Get Your Email Read

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Nonprofit Marketing GuidanceThanks to guest blogger Heather Ratcliff. Heather is a web content and social media strategist who blogs at How to Reach People.

Despite shifting online trends, such as growing social media platforms and the rapid growth of text messaging, email should still play a vital role in your communication strategy. Should you send newsletters or emails? How should you segment your list, and how often should you email?

We took on these challenges at a recent NetSquared DC meetup, in which Roshani Kothari and I invited three email experts: Janelle Mackereth with DC Central Kitchen, Erik Leaver with Blackbaud, and Virginie Combet with TechnoServe. (Recording here).

Shape Your E-News around a Clear Brand, Message, and Call-to-Action

Janelle Mackereth is a Graphic Design & Digital Media Specialist at the DC Central Kitchen. We invited her to speak after reading Nancy’s blog post: 5 Steps to Powerhouse E-newsletters (a case study on DC Central Kitchen). Here are a few of the lessons she shared:

  1. Get your organization’s message across. One of the challenges DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) faces is that it is more than a distributor of meals: DCCK also has a job training program, is a contract caterer to schools, delivers produce to stores. The challenge is to show this big picture and inspire supporters to donate or volunteer.
  2. Build relationships with the people who are engaging with you. Segment your list based on behavior—For example, resend emails to people who didn’t open it the first time (changing the subject line).
  3. Use a strategic subject line. Your subject line is precious, so don’t be overly descriptive and dry. Say “A food waste feast for 5,000, a 24-hour match, and more!” rather than “an event where we fed 5,000 people.”

Hone Your Segmentation Strategy to Ensure Emails Are Read by People Who Matter
Here are a few best practices from Erik Leaver, a Customer Success Manager at Blackbaud and former Director of Digital Strategy at United to End Genocide:

  1. What segmentation strategy is right for you? Think about your goals. For example, a fundraising campaigning is different from an event promotion. Make sure you A/B test it.
  2. Link emails to what’s top of mind. Newsletters performed the worst out of all emails sent by United to End Genocide. Emails linked to news headlines performed best.
  3. Look at what people do, NOT what they tell you they do. If you ask people how many emails they want a month, they might say all of them. But then you’ll see they only opened one the next month.

How to Escape the “Uh-Oh” Moment
Since no email service can offer an “unsend” button. Virginie Combet, Digital Marketing Associate at TechnoServe, shared guidance on decreasing errors:

  1. Always proofread texts and links. Everyone thinks they are a great proofreader, but even if we read something multiple times, we miss things.
  2. Do technical testing. Test your email on mobile and on desktop, and Gmail and Outlook.
  3. Use targeted messages. Segmentation is key, but segmenting an existing database is a huge pain so even if you have a small list, start segmenting it now. Segmenting one-time donors from recurring donors makes a huge difference.

How are you connecting with your audience via your e-newsletter?  Please let me know here!

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