HelloReady, set, go! Your email has less than 10 seconds to get your prospect’s attentionand keep it.

Not surprisingly, your best bet in today’s attention-span-deprived and increasingly mobile market is to keep that introduction short and sweet, especially when it may be a potential donor’s first impression of your organization. Consider this: “7 in 10 email recipients judge the From and Subject lines when determining whether to mark you as spam.” According to Active Campaign, citing Return Path, “subject lines with 49 or fewer characters had open rates 12.5 percent higher than those with 50 or more,” and fewer characters also increased click-through rates by as much as 75 percent.

Fully 90 percent of American adults own a cellphone, according to the Pew Research Center, with more than half of those polled already upgraded to smartphones; 50 percent of those users in turn employ it as their primary online device.

The numbers don’t lie, and they are the reason every effective fundraiser needs to have a cohesive mobile and online strategy in play. The more channels you make available as potential donor portals, the greater your chances of increasing contributions overall in less time at lower costs. (Email is still number one in ROI: returning $39.40 on every dollar invested.)

Timing is everything, location is paramount, and relevancy rules on the exponentially expanding “Internet of Things,” as we become even more connected across an ever-growing range of devices. Once you’ve identified your ideal demographic for any particular campaign, you’ll need to gain as close to a 360-degree view of your audience as possible: how and when they are connecting, where they are, and what they’re looking for.

After you analyze your marketing metrics and narrow your aim, here are some basic tips to keep your messages out of the spam folder.


  • Keep your subject line short, 20 to 50 characters max, depending on the targeted email client. (Some smartphones, for example, can support only 20 characters on one line, while others will cut off after 32.)
  • Get personal, just don’t overdo it; use good judgment when wielding this powerful marketing tool ― simply repeating Steve’s name over and over again will not make Steve your new best friend, but may make you sound like a creepy robot.
  • Employ a “preference center,” putting your prospects in charge of their own experience by allowing them to control the frequency of communications as well as tailor them to personal topics of interest.


  • Inundate their inbox; too many emails is the primary reason people unsubscribe.
  • Mistake flash for substance; explanation points can make you look desperate, while using an unwarranted “FWD” or “RE” in your subject line is a deceptive practice at best.
  • Include attachments on first contact, as the average Netizen is well aware of the potential risks of malware and viruses and how they can be unleashed; engage your prospects using relevant links, embedded graphics/video, and brief but compelling content instead.

Before you can seamlessly streamline your prospect’s interactive experience, however, you may first need to restructure your own, breaking down traditional departmental silos and moving toward a more holistic approach.

Follow these tips, and hopefully you won’t lose your readers at hello.


image source: Nectafy

CSI practices the science of marketing at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For help with your multichannel fundraising activities or anything else, , contact us at Answers@Innovairre.com. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter,