4 tips to boost open rates

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It goes without saying: your agency’s newsletter is one of your most important communication pieces. After all, it’s loaded with the things that matter to your clients. Obviously, then, your priority should be to get people to open it.

But you’ve found over time that open rates are a never-ending battle. If you’re anything like me, you get sad when people don’t see your beautiful work of art—you put time and effort into your agency’s newsletter, so why aren’t people opening it?

As consistent as your subject lines and sender are, your rates can fluctuate like a weatherman’s 14-day weather predictions. But remember, you’re 100% in control of everything your recipients see before they open an email. After nearly a year of experimentation, I wanted to share some of our findings for the top factors that will boost open rates.

1. Send your newsletter at a time that works for your clients.

You’re not going to double your open rates when you send your email at a different time, but you can certainly influence them. In 2015 so far, we’ve found an astonishing difference in open rates throughout the week.

We send our newsletters once a week because our products and services rapidly evolve. Since our email newsletters inform people about new and upcoming features, we need to send it earlier in the week before the features are released. Of course, you may want to set a different expectation based on the goals of your organization.

We’ve sent the newsletters between Mondays and Wednesdays, and here are some of our findings:


Mondays Tuesdays Wednesdays
Open rate 23.38% 20.74% 20.91%
Click to open ratio 6.97% 9.20% 4.68%


Monday open rates were 2.64% higher than Tuesday, and 2.47% higher than Wednesday. Interestingly enough, the most successful Monday emails went out around 4:30pm local time (3:30pm Pacific, 6:30pm Eastern). That means partners are opening the newsletter right before they go home, after work hours.

2. Deliver your newsletter from a personal email address.

We’ve found that people are more comfortable opening emails from people they know, like VPs and managers. They are not comfortable with generic addresses like info@yourcompany.com or support@yourcompany.com. Send your newsletter from the most recognizable face in the company (aside from your CEO, because she/he is too busy to distribute a newsletter).

3. Clean up your preheader mumble jumble.

The preheader is your second chance. It’s that one line of text after the subject line that gives your recipient a preview of what to expect in the newsletter. If you couldn’t win the recipient over with the subject line, the preheader is your last opportunity.

Here’s the least effective preheader you could show your recipients:

“Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser. Weekly Newsletter…”

You need a meaningful message ahead of this! In the preview, you can actually display text that does not appear in the email itself. Simply enter the following HTML after the <body> tag of the email:

<div style=”display:none;font-size:1px;color:#333333;line-height:1px;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;”>

 Insert preview text here.            


Voila. Now you have a good second chance.

4. Shorten your subject line.

You can’t do a blog about open rates without talking about subject lines. Without going into a very long explanation, here is one key takeaway: keep it short.

Subject lines are like an elevator pitch for your email. If they’re too long, you’re going to lose people. Everyone wants to cram so much info into that line. If you keep your subject shorter, you’ll stand out. Now, we didn’t do anything revolutionary with our subject lines, but we did make a minor change. For example:

  1. Vendasta’s Weekly Product Insider: December 8-12
  2. Vendasta Weekly Product Insider: Dec. 15-19 w/ New Design
  3. Vendasta’s Weekly Product Insider: Dec. 22-26
  4. Vendasta Product Insider: Dec. 29

Which subject line caught your eye? Probably option D.

Another nice thing about using a concise subject line is that  it draws more attention to your preheader.
Consider these suggestions to boost the open rates of your agency’s newsletter. Try new things and don’t be afraid to see your rates drop—you’ll learn what not to do the next time.


We ran a case study with a newspaper in sunny California, who saw amazing open and click through rates. Check out the case study here. 

Blair Nordstrom

Blair is a Product Marketing Specialist at Vendasta and a connoisseur of all things digital marketing.