I receive a lot of email newsletters – from nonprofit organizations, from businesses and from consultants.
In recent months, I dramatically pruned by email subscriptions. This was mostly due to lack of time to read all of them, but it was also due to the fact that most email newsletters are just plain awful.
Hard to read, useless, spammy and worst of all – BORING.
This is my public service announcement to the nonprofits out there. Change your communications now or risk alienating your mailing list!
You have an important advantage when marketing. In the traditional sense, you aren’t selling anything. You should be using all of your communication channels to showcase your impact and prove that you are a good steward of funds. You want to move people, to get them motivated, to get them angry and to get them on board.
Emails should be demonstrating the ways that you make a different every day, as well as inspiring people to become involved in your mission. This is a lot different than the once-per-day flash sale emails from Banana Republic.
Email is not dead and despite what you may think, it should play a critical part in your fundraising and marketing strategy.
Here are 5 simple things you can do today to make those nonprofit email newsletters even better.
- Make it mobile friendly.
Did you know that over 50% of people use their mobile devices to check their email? I know that’s the first thing I do in the morning, to make sure there are no fires to put out or cancelled meetings.
Can your email newsletter be easily digested and read on a mobile phone? Make sure to test it to make sure. Try it on several types of phones and with different mobile email apps.
- Use images.
When I say “use images” I mean use them sparingly. Make them count!
Too many images will take forever to load, may get stripped out of the email and will look cluttered on mobile devices.
A large, clear and compelling image is usually best. Make sure to label the image with action words, not just “Food Shelter 1”
For example, label your logo “Click to visit our website” so that even if people can’t see the logo, they may be inspired to click. Label a photo of an event “Register for our event here!” in case the photo gets stripped.
- Keep it short!
One or two calls to action per email please. You can always link back to your website – and you should – so people can get more information.
This may mean you need to send more emails per month, rather than cramming every single call to action, news announcement and event registration into one lengthy email. Test out sending more frequent emails and measure the results.
PRO TIP: Stop thinking about Open Rate! This drives me crazy. You may have an open rate of 100%, but if no one is clicking on your links or answering your call to action, then what good is that email? Think about the goal of the email before you send. How will you know that you have been successful?
- Think of the subject line.
This is where I differ from a lot of other marketers. People are wise to cute, witty email subject lines that are basically click bait.
If you have had success with calling your emails “June Email Newsletter” than by all means stick to that. If people expect it and look forward to it, changing it up may hurt your open rates.
You may want to test out more compelling subject lines, but don’t get too cutesy, don’t include too much punctuation and do NOT write in all caps – those will get you sent to the spam folder in the blink of an eye.
- Break it up.
Use bold headlines, sub headlines, bullets, lists and lots of white space. Use black, non-serif font on white background. Make it very easy to read – no tiny fonts with a variety of colors!