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Nonprofits: Don't Be Lazy With Your Email Subject Lines

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How to Use Social Media to Improve Donor Loyalty

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It’s already hard enough to get your constituents to read and interact your emails. But don’t make it harder by not giving them a reason to open your emails in the first place.

Here’s a real life example.

I’m a big IndyCar fan. I love going to the Indy 500 and follow most of the races for the entire season. So I should be a perfect candidate to get excited by the Indycar Insider newsletter, right?

But each week, they send a newsletter and never change the subject line. It always says exactly the same thing:

“Race Fan, your INDYCAR Insider Has Arrived!”

But… I know it’s arrived… it’s in my inbox. (that’s what I scream at my phone everytime I see this come through).

Why should I open this email this week? Is there a new profile on my favorite driver (Scott Dixon, by the way) that I can read? Is there some true “insider” knowledge that I won’t see anywhere else? I wouldn’t know it by just the subject line.

So I’ve stopped opening these emails.

I am still subscribed, but eventually, I suppose, I’ll unsubscribe and get information elsewhere.

Remember that the only purpose of an email subject line – literally the only reason for its existence – is to entice the recipient to open the email. That’s. It.

So when you are crafting your subject lines, ask yourself “Will this make them want to open the email?”

Subject lines like these may fail the test:

  • September Newsletter
  • Donation Confirmation
  • Volunteers Needed

Why? They don’t give the email recipient an enticing reason to open the email.

What would happen if each of the above read something like:

  • Take a tour of this village’s new water well
  • Meet the litter of kittens you just saved
  • Change a life by giving only an hour of your time

Your subject line can still “preview” the email content, but do so in a more enticing way.

So spend some time crafting your subject lines. Tell a story. Create a sense of urgency. Flatter the recipient.

You could argue that they’re more important than the content of the email.

Got any unique subject lines that have been successful? Let us know in the comments below!

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