Does your agency use email effectively as a marketing tool?


Keep your non-profit email marketing out of the Trash Can

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1Does this sound familiar? You spend hours preparing your agency’s e-newsletter. After proofreading it and perfecting it, you click send and hope it survives the delete button.

Chapter three of “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko did not just hit home for me, but it provided some phenomenal insight on how to increase the likelihood that your e-news will make it past the Trash Can and make an impact.

E-mail is so common, sometimes its power as a marketing tool is overlooked as the new and flashy social media trends continue to emerge.

What are the benefits of utilizing e-mail for marketing?  Let’s take a look:

  • What other marketing medium allows you to reach 5,000 to 50,000 of your potential customers for (nearly) free or a very small cost?
  • What other marketing tool allows you to count how many impressions, responses, conversations, and pass- alongs your e-mail had?

Well, there you have it! This e-newsletter is important, can make a difference, and is trackable and affordable. Eureka!

But wait . . . there are tricks to the trade that you need to learn in order to maximize the effectiveness of your agency’s email strategy.

Content is King

wiifmThe most important question in all marketing is one we broached in last week’s blog — WIIFM — “What’s In It for Me?

With e-mail you have to convert the WIIFM for your reader quickly, and I mean within seconds.

Many times, just with a glance of the subject line, you are asking your recipient to quickly calculate their investment in reading your message.

Think about your organization, and how you communicate with donors. Every time you ask them to open a piece of direct mail, look at an e-mail or visit your website, there is a transaction. It is not a one-time thing either, every time you have to convince them of their WIIFM.

This entire concept is presented by Safkow in this passage:

“Suppose for some reason, that you really wanted to read the newspaper advertisements today. Your eyes are scanning over the pages of many ads, one of which catches your eye. You decide to not turn the page, but to look at the heading for that ad. How long do you think you are willing to spend to determine if the WIIFM is worth your stopping to read further? A study showed that people are willing to invest or spend only 1.54 seconds of time to make that determination.”

Wow! As I read on, Safko unveiled some great information to help maximize my e-mail efforts.

Your subject line has to convince your recipient in roughly 1.5 seconds whether he should move on to the next stage of investment.

If they decide to continue reading, you now have a whopping 5 seconds! Although much more time than 1.5 seconds, it only allows a person to read about one sentence.

So, within the first seconds of reading your e-mail message, your reader must find WIIFM to remain engaged. If you successfully do this, you move into the third phase which is conversion.

Your reader is likely to read on and follow your call to action, or click-through to your website.

Always remember . . . your e-mail message should always be about building and strengthening a relationship with the reader.

Practice makes Perfect

segmentingAs you work to perfect your strategies, it is important to take some time to test it through what Safko calls segmenting.

Segmenting is no more than splitting your distribution list. Split the list into five and send the exact same body of the message, but with five different subject lines. When doing this, remember to:

  • Pay close attention to the nouns, verbs and adjectives you use.
  • Take your time and be deliberate.
  • Send it out and see if there was a difference in the open rates or click-through rates.

Next, test the first line, again taking care with how you craft it. See the results and keep doing what seems to work.

Finally, test some different times of the day in sending the e-mails.

Ultimately, after about a year, you will have perfected your delivery to maximize your efforts and engage your readers.

How have you worked to perfect your e-mail efforts? What challenges have you found? Success?
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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on December 9, 2013, in nonprofit, technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hi Rose, I am very glad to find this great post. The information you have provided in this post is very effective for the people who are utilizing an email marketing. I would like to thank you Rose for your great work. Keep it up….

  2. Thank you so much for your comment! Good luck in all your marketing endeavors!

  3. I think one of the greatest challenges I have faced is following up on my email marketing campaigns to gauge their progress. Also, sometimes it can become difficult to develop content worthy of being called “king.”

    • Hi Barbara . . . thanks for reading the blog. I hope you’re enjoying Rose Reinert’s guest blogs. I think she is great!

      When I read your comment about “content,” I couldn’t help but jump into the discussion because you are dead on target. I’ve had DonorDreams blog up and running for about 2.5 years now, and I try to post every day. Developing awesome content is not always easy, but I find that reading other blogs helps inspire new ideas and spinoffs.

      I also found something else when I started blogging. I started looking at the world around me differently. My clients, the stuff I watch on TV or listen to on the radio, and everything I encounter helps me develop content. I find myself constantly asking myself “Huh, I wonder how that fits into a blog post? Is there an analogy to draw? Is there an angle to pursue?” I know it sounds crazy, but this blog has changed my life.

      Good luck with email marketing and content creation. Please circle back periodically and let us know how it is going!

      ~Erik

  4. Thanks Barbara for your comment!

    I agree- as I work to write anything if it is this post or an e-mail blast, I start off a bit overwhelmed by the reality that the message could fall flat. It is hard to predict what will resonate with your audience, even when you know your audience well.

    In regards to tracking, I have found that “What gets measured gets done.” Start reviewing your progress perhaps twice a month, or even once a month just to start getting into the habit. As you learn more about what you can track- you can set goals and report out to show the benefits of your efforts!

    Thanks again for reading and sharing!

  1. Pingback: Is your non-profit’s website changing with the times? | Donor Dreams Blog

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