Subject-line lessons from the Presidential campaign

by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing.

Ever since the Obama campaign’s famous one-word subject line — “Hey” — from 2012, it’s practically a tradition for fundraisers to learn from political emails.

Take the email strategy from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Like all campaigns, they test and use a variety of email subject lines, and according to an NPR report, Why Political Fundraising Emails Work, there are a handful of subject-line themes that are working well for Team Hillary.

When you’re trolling for a subject line for your email, it might be helpful to see how you can adapt these themes:

  • Reaction to events. One of Hillary’s subject lines was “What did you think of last night’s debate?” Another was “So. Mad. Can’t. Type.” This was one of the best-performing themes for Hillary. For non-political fundraising, we can try to adapt it where possible, with lines like “What about that letter I sent you?” Or, “Worried about Zika?” Or, “Can’t believe this matching grant.”
  • Invitations. Hillary’s subject line was “Dinner with Bill?” For other fundraising, we might say “Running in our 10k?” Or “Seen this video from the Ecuador earthquake?”
  • Merchandise. Hillary’s subject line was “Shop the new holiday collection.” For other fundraising, we’d probably refer to a gift catalog, like: “Shop this Save-a-Life Catalog.” Or, “WOW – two goats – $10.”
  • General campaign messages. Hillary’s subject line was “You shouldn’t miss this.” For other fundraising, it could be something like “I hope you get this in time.” Or, “What if you don’t see this?”
  • Calls to action. Hillary’s subject line was “Go vote!” For other fundraising, it might be “Save lives!” Or “Fight cancer!”
  • Event announcements. Hillary’s subject line was “See Hillary in Orlando.” For other fundraising, it could be “See this little boy in Africa, he’s starving.” Or, “See what this volunteer’s doing in Nepal.”

The main thing, according to the experts in political emails, is for the subject as well as the entire email to strike a tone that’s casual, like a human interaction. Good advice for all fundraising.


Comments

2 responses to “Subject-line lessons from the Presidential campaign”

  1. I’ve actually found Hillary’s fundraising emails to be rather tired (and this is coming from a supporter). Bernie’s, on the other hand, were masterful. http://www.nonprofitpro.com/post/re-love-olution-digital-fundraising-lessons-bernie-sanders/

  2. I’ve actually found Hillary’s fundraising emails to be rather tired (and this is coming from a supporter). Bernie’s, on the other hand, were masterful. http://www.nonprofitpro.com/post/re-love-olution-digital-fundraising-lessons-bernie-sanders/

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.