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Digital Communications That Stand Out

By Lynne Wester

Lately, I’ve been making some gifts to different organizations. And I’ve been noticing that many of them are really upping their game when it comes to email subject lines. I’ll blame it on the pandemic because it seems like the thing to do. But it really is about standing out in the crowd—how do you get your emails read when most people have 3 inboxes, a smartphone or two, and less time in the day for your communications? I think it boils down to a few main factors that you have control of:

1. Subject Line

There is no reason in 2021 to have a lame subject line. Things like, “Your monthly newsletter” and, “A message from the president”, “Our annual impact report is here” make me CRINGE.

First of all, there are many subject line testers out there that will help you—

Here are some examples of recent great subject lines:

  • You make the Difference

  • Your giving moves us forward, Lynne

  • Jose and team in Louisiana: How You’ve Helped

  • You are a good friend, Thank you!

  • Lynne, You have a big heart for students

  • Test your Sister Jean knowledge!

  • Good news, Lynne, dreams do come true

2. Personalization

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no excuse anymore for a “dear friend/donor/alum” email. Personalize it! Use the donor’s first name in the subject line and in the greeting and body of the email—your CRM, email provider and database should all allow for this and if they don’t get new ones! It’s not 1994 anymore—People want and need to feel known, using their first name is a powerful start in the process.

3. Incorporating Multimedia

An email is NOT a letter. Stop signing them, stop obsessing over who they come from, stop sending them with 5 paragraphs of text. You have ONE screen to get to the recipient, the smart phone screen. Some might even argue you have the preview language—USE IT! Incorporate video in as many emails as possible and make the story come to life! Remember most people watch videos with the sound off so closed captioning is a MUST.

4. Snackable content

It’s not just about stopping the verbose emails of yore. It’s also about providing content that is less of a meal and more of a snack. Stop sending emails that link to a big honking PDF. I got one today that was a 32 page report on impact. “Ain't nobody got time for that!” Is what I screamed in my head. Drive me to a microsite of stories, maybe but 32 pages?? Think about instead of saving up all your content and serving a 7 course dinner that maybe over the course of a year you give donors 4-5 nice snacks. Who doesn’t love a snack? Small bite sized bits of content over time is much better than a huge email.

I hope these tips can help guide you as you send emails to your audiences. I have many more tips like these on our happy hours and in our trainings. What are your tips?

I hope to hear from you soon!




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