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Improve your Open Rate with these tips

Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hi there,
I hope your week has started off beautifully.
It’s been an exciting couple of days here at Revue as we’ve just launched the Revue Email Academy — a five-day course to help people who join Revue be successful with their newsletter. I’ll go deeper on this and more in the ‘Updates’ section below.
But first, I want to talk about something else. While building the Email Academy, we realized we were missing something important: Resources on what to do when your Open Rate is low.
So let’s get into that question; it’s one of the most fascinating things about the world of newsletters. Let’s jump in.
Open Rates aren’t everything
I’ll start with a caveat: Open Rates are not the be-all-and-end-all of newsletter metrics (we’ve spoken about that before in an earlier issue). But they can help you understand whether you’re engaging your readers effectively, and they can give you hints about the nature of your subscriber list and what makes them tick.
There are three things a reader will see before they decide to open your newsletter. And you can influence all of them. Below, we’ll cover:
  • From name: This needs to be the most recognizable part of your newsletter brand.
  • Subject line: This needs to stand out among the others in the inbox.
  • Preview/Pre-header: This can give the reader more context, and it’s something newsletter writers often overlook.
First things first: what counts as a ‘good’ Open Rate?
Once you hit about 100 subscribers, your Open Rates should have reached a steady level, and shouldn’t fall too much from that point.
Email marketers are lucky to hit 20% as a steady Open Rate. But writers and creators should aim for a higher number. As a rule of thumb, anything below 25% definitely has room for improvement. Between 25-50% is good, but can also be improved. Above 50% is great — that’s a sign that most of your audience has been engaged with what you’ve created, and some might even be building a habit around your newsletter.
So, what if you’re thinking ‘Hmm, my 24% isn’t looking too hot right now’? Don’t worry, there are things you can do that should help — and I’m going to walk you through them right here.
From Name
Every email inbox will show a ‘From’ field as well as a subject line. Use the ‘From’ name to your advantage: it’s a great way to build brand recognition.
Ask yourself what your readers are most familiar with. Is it the name of your newsletter (eg. “Revue Weekly”)? Or do you run a personal newsletter, and people are most familiar with your name (eg. “Anna Elliott”)? Or is it a combination of the two (eg. “Anna from Revue”)? While the subject line is all about that specific issue, the ‘From’ name is all about your newsletter’s brand. One cool thing we’ve seen is people just using their Twitter handle (@revue).
Sure, you could call each new issue ‘Revue Weekly issue #1’, ‘Revue Weekly issue #2’ and so on, but why waste the opportunity to make your subject line stand out? Set a great ‘From’ name, and use your subject line to say something new and interesting with each issue. More on that below.
Tip: By default, your Newsletter Title will appear as the ‘From’ name in Revue (you can change it in the ‘Profile’ tab in Account Settings), but if you also set a Newsletter Author (also in Account Settings), that will override the Newsletter Title and appear in the ‘From’ field instead. The key here is to keep it consistent and recognizable.
Subject line
Lots of research has been conducted into what makes a subject line that readers are more likely to click on, and we can share some of that with you here:
  • Decide on your audience and tone of voice. If your writing style is cheeky, let that shine through in your subject line. If your topic is serious, make sure that comes across instead.
  • Keep it short. 6-10 words is the sweet spot. It will be easier to grasp as a concept for the reader, and it’s less likely to be cut off by the recipient’s email program if they’re reading on a laptop or a big screen.
  • Put the most important part at the beginning. Most people will read your email on a phone (see this research from Litmus), and many email apps will only show the first few words of a subject line before cutting off.
  • Be interesting. What’s the most important issue or question you address in this newsletter issue? Pose it to your readers in the subject line. Or use a thought-provoking or funny snippet from the body of the email.
  • Be clear. Avoid complicated sentence structures or jargon. You don’t want to put people off by making it hard to understand.
  • Watch out for spam filters. There’s no clear list of what not to do here (if there were, spammers would find it and develop loopholes!), but it’s generally best practice to avoid lots of symbols and punctuation marks ($$$, ?!) and words related to finance or pharmaceuticals (cash, discount, income, etc).
Preview (“Pre-header”)
The pre-header is the short line of text that follows the subject line when viewing an email preview in an inbox. It can go alongside or underneath the subject line, depending on the device and screen size. Most email clients show this text to let the recipient know what the message contains before they open it.
They are so often a missed opportunity in the newsletter world. Essentially, they’re an extra chance to engage your reader before they open the newsletter.
By default, this line of text is taken from the first text found in the email, but you can complement your subject line by setting a pre-header that offers more intrigue. Check out this article for an explainer on how to set a pre-header in Revue.
Look at the data
The last piece of advice I have for you here is to check which of your emails performed particularly well, and see if there are patterns. You can find your past Open rate data in the Performance tab in your Insights — and here’s an explainer on how to read that data.
I hope that helped! Now, onto an equally exciting topic: What’s new on Revue since we last spoke…
Updates from Revue this week
🎓 We launched the Revue Email Academy
You may remember that a few weeks ago I told you about a project I was working on: a five-day course to help people become successful with their newsletter. That course is now complete, and people who use Revue can enroll for free!
Enroll here (you may be prompted to log in).
It’s full of big and small things you can do right away to be a smashing success on email. You’ll learn the basics and more. So even if you’ve been doing this for a while, it’s likely you’ll learn something new. Some of the things the Revue Email Academy covers in the five days:
How to build a writing habit. How to use Revue’s tools. How to monetize. And if you’ve sent your first issue to more people than just yourself, we’ll unlock a bonus class: How to grow your audience!
This came together thanks to all of you wonderful people who offered fantastic feedback when I first told you about it via this very newsletter. Thanks to you, this has become a useful and (hopefully) fun resource for creators — and we’ll keep making it better with you.
Revue’s much-loved browser extension landed on Safari
What if you could tap a button anywhere on the web to save that page, then drop it into your newsletter and watch it transform into a beautiful preview?
Well, you can! And now you can in all major browsers.
This little extension makes it easy to save links, then zap them over to Revue where they’ll be waiting for you next time you want to work on your draft. It’s one of the things creators using Revue love most about us.
Get it here:
And once you’ve installed our lovely extension, why not check out some inspiration for your newsletter below?
Newsletter inspiration
We loved stumbling upon photographer Kirsten Alana’s new newsletter, An Eye for Life: My Week Online. It’s a wonderful mixture of captivating visuals and personal, thoughtful storytelling.
📸  An Eye for Life: My Week Online 🌸  Issue 2
The week in newsletters
Here’s your weekly curation of newsletter industry news:
A new publication planned by a former Vanity Fair editor aims to attract writers with a revenue-sharing plan
‎Award-winning journalist Dana James on her local newsletter for the Black community
Choire Sicha is leaving the NYT Styles desk to expand The Times’ newsletter portfolio
Substack Local launched this week
Hello. We're Revue by Twitter.
Revue by Twitter is an editorial newsletter tool for writers and publishers.
We publish this weekly update and a blog for newsletter editors and audience managers.
I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or suggestions about this newsletter, Revue, or your own newsletter. Just hit reply or send an email to aelliott@twitter.co.
Have a great week,
Anna
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Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue @revue

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