rates. Here are some examples Informz found worked well.

“Thank you for all you do” (65% open rate)

“A Heartfelt Thank You” (63% open rate)

“Than you for your outstanding support!” (57% open rate)

“Thank You for Making a Difference” (53% open rate)

But what if you’ve nothing immediate to say thank you for? Maybe your issue is still grinding through Congress and your advocates took action on your behalf months ago?

Then, keep it real and thank them for staying the course with you.

“Joe Blogs, thank you for hanging in there with us!”

Lighten Up

Showing a little bit of humor can make a huge difference to open rates because it grabs attention. Don’t presume that because your subject is serious, there isn’t a way of injecting some chuckles. If you’re nervous, do an A/B test, or send it to just a subset of your email list to see what the response will be.

For most readers it’s a refreshing change to see a playful communication in ordinary business emails,  particularly if it comes from an organization they won’t normally expect humor from.

Test With a 10-10-80 Split

If you’re not testing, you’re not learning. Traditional A/B testing halves the audience into two groups of 50% in each, giving one half one subject line, and the other half a different subject line, and then seeing which one worked best in terms of open rates.

But a more sophisticated way of testing is to break out two groups of 10%, where one group gets one subject line, and the other 10% gets a different one. When you’ve concluded which line worked best, you can send that one to the remaining 80% on your list.

Also test by time and date sent, to see if there’s an improvement in open rates at certain times of the day or days of the week.

They’ve Opened It. Now What?

Once you’ve got your advocate or member to open the email, the next step is to keep them reading, so get to your point fast. You can do this by being purposeful and direct, and making your call to action easy to interact with. Spend some time considering how it looks to the reader? Are you using buttons rather than hyperlinked text, which are more likely to draw a further click. Could you add a personalization code? Is there a postscript included? That can also be a good place to inject humor.

A Picture (Still) Tells a 1,000 Words

Use images to tell your story in the email. It could be a picture that helps your audience imagine themselves in that situation, or drives home the issue they’re advocating for. Pictures help stir emotions and help your open and click through rates.

Make sure the image is one big hyperlink that’s a clickable call to action, so it drives your reader where they need to be. If you’re communicating to different groups you can also swap out the image and A/B test to see what photos work best for your audience.