You could spend all the time in the world creating a great looking email newsletter that you know your members would be interested in. But if they don’t open it, then what’s the point?

Currently, nonprofits that use Constant Contact to create and send their emails are achieving a 20% open rate. How do you compare? You can get more members opening your email newsletter and deepening their connection with your organization with these simple tips. (You can gain many more tips like these in the upcoming free webinar, Nonprofit Newsletters That Engage.)

1. Who is this newsletter from? That’s the first question your readers typically want to answer. If they can’t figure that out quickly, they will likely skip over or delete your newsletter. The “From Name” and “From email address” that you choose should be what will be most recognizable to the majority of your audience. That could be your organization’s name, an acronym, a well known member of your staff like the Executive Director, or maybe the name of an initiative or event. Some people may know the staff member “John Smith,” but many more people will recognize “United Way.”

2. Have an intriguing subject line. Keep it short — about 5 to 8 words — and make it related to the most important topic in the issue. Are you intrigued by the subject line “Go Green Association Newsletter?” A better subject line would be “How to Live in Harmony with Backyard Wildlife.”

3. Avoid spam traps. Don’t use all capital letters or excessive punctuation (like a series of exclamation points or periods) in your subject line. That’s just one thing that will get your email caught by spam filters and prevent it from reaching your subscribers. It’s also good to avoid attachments and large images. Don’t be concerned with what you should avoid because it’s always changing. Instead, make sure you click the “Spam Checker” before you send your newsletter out. It will scan through your subject line and newsletter and will catch things that may get you in trouble. The Spam Checker will also let you know exactly what it is you need to change before you hit Send.

4. Ask your subscribers to “whitelist” you. Suggest to your subscribers that they put your “From email address” into their address book. That will tell Internet Service Providers like Yahoo and Google that these subscriber should are expecting to receive your email. There are many benefits to getting whitelisted with just one of them being higher delivery of your emails into the inbox. You can provide a regular reminder at the top of all your emails: “To ensure you continue to stay updated with the latest news from our organization, please add [your email address] to your address book.”

Improve your email newsletter’s open rate by using these four tips as a checklist before you send your next newsletter. Want more tips? I recommend attending the free upcoming webinar Nonprofit Newsletters That Engage. And if you have any questions or feedback about this post, I’m happy to answer them.