How To Increase Your BORING NEWSLETTER Open Rate to 50%

By Jason Swenk on November 25, 2014

In this week’s session of The Smart Agency Master Class, I sit down with Tom Fishburne to talk about how you can spice up those boring newsletters you’re sending out, and how you can invest in your audience to get better email open rates.


130930.pres.contentTom is Founder and CEO of Marketoon Studios, a content marketing studio that helps businesses reach their audiences with cartoons. He started cartooning at Harvard Business School, and was putting out a weekly cartoon about marketing for several years before finally building it into a business model. For Tom, it was all about connecting his passion with his business.

Cartooning is a great tool to increase engagement.

Cartoons have been described as the best involvement tool out there. Plus, you can fit a lot of information in a small space.

Best of all, you don’t even have to be a good cartoonist to draw one. In fact, one of the most successful web comics out there is XKCD, which is done entirely in stick figures, but has over a million unique visitors to the site every day.

And cartooning has given Tom a 50%  increase in email open rates on his email blasts, but more on that in a bit.

What you shouldn’t do with your boring agency newsletter.

People tend to automatically think, “I want to make something that will go viral.” You should most definitely avoid this approach.

Tom says it’s all about continuity. Make a commitment to producing weekly, and stick to putting out quality content every single week. Don’t worry about whether or not it goes viral, just worry about whether or not your audience will find value in it. The more valuable it is to them, the more they’ll share it, and the more the audience will grow.

Remember, you’re making an investment in the audience. Don’t feel rushed to make a sale. People hate that, and you’ll end up turning them off. It’s not about people who are ready to buy now, those people will probably find you anyway. What you’re trying to do is invest in people who will want to buy from you in the future. Gain them as fans, and they’ll come to you when the time is right.

And yes, it does need to be weekly. Monthly is just too sparse. Sure, weekly is a lot of work, but it’ll pay off in spades over time. Just make sure you’re putting out thoughtful content that the audience wants.

How to get your email open rates to 50%.

It’s true, Tom has a fifty percent open rate. His email list of 20,000 is read by about 100,000 people a week through social shares. And he doesn’t do any outbound marketing!

Take a moment to collect your jaw from off the floor.

Most agencies have an open rate of 12-15%, maybe 20% (if you’re really lucky). How does one get to this magical 50%?

It’s all about interesting, relevant content. Tom has an audience that wants to be there, and they expect his email every Monday morning. They look forward to it, which has a lot to do with the fact that he doesn’t stuff it full with sales pitches and useless facts about his agency. The cartoon is relevant to his audience and he uses it to start a conversation.

Seriously, no one cares about your new VP of Operations. Don’t put that kind of stuff in your email blasts. It needs to include things that the audience wants to see. No thought provoking conversation is going to spring up around the newest award your agency won.

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Keep Improving Your Business

Now that you know how to increase and improve your email open rates, take a look at the bigger picture of your agency. Are there other challenges you are facing in your agency?

From my experience, I have covered topics from how to handle a recession or how to increase your profits without losing customers for your agency. Or maybe you want to know the four phases of growth within your agency and want extra help in taking your agency to the next level and sell your agency for a larger profit? I have all the information you need to help you through it.

You can learn more about my life and my experience as well as lots of tips, tricks and insights by reading our blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

If videos are more your thing, don’t worry, i’ve got you covered! You can check out more from my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my Youtube channel. There you will find advice from myself and other agency experts.

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