(Hint: It’s All About Relationships)!

Some people might incorrectly say that email marketing is having a resurgence. As one of the first outbound marketing tools, email marketing received a lot of hype three decades ago. Contrary to what some people may think, it never disappeared; it just took a backseat to all the new social media bells and whistles. But the pendulum always swings back.  Email marketing is once again being recognized as a critical component of digital marketing. 

And with good reason. Studies show that nonprofit organizations that incorporate email marketing into their digital marketing mix attract more supporters. As mentioned in an earlier post, emailing marketing was the source of 28 % of all online revenue for nonprofits in 2017. 

Once engaged, supporters want to hear from you. In a recent survey, more than 61% said they want to receive stories about how a nonprofit’s cause has affected real people and how their services have helped. Another nearly 60% want to receive information about results and how your organization is spending the money it receives in donations.

All of which are excellent reasons to plan or upgrade your email marketing efforts. 

1. Make Developing and Growing Your Email List a Priority

Many nonprofit organizations abandoned email marketing during the rise of social media in the 2010s. Today it continues to be a very cost-effective and powerful communication tool used by all generations. Contrary to what you may think, email is the preferred channel for gathering information, even with younger generations, such as Millennials and Generation Z.

Nonprofit Megaphone’s newly launched Visitor Email Add-On is the easy and best (just a bit of shameless promotion) way to build and grow your email list. It turns your website visitors into email subscribers. The system can typically identify email addresses for approximately 20 percent of your website traffic and integrate with any email marketing system (HubSpot, MailChimp, etc.) to avoid any duplicates without affecting the user experience. Schedule a call with one of our digital marketing experts for details. Other options include:

  • Adding an e-newsletter sign-up box on each page of your website.
  • Adding a pop-up to your website.
  • Creating a social media promo graphic.

2. Optimize Your Emails for Mobile

It’s essential to optimize your emails for mobile. Sixty-two percent of email is opened on a mobile device. Regardless of how good your content is, if an email displays poorly on a mobile device, it’s likely to be deleted in under three seconds. As many as 15% of users will even unsubscribe instead of delete.

3. Start with a Welcome Email

Email marketing services offer the functionality to easily create a welcome email for new subscribers and create a Welcome Email Series, and subscribers pay attention to welcome emails! Who doesn’t like to be graciously welcomed?!

Your welcome email can feature various content, such as a video about your organization’s work, a short message from your executive director, an urgent call-to-donate, or merely a welcome and request-to-follow on social media.

Sometimes people need direction. You can get readers involved by including a call-to-action (CTA). Subscribe now, donate to make a difference, and see our work in action on this video are samples of CTAs.

4. Manage the List and Re-engage with Email

There are several reasons a subscriber may stop opening your emails:

  • Your emails are going to their spam folders
  • The email address is no longer in use
  • They are no longer interested so they’re ignoring your emails 

Sending emails willy-nilly without managing your email list can be costly. It’s estimated that nearly $100 million in donations through email appeals was lost to nonprofit organizations in 2019 due to spam. Sending emails to hundreds or even thousands of people who do not open your emails can also harm your email campaigns’ overall deliverability by, over time, decreasing your overall open rate. Despite that information, 69% of nonprofit organizations admit sending emails, even if the subscriber is no longer engaged. 

Email marketing services, such as Constant Contact and Mail Chimp, make it easy to segment your list to learn who has not opened an email within the last six months or longer.

Try to capture people who haven’t opened your emails for a long time by sending them a re-engagement email or series. For example, re-send them an email that got a good response in the past. Keep sending emails for a few weeks with a different subject line or an urgent fundraising appeal. You get the drill. If they still don’t open your emails, delete them from your list. It will instantly increase your open rate and improve your deliverability.

5. Keep it simple

If you’re reading through this and thinking, “I’m busy. I don’t have time to design email templates,” don’t worry; it doesn’t need to be complicated. Keep these few things in mind to create simple yet effective emails: 

  • Keep it brief: The idea is to let people know about the great work your organization is doing succinctly. Don’t overwhelm them by sharing too much information in a single email. 
  • Don’t go crazy using too many colors in your emails: The goal isn’t to use all the colors in the box of crayons. Too many colors can distract from your message. If you’re not sure what colors to use, stick to the colors used in your logo and other marketing materials.  
  • Be careful with images: Images are great, and we all know that a picture’s worth a thousand words, but unless using an image is an absolute necessity for your email, posting it elsewhere and including a link is a better option. Images can take a long time to load, and with so many people accessing emails on their mobile devices, load times have to be quick, or else your audience will close or delete the email.

6. Personalize and Use Short Subject Lines to Maximize Open Rates

 Remember, email marketing is all about building relationships, but you can’t begin the work of cultivating or nurturing a relationship if the recipients don’t open your email. Statistically, the average open rate for nonprofit emails was slightly over 20% in 2019. Suppose you want your number to be above average. In that case, you need to use well-written, captivating subject lines, personalize your emails, and consistently provide curated, exciting news updates, inspirational stories, and visual content.

Personalization is important. Merely addressing a subscriber by their first name can increase open rates by as much as 29%! There are also sophisticated options that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically segment subscribers into different lists based on the content they click, what time they open your email, etc.

7. Always Include a Call-to-Action

Part of building relationships includes engaging people, and CTAs (calls-to-action) motivated readers to get involved. Subscribe now, donate to make a difference, and see our work in action on this video are samples of CTAs.

8. Monitor and Reply to Emails Promptly 

If people respond to your email, be sure to reply immediately. A response could mean someone has a question about your mission, how they can donate, or how they can volunteer. Not regularly checking and responding to inquiries could mean you’re missing out on new opportunities.

9. Be Vigilant About Email Security

Unfortunately, email spambots and phishing attacks are ever-present. You must demonstrate to readers that you take email security seriously. Nonprofit Tech for Good reported that in 2019, over 5,000 fake email accounts subscribed to its email list through a free third-party MailChimp WordPress Plugin, which was a costly and time-consuming mistake. Emal spambots have become so advanced that all 5,000 of the fake email accounts could get through a double opt-in requirement. All of them opened the welcome email but didn’t open any other email after that. 

Require a double opt-in, add a captcha to your email sign up forms, and avoid free email sign up plugins and apps to protect your organization and put potential supporters at ease. Also, it’s a good idea to arrange for your staff to get cybersecurity training. Two recommendations include ILLUSIO and NTEN.

If you want to increase your conversion rate (and we know you do), email marketing is an effective and affordable option and should be part of your digital marketing strategy!

And, as always, to find out more about how to get the most from your Google Ad Grant, get in touch with our team of professional Google Grant experts. We love helping nonprofit organizations succeed!