Jorge Zhang

Personal website

MailChimp Trick for Higher Open Rate: Day First, Event Last

October 19, 2019

For the past several months I have used a tool called MailChimp to send out mass emails. I personally found it extremely valuable for my Kickstarter campaign, as well as for organizing a board game club. Since my mailing lists are quite small (way under the 2000 limit), MailChimp is free for me to use.

What MailChimp looks like on my end for Georgetown Board Games

What is Open Rate?

One of the things that I pay close attention to is my open rate. Open rate represents the percentage of people who open my emails, which translates to more people showing up to our weekly meetings (and subsequently, funding for our club).1

1. It is important to note that open rate depends on the receiver downloading the “tracking image.” This automatic download is often disabled for Android devices, which translates into artificially lower open rates.

Day First = Higher Open Rate

Looking over the earlier data, I quickly noticed that putting the date first in the title of my emails led to higher open rates. For example, “Sunday Diplomacy” would perform much better than something like “Diplomacy Sunday.”

Putting the date first in the title of the email resulted in an ~8% greater open rate.

It is important to acknowledge the small sample size, and so it is plausible that this is actually just a coincidence. In addition, the number of subscribers to our email list was not held constant (that being said, upon weighing the percentages based on the size of the email list, the roughly 8% greater open rate persisted).

Why is this?

My hypothesis is that people have highly limited attention spans, and so putting the date first helps them process whether an event is relevant to them or not. I personally experience this in my life, receiving roughly 25 emails per day (and that’s not even including my personal email address!). Often times, I’ll wait for emails to build up a bit before mass-archiving any that don’t seem important or relevant to me. This inevitably results in me missing a crucial email from time to time, a problem that could be solved with more concise email titles.

Any thoughts on this method or why it appears to be true? Do you have any tricks for writing email titles that you want to share? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

© 2020 Jorge Zhang