I recently published edition number 700 of my Your Daily Dose of Nonprofit enewsletter.
I’m proud of the very high click thru rate, the almost unanimous positive feedback and how the enews has grown since I hit “send” on edition number one.
Along the way I’ve made many mistakes, conducted numerous tests and worked to find just the right balance of friendly user experience plus content that provides value.
I’ve also learned many lessons which I then incorporate into ebooks, presentations and more. Today I’d like to share with you seven lessons I learned which I hope help you boost your email fundraising and marketing efforts.
No days off!
I’m a proud fan of the New England Patriots. One of Coach Bill Belichick’s favorite sayings is “no days off.” Every day is a chance to get better at your craft.
As an enews publisher, I made a promise to my subscribers: Read. Learn. Grow. Implement. I have to make sure that each edition I send makes good on that promise.
Every single day.
The same goes for every fundraising and marketing campaign, every email, every piece of direct mail, every social media post you share with your audience: You’ve got to bring it!
They may not open every email you send or see every Instagram post. But for those who open and view, your content must provide value and encourage them to take action.
If a piece of content falls completely flat, it’s possible that your audience will hesitate to open, read and engage with subsequent content.
Don’t just throw an email together in 30 seconds and send. Put thought into it. Consider how your audience will receive it.
I am a HUGE fan of feedback. Take my enewsletter for example: The footer of every single edition asks for subscriber feedback.
- I want to know if what I’m sending hits or misses the mark. Without that, how will I know if the enews is successful?
- When I get feedback and reaction, I’m now able to have a one-to-one conversation with an individual subscriber.
And that’s what you want!
Email is a conversation between someone at your organization and an individual subscriber. If they reply to your email, that allows you to get to know them better and build the relationship. Which will of course boost your fundraising and marketing programs.
Worried about negative feedback? You need to hear that as well! Know what doesn’t work and avoid it in the future.
Request it because feedback is gold.
Find the right design
Content matters but so does design.
Consider how you read emails: You scan and skim. Your subscribers do exactly the same thing.
If your design is cluttered, with too many different fonts or design elements, people will bounce. Your design has to help make it easy for people to consume your content.
I have tweaked and worked on the design. I have found what works and stick with it. My subscribers are easily able to find what they want and click.
Yes, I still test small changes. But in general, once I found a rhythm that converts, I stayed with it. And so have my subscribers.
Your email footer is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in every email you send.
It’s not just a place for your physical address and link to unsubscribe. It’s a great place to add a simple call to action:
Connect on social.
Add your social media icons in your email footer. Allow people to engage with you in different places. They’re not going to open every email you send. Give them a chance to view and connect with your content elsewhere.
Get to know your subscribers!
Email is a conversation. The more you know about subscribers, the better your relationship is. The more you know about individual subscribers, the more accurate your campaign segmentation will be.
One of the best ways to learn about people’s preferences is through a subscriber survey. I have a lot to say about this but instead will foreshadow: I have a separate blog post coming out soon about surveys and their importance to your fundraising and marketing.
Fundraising and marketing are a two-way street. If it’s always one-way with your organization constantly asking for money and providing nothing in return, people will ignore your emails.
Signing up for your enewsletter isn’t a given. People’s inboxes are overflowing. If they’ve allowed you in, make it worthwhile!
Share a variety of content. Educate subscribers. Share stories and data. Demonstrate impact.
I don’t just share four sector related posts every day. I add my advice, best practices and tips to enhance the learning experience.
The goal? I want my subscribers to feel that opening the email every day brings them value.
Your organization must do the same. It’s ok to send email asks but make sure that’s not the only content you’re sharing.
When readers consider every email to be an ask, they’re going to move on and stop opening your emails.
The retention rate in the sector sucks. Email can be an excellent platform for boosting retention. When used right.
It’s ok to make people smile
I know we’re talking about serious issues: Hunger. Childhood cancer. War. Natural disasters. Homelessness.
But if everything is a downer…
It’s not just success stories you share post-donation that make people feel good. It can also be the way you present content to your readers.
I wrote about this great example from the Student Conservation Association after Giving Tuesday. I’ll share it with you again:
Great image plus fun facts = a fun call to action!
Readers of this email probably smiled. Odds are they read about all five giving options with the puffin fun fact. I don’t have the data to prove this but I’m willing to bet this email converted really well.
Donors want to impact their community. They want to do good. They want to be part of a larger community of do gooders.
It’s ok to make readers smile and even chuckle. They still understand the seriousness of your cause but now they’re giving with a smile on their face.
That’s not a bad thing.
Lessons from 700 enewsletters
Those are seven email lessons you can learn from and use.
Want to boost your email fundraising and marketing efforts? Sign up for The Weekly SEND! In just five minutes a week, via video- for FREE!- I’ll show you how to create emails that people read and react to.