1. Your subject line is your headline

Too many of us treat email subject lines as an afterthought. We compose the body of the message first, and only when it’s time for layout do we turn our attention to the subject line. Create your subject line first. Make it as compelling as possible. Ask yourself it reads like a SPAM email. And avoid items that might make it appear as SPAM to various filters (all caps, exclamation points, the recipient’s name or email address, and prices). If you are new to email marketing, and your constituents aren’t used to hearing from you regularly via this medium, do not attempt humor or cleverness in your subject line – be as factual and informative as possible. And allow for truncation – a user’s email application may only show a certain number of characters. Keep it short enough that your entire subject line is seen, read and understood.

  1. Build brand equity with your “From” line

When choosing the name you use in the “From” line, it’s almost always best to use your organization’s name (or acronym). Some nonprofits feel that email communication is more personal if it comes from “John Doe at XYZ Organization” as opposed to “XYZ Organization” – but that is often a mistake. Why build recognition of a particular name (an executive director or board chair) when that could change over time? If your constituents are used to communications from John Doe, you’ll have to start building equity from scratch when Jane Smith replaces him. Once you’ve built a robust long term email marketing history, occasionally changing up the “From” line might be a good strategy. If you’ve sent a year’s worth of monthly email newsletters from “XYZ Organization,” you might try “John Doe at XYZ” as the “From” line in your annual appeal. But make that the exception, not the rule.

  1. Use a thoughtful combination of image and text

Depending on a user’s email application, the images in your email might never be downloaded. Important information should always be included in the body copy of your email. Make sure your message is complete even if the image isn’t seen. For many users, it won’t be.