You’ve designed and written a killer email or letter for your next solicitation. Don’t let it miss the mark. If no one opens the piece, you and they have missed the opportunity to share the word and work of your organization. Don’t waste your openings.
The subject line on an email, the first sentence or the envelope teaser on your annual mailing, the first thing a speaker says: all these go about 50% of the way toward capturing the attention and getting follow-through from your target audience.
Give the action step. This is usually a verb, fortified by Now.
People respond to people—be sure the reader knows who’s doing the ask (you!)
Your subject should feature something they care about. (If you don’t know what content in particular your donors care about, time to ask!)
Don’t waste people’s time. The reader will only consider your headline or opener for a few seconds before deciding to look further or move on to other things. Put the attention-getter right up front. Open rates are much higher for quick-to-read headlines than for ponderous ones. Consider that the typical inbox preview pane shows only 30 to 40 characters; mobile devices even fewer. It does no good to have your action word beyond what’s seen at first glance.
Numbers (dollars, 5 ways, 100%) always convey a message with easy interpretation. Don’t forget urgency (only 3 days left to…). Make it personal, not by plugging in the reader’s name, but by using “you” and “your.”
Avoid looking like a spammer. Resist the temptation to use all caps or extra exclamation points. (Check your own Junk Mail for good examples of what not to do.)
Never waste a chance to communicate by failing to optimize your opening line.