Email marketing continues to be an important aspect of any organization’s communication strategy, and perhaps even more integral to the success of today’s nonprofit.
Before getting into how to craft your email marketing campaign for an upcoming Giving Day, let’s quickly go over why email marketing is so important.
Why Email Marketing?
1. Cost Effective
The first reason is because email is affordable. Your only expense is time, and if you use a scheduling service like Constant Contact, you can set it and forget it.
2. Instant Connection
Do you need your donors and volunteers to do something right away? Email allows immediate dissemination. No one has time to have things printed, folded, and mailed!
3. Quick Re-Engagement
Your donors and volunteers can respond to you quickly and easily via email. Turnaround time on emails is 1-3 days.
4. Campaign Insights
Email gives you information on how your campaign is working. Most people don’t know that you can track open rates on emails and see how often your readers are using the links within them. Use this information to analyze how well your messaging is working, then tweak and send again.
5. Tailored Messaging
Email allows you to send the right message to the right reader. A first-time donor versus a long-time donor – do you send them both the same message? What about volunteers? Your message should and can be crafted to engage your different constituents through proper segmentation.
How to Get Started
Now that we’ve reviewed why email marketing is important, let’s get started on how to craft your email marketing campaign!
To begin, the first thing you need to do is build an email list. Maintaining a complete and reliable list of constituents will directly impact the success of your campaign, events, and organization as a whole.
Gathering Email Addresses:
Add a field for email on any materials that will be filled by your constituents. Be it a survey, a sponsorship commitment form, or any other response form; this is something that should always be included. Also, whenever at an event where there will be a number of your donors/volunteers attending, have a sign-in sheet and include a field for this.
Be honest about why you want this information and ask them to always provide it, as you’d like to be sure your records are up to date. If you are consistently providing them with engaging information, they will not mind you contacting them via email.
The best place to gather email information is on your website. That being said, it is important that you are constantly driving people to your website by using your URL in your signature line of your email, on all print materials, and as often as possible in social media posts.
Once someone lands on your website, prominently promote where folks can register for your newsletter, find more information about volunteering/donating, and view all your special events. Keep in mind that less is more! Do not ask for tons of information; a name and email is enough to get them started.
Though this falls under the online category, I like to keep p2p fundraising separate, as there are so many ways to generate interest in your organization by asking your current volunteers and donors to share information to their social networks. Whether it is a fundraising campaign, special event invitation, or newsletter, using your constituents to maximize your message can only help.
Ensuring Your Emails are Read:
Getting your volunteers and donors to read and not delete your emails is a difficult task. Across all industries, the average open rate for email is about 20-40% with about 50% of that happening within the first 6 hours after you send the email. Though there is no way to guarantee an increase in open rate, there are a few things you can try.
- First and foremost make sure your list is up to date. If you are sending emails to boxes that don’t exist anymore, you are doing nothing to help your organization.
- Make it easy for your supporters to choose what types of emails they would like to see from you and how often.
- Experiment with subject lines and definitely do not use the same one ALL THE TIME. Keep your content short and sweet, and put the most important information at the top of the message.
- Try sending emails on a different day. If you always send the newsletter the first Monday of every month and your open rate is 15%, well guess what…it may be time to change things up!
Crafting an Effective Email Campaign
Whether you are sending one email message or multiple messages over time, strategic marketing is going to be very important. Given that this campaign is geared towards a particular event, your Giving Day, you are going to want to be sure that each message is building upon the last and that they are directed to the appropriate segment of your constituent population.
1. Create a Communication Schedule
In the days and weeks leading up to your event, it’s important to determine how frequently you want to communicate with donors and volunteers. You may have to adjust your schedule based on the feedback you get and you do not want to damage relationships or leave people feeling uninformed. Make sure to stay on top of the following items:
- Coordinate all communications within your organization. If you have a marketing department, have them help you develop a strategy for the entire organization. Otherwise, you will need to communicate with all departments about what messaging is going out when so as not to bombard constituents with repetitive or competing messaging.
- Pay attention to day and time of delivered emails. You may find that most of your constituents are only reading email on the weekends or first thing in the morning. You’ll want to target your messages for whatever time garners you the highest open rate.
- Let the importance of your messaging determine the frequency. As you get closer to your Giving Day, you will want to up the frequency. Do not make the mistake of bombarding your readers with messaging early on, as it will only decrease the importance of later messaging.
2. Choose the Right Message for the Right Recipient
- First and foremost, make sure you know your audience. Is your message being directed to all constituents? Or might it better serve your intent by segmenting your list for a target audience?
- Second, make sure your message line is short and sweet; use action words that draw in the reader so that they will open your email.
3. Design the Body of your Email to Elicit a Response
- A picture is worth a thousand words. Not only focus on images that draw the reader in, but also consider font, colors, and layout as well. This is also a great way to include your brand within your message.
- Keep the meat of the message above the fold. We all hope that if our emails are opened the whole thing is being read, but just in case, be sure the keep the most important items above the fold. If your readers have to scroll to find out what you want them to know, they may never get the message.
- Even better, keep it short. Don’t send a novel, just share a highlight. Your constituents want to know how you’re using their dollars to support the organization’s mission, but as opposed to sending a detailed list, share some highlights along with a nice summary.
- Send them to your website. Instead of putting everything in your email message, drive your readers back to your website. This allows you to keep your message short, but allow readers the opportunity to learn more if they like.
4. Personalize your Message
Last but not least, always use your email marketing to create and develop relationships with your supporters by sending them messages that pique their interests, motivate them to action, and engage them in further dialog.
Also, addressing your readers by name will add a personal touch to your email communications, and can help you to garner a better response rate. A good email marketing tool can help you to do this and allow you to track open rates as well.