5 Tips to Creating the Best Email Subject Line

Email Fundraising
flickr credit: SeanMacEntee

The average email user sends 105 emails A DAY and receives about 72 messages daily according to a study conducted by the Radicati Group. Not only is email use widespread, but if you recall: 1 in 4 emails turn into a donation when it comes to fundraising. Before you can get the donation however, you first need people to actually read your email. And with a person receiving on average, 72 emails a day–you have some competition in vying for a reader’s attention.

You will also want to consider the email address and name that your email is coming from as well as how often you send an email and who you are sending the email to, but let’s assume for this exercise you’ve done all that and have arrived at writing the email subject line. Don’t panic–here are five things to consider:

  1. Avoid words that trigger spam. These include words such as “free,” “buy,” and “earn.” Learn about other words to avoid.
  2. Keep it short and simple. People only have so much time available and your email isn’t their priority. Let people know what your email is about upfront. Give them a clue as to why they should open it. For example, give people a hint at the specific cause you are supporting. For example, you could write: “African Drought: How You Can Help” or “Local Food Pantry: In Need Now.”
  3. Communicate the benefit. People need an incentive to open your email. If they devote time to reading it, what’s in it for them? Sometimes, urgency and timeliness can be a key factor here. For example, you could say “Floods Hit Home–Act Now,” “Giving Back Has Never Tasted So Good,” or “Help Me Achieve Our Goal.” These types of subject lines give someone a glimpse as to why they should open your email.
  4. Be actionable. Last week, I talked about how sometimes you just need to ask. You can do this in your email subject line–just be careful not to use those words that trigger spam. For example, you could say “Give of Your Heart and Support Local Food,” “Make a Difference in 5 Minutes of Less” or “Raise Support for Cancer Research.”
  5. Ask questions. Sometimes, asking a question can prompt someone to open your email. For example, you could say “How Can One Person Feed 1,000?” or “How Do We Fill a Football Stadium with Books?”

Every email list and group of subscribers is different and thus respond differently. Be sure to test what works–and what doesn’t. Now that we’ve talked about some things to consider, what are some of the BEST email subject lines you’ve seen?

BONUS: Most Popular Email Clients as of June 2011. Hint: iOS (iPhones, iPads and and iPods) come in second with 16% of the market!