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How Do Colors and Fonts Impact Fundraising Email Results?

As part of Crescendo's recent email study, we tested the use of colors and fonts and how they impacted email results.  Using the same subject line, “Protect Your Loved Ones and Create Your Legacy,” we sent two similar emails on June 15 for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) just changing colors to evaluate click-through-rates (CTR). Version A had dark text on a white background, and Version B had light text on a dark background.

With dark text on a light background, Version A had a higher CTR (8.65%). A number of typography studies have confirmed our conclusion that dark text on light background is easier to read. Some people say dark-on-light is less tiring on the eyes. Others suggest it seems to better hold the reader’s attention — which becomes more noticeable the longer you read. Also, the blue download button was more inviting than the black button used in Version B.

These conclusions, however, are not absolute. In an earlier test we performed, the light-on-dark design generated a higher CTR than the opposite version. We suggest using a light-on-dark design only if the email is short. Long blocks of text usually read better as dark-on-light.

Serif or Sans Serif Fonts?

Serif fonts (such as Times) feature embellished strokes. Sans serif fonts (such as Arial) feature plain strokes. While a matter of preference, sans serif fonts provide better readability for emails.

More important than font selection is font size and text formatting. We recommend short paragraphs, headlines and bullet points to make the copy easy to read and scan. Bold and italics can be used for emphasis but should be used sparingly or the intended effect will be lost. Underlining is best reserved for links and should be avoided with static text. Line spacing and paragraph margins should be consistent to improve readability.

For more ways to generate results with your emails, please contact Crescendo at 1-800-858-9154.

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About Kristen Schultz Jaarda, JD, LLM

Kristen Schultz Jaarda

Kristen Schultz Jaarda is Executive Vice President of Crescendo Interactive, Inc. She specializes in charitable tax planning and online marketing for planned gifts. She is responsible for client education and leads Crescendo's marketing services and support team. She is a nationally recognized speaker, conducts seminars nationwide and is a principal faculty member of GiftCollege.

Kristen serves as a board member for the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) and as a member of the ACGA Rates and State Regulations Committees, Editorial Advisory Board member for Planned Giving Today, Committee Member for the ABA Charitable Planning and Organization's Group, past Legislative Chair and a board member for the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Los Angeles (PPP-LA), a member of the Ventura County Planned Giving Council and a committee member and volunteer for several California charities. She writes weekly for CrescendoTweet and her planned giving blog.

Previously, Kristen served as Counsel to the Assistant Secretary of Education in Washington, D.C. and was Oversight Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. Prior to that, she worked in a public affairs law practice. Kristen graduated from UCLA School of Law where she was Law Review Editor. She completed her Tax LL.M. with honors at Loyola School of Law. Kristen is a member of the California State Bar, D.C. Bar and the Maryland State Bar.


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