As media brands have upped their send volume throughout the pandemic, readers have engaged more. During Q1 of last year, Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s media customers experienced an average open rate of 18.7%. That number that jumped to 23.3% between February and July of this year. Two years ago, our brilliant Strategy & Analytics team created a benchmarking tool that quantifies all the millions of emails our customers collectively send every single minute, and compiles all the open and clickthrough rates.Vogue, Morning Brew and Refinery29 sent three of the top performing emails.

Read on to learn what made these three media superstars stand out so much.

Cross-Promote Like Morning Brew

Subject Line: ☕ Big announcement

When used to its full potential, email is a publisher’s best friend. Few media brands exemplify that better than Morning Brew, which offers such a strong email product that average open rates hover above 40%. As its engagement increased, Morning Brew has deftly used email to expand, sticking to its strengths and launching additional newsletters focused on complementary verticals such as retail and emerging tech. Each newsletter includes links to the others in the footer, simplifying the signup process.

Here, Morning Brew leaned on its extraordinarily high engagement to promote its latest spinoff, Marketing Brew. That plug sat in the newsletter’s top spot, reading like a message to the Brew’s nearly 2 million best friends, outlining Marketing Brew’s value proposition and frequency. Morning Brew subject lines are often irreverent, clever wordplay on top stories, so perhaps the simpler, more serious “Big announcement” captured subscribers’ attention.

Make It Your Own Like Vogue

Subject Line: 8 Feel-Good Movies You Should Watch Right Now, According to Nancy Meyers

While we’re still learning about the coronavirus and how it’s spread every day, we knew far less in the spring. Condé Nast publication Vogue sent this email in April, an anxious, scary time when most of the U.S. was under stay-at-home orders. People craved feel-good content.

With this email, Vogue stepped in, featuring eight feel-good movies curated by Nancy Meyers, the filmmaker behind classic rom-coms like Father of the Bride and The Parent Trap. On the surface, curling up on the couch with a movie doesn’t seem like it’d be in Vogue’s content wheelhouse so we love the way “the fashion Bible” made this topic its own. These eight aren’t just feel good films; they’re movies with strong enough style elements to feel relevant to the Vogue audience. For example, Sabrina won an Oscar for Best Costume Design and turned Audrey Hepburn into Givenchy’s most famous influencer.

Know Your Audience Like Refinery29

Subject Line: Your horoscope for the week — this retrograde has more “gifts” in store

Google searches for “birth chart” have steadily increased over the past five years, while astrologer Chani Nicholas won a Webby Award for the Spotify playlists she curates for each sign of the zodiac. Maybe they like how personalized it feels or maybe they just think it’s fun; whatever the reason, people love astrology. And Refinery29 knows it.

That personalized feeling is evident in the subject line, which starts with the word “your,” a common word in subject lines with exceptionally high open rates. This email certainly had a high open rate, though it had nothing on the clickthrough rate — the highest in this guide by far, likely because every element of this short, sweet email leaves the reader wanting more. “A waxing moon in Leo occupies the day, putting us in a mood to entertain each other. So…” So, what? Now we definitely need to see what else the stars have in store for us.

To see more standouts, download our latest Top Performing Emails guide here.