Still stuck for subject lines for your year-end emails?
The subject line is like the outer envelope for direct mail. It’s the window into your message. Make sure it’s wide open and gives a glimpse of something that grabs folks’ attention. Make it intriguing, urgent, exciting, compelling, emotional, shocking or funny. The more useful and specific it is the better.
And by the way, if you’re not planning a series of year-end emails — get on it NOW! Did you know that a full third (33%) of December gifts occur on the 31st of the month? If you’re not putting forward your most compelling fundraising offer at a timed when folks are primed to give the most, you’re really missing your best opportunity.
In 15 Subject Line Examples for Your Holiday Email Marketing Ryan Pinkham provides inspiration that applies as well to nonprofits as to retail businesses. Here are examples I particularly like, with thoughts about how you can use them to boost your year-end fundraising:
THE QUESTION that intrigues
1. “Struggling to find the perfect gift for your [significant other; parent; work colleague; friend]?”
Sometimes the perfect gift is not “stuff” but a gift that keeps on giving. One that helps people who need help… contributes towards solving an important problem… rights a wrong… or secures an important resource. Perhaps folks would like to make a gift – through your organization – in honor of a loved one.
2. “Have you seen our perfect holiday [offer/collection/gift ideas]?”
Sometimes nonprofits have ‘Wish Lists’ or even gift catalogues (e.g., Adopt a Kitten; Sponsor a Child or see Heifer International). Asking folks to sponsor a specific “gift” captures their attention during the holiday season.
THE DEADLINE that creates urgency
3. “Don’t wait. Save % this week at [your business].”
This can be adapted to assure folks don’t miss the opportunity to double their money through a challenge or that they don’t miss their chance to get a year-end tax deduction. Or if there’s something you do that’s particularly important at this time of year (e.g., “Get homeless off the street before the cold season.”) you can use this type of headline to your advantage.
THE TEASER that compels
4. “3 gift ideas for your [brother/sister/uncle/cousin] that you didn’t think of.”
5. “Stress-free holiday shopping is possible at [your business].”
If crafted correctly, the teaser tactic works really well. You can use a variation of the “looking for a gift?” strategy here. What you’re doing here is helping last minute shoppers avoid the stress of coming up with a perfect idea, braving the crowds and generally wasting their money on gifts the recipient doesn’t need and probably doesn’t want.
Or consider a teaser that offers a new opportunity:
6. “Learn how to [do something] this holiday season.”
Perhaps you pair a year-end ask with an invitation to an event or workshop or volunteer activity. Or maybe you just exhort people to learn how to save a life, save the environment, teach children to read, etc.
THE ANNOUNCEMENT that triggers action now
This is where you let folks know about something that’s happening. For example, tell them you have a matching or challenge grant. Or that you’re really close to your goal, and just need a little extra help to hit this out of the ballpark. (e.g., “You can put us over the top TODAY!” or “Your gift NOW means we can help 10 more kids next year.”). Or phrase the subject line in a manner that warns them if they don’t give right away they’re going to miss out on something.
7. “Don’t miss our December [specials/offers/events].”
One of the best email subject lines for challenge grants is simply “Double Your Money.” Of course, this is a variation of the deadline subject line, just with a bit more of a reader-centered approach. It focuses on something your donor will gain from responding now. The “Don’t Miss Your Chance to Double Your Money” may be even more powerful. It entices with an offer of something people won’t want to miss out on. Research by Daniel Kahneman and others reveals that folks hate to lose even more than they love to gain.
Remember: 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. So be snappy! But be careful of exclamation points and all caps, as it tends to send your mail into spam folders.
Bottom line: No matter how much you’ve worked on the content of your e-appeal, it’s worthless if no one opens it. (Note: If you happen to use MailChimp they have a free tool to test the strength of your subject line).
Are you using a variation of any of these for your holiday emails? Let us all know, and… Good luck with your year-end fundraising!
No Email Appeal Yet?
My Anatomy of a Fundraising Appeal Guide has a sample email appeal + tips to take you through the process of crafting a compelling message lickety split. Grab it here, and may you have great year-end success!
Got Gifts? Give Thanks.
Don’t wait until the last minute to put your donor acknowledgement strategy together. Make sure you’re ready to get your thank you’s flying out the door with 48 Hours: Your Donor Acknowledgment Solution Kit. Get it here. And if you want to really WOW your donors with thank you’s that set up your next gift strategy (much more than a one-time transaction receipt), you’ll want to check out my Attitude of Gratitude Donor Guide. Get it here. All my materials come with a 100% guarantee.
.Photo: Flickr, Keith Ramsey
This article first appeared on Clairification, 12-15-2013