One of the best methods for consistently engaging target audiences is through regular email communications. With 92 percent of the digital U.S. population using email as a form of communication, emails have the potential to engage more audiences than social media and other platforms. Plus, it is a method of direct communication with your audience for your organization – something that is even more valuable during a time when social media platforms like Twitter are increasingly unstable.

Here are five tips on how you can maximize your email communication to reach your target audience and increase open rates and engagement, including recommendations on how to share and draft content, personalize emails, create email lists, and optimize templates and visuals.

1. Use subject lines that are concise and catchy.

Be mindful of length. The optimal length for email subject lines is 41 characters. Making subject lines too long increases the likelihood of the subject line running off-screen.

Use emojis sparingly. When relevant, consider using an emoji in your subject line to increase open rates. One study analyzed over 9,000 email campaigns on mobile and found that subject lines that included emojis increase email open rates by 1,071% on Android and by 662% on iOS. You can send a test to see if the emoji shows up across all platforms.

Consider using questions for subject lines. Subject lines with questions have a 10% higher open rate because they spark curiosity and push audiences to open the email for answers.

2. Use language that is concise and easy to understand. 

Avoid jargon. Opt for words that audiences outside of your organization can understand.

Keep content concise, using short sentences and paragraphs. In terms of the word count, keep the newsletter no longer than 200 words when writing about one subject.

Include a call-to-action button. Use the button to guide audiences to the pages where they can learn more about the topics briefly mentioned in the email.

3. Build engaged email lists. 

Use double opt-in. Target audiences who are truly interested in your work by using double opt-in. Double opt-in is a method used where the subscriber first fills out the signup form for your newsletter and then receives a welcome email with a link, which they need to click to consent to receiving emails from you.

Segment email lists. Create email lists based on the audience member’s selection when signing up for your newsletter. You can even segment contacts automatically based on actions they take in your email.

Send welcome emails. Send audiences automatic welcome emails to set expectations, let them know what to expect from your emails, and add a level of personalization. Be upfront about the content and frequency.

4. Create personalized, appealing content.

Personalize your content. Send emails from a person, not a company. Sign emails with a staff member’s name based on the subject of the email (e.g., a fundraising appeal from the development manager or a program update from a program officer).

Celebrate milestones like organizational achievements or meeting donation goals, and share how the recipient contributed, if applicable.

Send visually appealing emails. Use a Z-pattern (left to right and right to left patterns) to push the reader to read through your entire email using a specific positioning of text and eye-catching visuals.

Images, including pictures, GIFs, or embedded videos generally increase your open rate. The best approach is 80% text to 20% visuals. Use colors and fonts associated with your organization’s brand, and include your logo, to create brand recognition and help audiences identify your emails in their busy inboxes.

5. Optimize emails for mobile devices. 

Check the mobile view before you click send. We are all using our phones more than ever; make sure your email is easy to read on a mobile device by using .jpg to preserve photo quality, avoid large blocks of text, and use call-to-action buttons, not links. Test your email across different devices before sending.

As you begin to learn more about email campaigns, you’ll discover there are always new and interesting strategies to help you best utilize this communications tool. The most important guidance is to learn what works best for your specific audience.

For racial and social justice organizations, our team is here to offer support for your email campaigns or other digital content needs. Reach out to us at to learn more about our services.