According to Greek mythology, curiosity led Pandora to open a box left in the care of her husband. Once opened, this box unleashed evil and curses upon mankind. Since antiquity, this parable has offered a warning about the pitfalls of curiosity and carelessness. For those of us tasked with creating email marketing campaigns, however, it begs the question: is there a way to generate Pandora-levels of interest in a subject line??
Email open rates are a crucial performance measure and a thorn in the side of most of us nonprofit content creators. Determining how to write subject lines that entice open is a tricky business, but it is absolutely essential. Every email left unopened represents a potential donor left untapped, a donation not received, and an opportunity to build a relationship squandered. This post will cover four basics of creating email subject lines that are proven to entice opens:
The best fundraisers know the value of personalization, and that lesson holds for email fundraising, too. The word “you” is a powerful weapon in your open-rate arsenal. Subject lines that include the word “you” perform better than more generic lines; the use of “you” has been shown to increase opens by as much as 50%.
Most email marketing software programs allow your organization to do even better and use the recipient’s first name in the subject line. This level of personalization is incredibly compelling, and can dramatically boost your open rate.
According to a study by Adestra, emails with subject lines of 6-10 words had a 21% open rate, compared to just 9% for wordier subject lines of 21-25 words. It’s worth noting, however, that emails with the shortest subject lines, 0-5 words, were 6% less likely to be opened than those with 6-10 words, so there is a limit to how short you should go. Nail your subject line length sweet spot and watch your open rates soar.
No one wants to read an email that’s robotic, so don’t let your subject line feel machine-generated. For every email subject line rule, there is an exception. Don’t be afraid to use your personal inbox as inspiration. Look at the subject lines from old emails with friends or family members. Allow your voice to come through, and ensure your message reads like it’s coming from a human.
With all the do’s and don’ts of email subject lines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, there are free resources available to help you test your subject lines before you click send. OmniSend and Send Check It allow you to receive specific feedback and critiques on a draft subject line, with helpful hints that may improve your open rate once you’re ready to unleash your email on the world.
Email subject lines are a critical part of any email marketing campaign, but they are only one piece of a larger whole. For your digital fundraising to be successful, you must also have a great email list, quality content, and well-designed email templates.
If your organization could use a hand in creating great email subject lines or further developing your email marketing, please reach out! We’ve helped nonprofits throughout the USA and Canada optimize their digital fundraising strategies.