How to get your e-newsletter opened and read

We all know the scary statistics. Only 23% of charity emails are even opened. And then only 3% generate a “click through” to charity websites.

How can you beat these figures? Here are my top tips:

Change your subject line

Nothing has inspired less interest on a cold, wet Monday morning than an email pinging into the inbox with the subject line: Greentree Foundation Newsletter March Edition. People don’t want to read newsletters, they want to read interesting content. Your subject line should flag up the most interesting story in your newsletter, and it should tell the reader what that story has to do with them.

Change who it comes from

Email is a personal medium, so your readers are more likely to delete emails that look like they’re from an organisation. Just think of all those MoneySupermarket or Amazon emails you delete without opening. Tweak your settings to have the email delivered from a named person in your organisation.

It’s not all about you

The content of your newsletter should be interesting and relevant to your target audience, not just information about your organisation and what you are up to. For every story ask yourself: what has this got to do with my audience? Why would they want or need to know this? In every edition you should offer some really great nuggets of information that will be useful, interesting or just a really good read. It’s great content that will keep readers coming back for more.

Be frequent

Your readers will forget they ever subscribed if you don’t send frequent, high quality content to them. A newsletter that comes out once a month just won’t keep your audience engaged – if they miss a couple, that’ll be a whole season they haven’t heard from you. Instead of a monthly edition with loads of content, split it up into fortnightly or even weekly emails.

Tell your readers what to do

Don’t expect your readers to absorb what you want them to do by osmosis. However good your story, they still need to be told what to do next. Give them a reason to do what you want them to do, and give them specific instructions in a highlighted link: Help sick animals now by clicking here to make a donation. Ask two or three times for the same action, and consider including a button to make your action clear.

Invite a response

There’s little more off-putting than receiving an email from or a warning: Do not reply to this email. You should be making interaction as easy as possible, and than means telling people it’s fine to Hit reply and tell us what you think.

Experiment with timings

There is no Golden Time to send your emails, though it might be best to avoid first thing on Monday morning when we all do an inbox mass delete. You can test sending your email at different times of day, or on different days, but for the effort involved you’ll probably get better results from following the tips above first.


Instead of sending the same newsletter to all your supporters, split the database up intelligently. As a woodlands organisation, perhaps you can segment dog walkers, parents, botany enthusiasts and conservationists. Then make your lead story for each segment relevant to that target audience. The more directly relevant your newsletter is, the better response you will get. (You do need a large database and decent email software to get the best from this technique).

Need help with your email newsletter? Contact me now.

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