May 4, 2021 Amy Sewell

The difference between a message that is read and one put directly in the trash is simple—your carrier envelope in print mail . . . and your subject line, sender, and preheader in email. These elements have one job—get the message opened! Done well, they are the first step toward donations. Done poorly, your organization is left wondering what happened.

So, what can you do to make sure to get as many people into your message as possible? As you put your next message together, we offer these quick tips for improved open rates:

        • For Direct Mail:
        • – The carrier envelope is key! Tease the content, but don’t give it all away.
        • – Do not use metered mail. Live stamps work best. We’ve tested this!
        • – Use of color and envelope size can help grab attention. Think about what you are communicating and what can make this message stand out from everything else in the mailbox. And remember to test when you are uncertain.
        • For email:
        • – Use the subject line to leave donors wanting to know more.
        • – Subject lines should be short. No more than 5-7 words.
        • – Emojis grab attention. Use them in your emails and social posts when appropriate. 🙌 😀
        • – Try out different digital senders. Sometimes using a different sender name can actually make the message stand out in an inbox.
        • – Preheader text should not contain the offer. It builds on the subject line to increase interest in opening your message.
        • Test: When possible, don’t deploy changes to your full file. Keep your “control” for the majority of the list, and then try new things with test groups each time you send. If you don’t have the budget to test through print, test as much as possible in digital first.

One final reminder . . . getting your communication opened only gets you part of the way to a donation. Once you get the donor reading your message, make sure you provide a reason why someone should give, and give now, in everything that you send.

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