With all the articles and blog posts on email fundraising, it’s easy to get the impression that the subject line reigns supreme in the ongoing battle to get fundraising emails opened.
It’s not that the subject line doesn’t matter – it does. It’s crucial. But it’s not the only thing. And it’s probably not even the most important thing.
An email appeared in my inbox a few days ago from Pauline Hersher. Immediately I wondered: Who in the world is Pauline Hersher? Do I know a Pauline Hersher? Should I know who Pauline Hersher is? Why am I getting this? Wait – it’s probably spam or some kind of phishing email. I better not open it.
Admit it: you’ve gone through something like this yourself. And it’s because the first thing you look at when you get an email probably isn’t the subject line – it’s the from line. You want to see who it’s from before you open it.
It’s the same for your donors. They’re wary about opening emails from an unknown source and downloading some mega-virus that turns their laptop into a puff of white smoke.
After puzzling over the identity of Ms. Hersher (not the real name, by the way), I finally noticed the subject line and realized the email was from a foundation I support.
Why add all this noise into a fundraising email? It just makes emails less likely to get opened.
Instead, take some of the attention usually lavished on subject lines and turn it to the from line. You can test different from lines to see what will work best. In general, try to keep the from line on the shorter side, since many email programs will just cut off a long from line.
If you can’t keep the from line short, then try to front-load the information. If your from line is, say, “John Jasperson from Save the Whales Foundation.” Donors won’t see most of that in their email preview. So unless you’re positive that everyone knows who John Jasperson is, try something like “Save the Whales: John Jesperson” for your from line as a possible test. Or maybe simply “Save the Whales.” It’s worthwhile to experiment with a few options and see what works best.