To make fundraising appeal emails more mobile-friendly, we’ve heard it’s good to include a link to a web page version of the email. That way, if the email isn’t rendering well, your constituents can view it on a web page instead.

But that assumes constituents are opening your email. When it comes to nonprofit fundraising appeals, only 12% of emails are actually opened.

And while meant to improve the mobile experience, a web page version can actually hurt your results. Not because it is included, but because of where it’s included.

Many nonprofits include “Having trouble viewing this email? Click here” at the top of their email. Unbeknownst to them, that language often creeps into a critical part of the mobile inbox — the preheader.

For years, we’ve heard the From Name and Subject Line are important in getting your emails opened. With the mobile inbox now the priority, the preheader is now the third critical piece to pay attention to.

What is the Preheader?

The preheader is the two lines of text that appear under your subject line, as seen here:

Charity Water Preheader

The preheader should be an extension of your subject line. The best ones work hand-in-hand with the subject line to convince people to open your email.

Here are a few really good examples:

Best Friends Preheader

Wildlife Conversation Preheader

Easter Seals Preheader

See how the preheader complements the subject line? Constituents know more about 10,000 reasons to adopt, why battle lines have been drawn and what there’s 5 days left to do.

Conversely, here are examples where the preheader isn’t used as well:

CH Preheader

Katherine Preheader

In the above examples, there’s a disconnect between the subject line and preheader. While constituents are used to seeing this, it’s a missed opportunity.

How Preheaders Impact Engagement

And as subject lines have become shorter – often only about the first 35 characters appear in the mobile inbox – the preheader has become more important. Here are 4 ways the preheader helps to engage your constituents:

  1. It gives you extra room to convince constituents to open your email.
  2. On a desktop – if you have Outlook pulled up or are signed into your Google account – the preheader is part of the alert that briefly appears in the bottom right corner when a new message arrives.
  3. On a desktop, it’s also visible in your Gmail and Yahoo inbox (and probably others, too).
  4. Beyond opening your email, it can spark an initial interest in reading your email.

How to Set Your Preheader

So how can you set your preheader?

While you can code it into the HTML, many nonprofits may not be comfortable doing that. So try this. At the very top of your email, at a sentence for your preheader. Then, make sure to send test emails to yourself and check the preheader on your mobile device.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Snusz brings over 11+ years of nonprofit experience to his role as a principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud. He focuses on helping nonprofits create online fundraising, email, P2P, social media, SEO, analytics and website optimization strategies to maximize giving opportunities. Mike previously managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell, including the event’s growth from $330,000 to $1.2 million over a three-year period. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn and Twitter at @mikesnusz. To learn how Mike can help your organization’s next fundraising campaign, contact him at mike.snusz@blackbaud.com.

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