Seven ways to get people to open your emails


At Hendrix, we’re always telling people not to underestimate the power of email marketing. That’s because we’ve got good reason to. When done properly, this channel can help you rake in the millions. Honestly, our charities have seen it happen firsthand. They’ve also seen us raise their email open rates from an average of almost 12% (in Ramadan 2015) to nearly 20% (in Ramadan 2016).

Now there’s a great deal involved in achieving email success, but we’ve found that a good subject line is vital. Take Ramadan, a month in which hundreds of emails are sent by Muslim charities to UK donors. How do you ensure your email stands out from the crowd and doesn’t get marked as spam? A good subject line is how. Getting it right is a process of fine-tuning, but here are some tips based on what we’ve learned.

  1. Targeted Questions

Asking a targeted question in your subject line will make your audience more likely to engage with your email. But this won’t work with any old, random question. It has to be one that’s specific to your audience’s personal experience and interests. To have the best impact and success, you need to utilise the knowledge you have about your email audience.

  1. The “How to…”

Using “How to…” to open your email subject line can be a great way to hook your audience.  ‘How to…’ implies that you are providing a solution to their specific needs. This will resonate with them and show the value of your email.  It will not only showcase your areas of work but also encourage them to get more involved with your organisation. However, just as with targeted questions, you will need to know your audience and their interests for this to be effective.

  1. Make it curious

One sure fire way to encourage people to open your emails is to make them curious to find out more. A subject line that piques the curiosity will make your audience feel compelled to open your email. It’s human nature. But do make sure that once they get there your email lives up to their curiosity, because there’s nothing worse than an anti-climax. Also a word of warning: as highly effective as this method is, it can be annoying if overused. So keep it tasteful and don’t overuse it.

  1. Use humour

Often a lack of engagement can actually come from trying too hard to get it right.  At Hendrix Media, we do recommend you take the time to come up with effective subject lines, but don’t fall into the trap of overthinking it and losing the impact of the subject all together. Depending on the content of your email, it’s ok to occasionally use a more relaxed angle to engage with your audience. Now we’d never suggest using a humorous subject line for an emergency aid campaign, but do consider it for an upcoming tour or event and see how well that goes down.

  1. Personalise it

So you want to target your supporters through their personal experiences and interests? Have you considered using their names? Personalisation can build a more human connection between you and your supporters. Combine personalisation and some of the other suggestions in this article, and you’ll have a highly compelling email. Now extend all this to your subject line and what you get is an effective way to ensure your audience is opening your emails.

  1. Set an expectation

Setting expectations for what your audience will see in the email can improve your open rates and engagement. Recent research has shown that simply including the word ‘video’ in the subject line can boost your open rates by 19%. So do tell them what they have to look forward to. But make sure you don’t go and spoil it all by removing ALL the mystery.

  1. Create urgency

People are always afraid of missing out on something. It’s just how we’re built. From an event to an opportunity, or a chance to make a difference –everyone wants to be part of something good and globally beneficial. Creating that urgency in your subject line can be a powerful driving force to boost your open rates. Not to mention, your audience will be grateful that you’re keeping them in the know and abreast of what’s going on.

Now before you get over excited, do remember that all of these tips rely on you knowing your audience. By collecting basic info on their interests, background and behaviour, you’re more likely to connect with them through subject lines, AND convert them into long standing supporters. This knowledge is what lies behind the power and potential of email marketing, so make sure you’re prepared to invest the time and funds necessary over the long-term.

Still unsure about what your next step should be?  Get in touch with us. We’ll give you advice on the best way to get your email campaign started and on its way to gaining success for your charity.