A quack at it?
Yes! Because I’m guessing you don’t have your ducks lined up to make this year’s email appeal worth all your effort. What do I mean? I mean the lion’s share of folk receiving your email is simply going to hit ‘delete.’ And that’s just not going to pay your bills.
You need to get all your duckies in a row. And I know exactly which two are missing.
Seriously, I know. It’s as easy as duck soup to do, but you’re not. How do I know? Because I’ve been in that duck pond. I know where your world-wide webbed feet are taking you.
You’re painstakingly wordsmithing the appeal message… agonizing over just the right tag line… angsting over which photo is the most compelling… meticulously crafting your killer call to action… thoroughly assuring your donate button link is working… worrying about your colors and type face… and distressing about how you’ll measure your results. All essential things. But your email is still going to drown.
Yup. Your poor little email is just a sitting duck for that delete button. Unless… you shift your angsting energy to two simple, yet too often overlooked or back-burnered, things.
1. The “From” line.
2. The “Subject” line.
Let’s start with the “From” line.
This is arguably the most important part of your email. According to a recent Constant Contact study, 64% of people open emails because of the organization it is from; compared with 47% of people opening emails because of what is in the subject line. To avoid having your precious email wind up in the trash bin, you need to use the ‘Just Ducky! ’ Rule. And the ‘From’ line is at the heart of this rule. Let me explain.
When folks see an email from you in their inbox you want them thinking “That’s just ducky! An email from _____. She always has something interesting to say.”
Whose emails do you open first? Chances are good that when you open your email box a majority of the messages are of little interest to you. You don’t know who they’re from, they look like junk, or they’re coming from someone who doesn’t interest you enough to compel you to open their message. If you have time, maybe you will. If you don’t, maybe you’ll hit “delete.”
Who the email is from is often what motivates people to open it. Your email should come from a person or brand your targeted reader knows, trusts and, ideally, likes. Often this will be the E.D. It could also be another beloved staff member or lay leader. Even when you have a trusted brand, you’ll likely get a better response from the person at the brand. People give to people, not institutions. If you’re not sure about this, it’s certainly something worth testing!
Don’t duck out on this responsibility, please. Think about who the email is coming from before you begin to write. Don’t leave it until the very end. Too often no one thinks about it; then the IT person or the administrative assistant is assigned to “launch” the email. Typically they do one of two things: (1) simply launch the email from a corporate account, or (2) innocently ask “Who’s it coming from?”
The first is not so good, because it’s a thoughtless approach. The second is not so good, because it’s an afterthought (and I’ve seen more than one occasion where the appeal was delayed because it took awhile to find a signatory or to create a new “from” email account that would work).
Put a feather in your cap by planning ahead so that when your reader opens their inbox they exclaim: “Just Ducky!”
Now, let’s look at making your subject line a real firequacker!
The subject line is the window into your message. To be a great e-mallard you’ve got to give the reader a reason to open the email. Waddle you gonna do about this? You’re gonna make your subject line one or more of these things: urgent; intriguing; exciting; specific; useful; compelling; emotional, shocking or funny (even daffy). That’s what it takes to get folks flocking to you.
Here are a few real examples:
- Four pounds, that’s what’s up (leading to email about how food bank client had gained weight after receiving nutritious food at an on-site pantry at her senior apartments.) Intriguing/Funny
- Abandoned by budget cuts, they’re counting on us (leading to e-appeal to fund home care for seniors who were losing critical lifeline services due to budget cutbacks). Urgent/Specific
- Why the cheerleaders shaved their heads (a message from Indianapolis Colt’s coach Chuck Pagano, who was battling leukemia). Shocking
And you can find a whole duck boatload of ideas – most of which are as good as they’re quacked up to be — in 200 More Email Subject Lines from End of Year Fundraising.
But don’t mislead. That will make you a dead duck. Folks don’t mind being teased a little, but they don’t like being lied to. If folks open your email, but then see it’s not at all about what you promised, they’ll do what they Muscovy — toss you right out.
You have only a few seconds to capture attention. Subject lines with less than 50 characters have open rates 12.5% higher than those with 50 or more, and click-through rates are 75% higher.
While we’re at it, consider your header and your pre-header. Because even if you get your email open, studies show that 51% will delete your email within 2 seconds of opening it. Aargh! The pre-header, by the way, is an extra tool to convince your subscribers to quack open your email. What is it? It’s the snippet of text at the top of your email (or a link to the online version) that your subscribers see first, sometimes even before they open the email.
Most email clients display the pre-header right after the subject line. This means if you’re using images, you absolutely must include an ALT description of the image for those folks (most) whose images are blocked. Talk to your IT folk if you don’t know what I’m talking about. And keep in mind the typical inbox preview pane will only show 30 to 40 characters (the typical mobile device shows around 15 characters). So make your lead-in count.
Once you get these two things nailed – From and Subject line – getting your email opened will be like water off a duck’s back.
Hasn’t this been pun?
Speaking of something that’s more than it’s quacked up to be, I want to let you in on an amazing opportunity to hear a completely free webinar that will tell you exactly how to get more sponsors for your events. It’s by Shanon Doolitle -brought to you by the awesome Chris Davenport at Movie Mondays. Shanon will even tell you what specific words to use to persuade those sponsors that you’re their match made in heaven! Make more money than ever at your event this year — oh, yeah! Check it out here.
Photo: Flickr, Gertrud K