Navigating the world of email marketing for a nonprofit can be tough, especially as inboxes become more and more crowded. To break through the noise and make a genuine, helpful connection with your donors, consider how automation, mobile design, calls to action, subject lines, list growth and segmentation come into play within your email marketing. The following piece will explore those topics in more depth.
Automate to reach donors at the right time.
Some marketers are hesitant to embrace automation, but it’s an easy way to both save time and send more personalized messages. Nonprofits should consider it a win-win. Think of a thank you email: if someone makes a donation to your nonprofit, that should trigger an automated email thanking them for doing so. Or, if someone signs up for your email list, you should automate a welcome series that asks them to set their preferences, introduces some of your biggest projects, and asks them to get involved.
Not only will you be able to scale your work more efficiently, you will get great results in the process: Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages, according to Epsilon Email Institute. These are some of the highest-performing emails you could ever send, so don’t miss this critical opportunity to build customer loyalty.
- Design with mobile in mind.
Your audience is likely checking their inbox on a phone, so now more than ever, emails should look beautiful whether they’re opened on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. When in doubt, design for a small screen first. Nonprofit marketers can create compelling mobile-friendly content by focusing on the following strategies: arranging content in a single-column format, Incorporating white space throughout and organizing content with sections clearly designated with headers and dividers. Effective mobile design helps boost click rates, helps engage your audience when they are on the go and increases credibility for your brand.
- Include a compelling call to action.
Speaking of mobile: be sure to use buttons over text links for your primary call to action, since buttons are much easier to see and tap on a small screen. An effective CTA button should tell you exactly what happens when you click through. That doesn’t mean every call-to-action button should say “donate now,” though. For instance, charity: water often gets creative with their call-to-action language, avoiding words like “donate” in favor of language like this: “Say it with water.”
- Test your subject lines.
Because it’s one of the primary criteria recipients will use to decide whether or not to open or delete your email, subject lines should be compelling and irresistible to open. Subject lines are competitive by nature, so marketers should take advantage of this behavior by split testing them against one another. Split testing is an easy way to boost open rates, and simple subject line changes can produce big results for nonprofits.
- Make list growth a priority.
Your email marketing can only be as successful as the quality of your subscriber list. Because the average list churns 25-30% year-over-year, you need to constantly be growing your audience with new subscribers.
Growing your list ultimately starts on your website, and knowing how and where to use the right tools on your site is important. For instance, Emma customer Thistle Farms set up their lightbox signup form to appear on a 7-second time delay. That way, people have enough time to get to their website, comprehend what they’re doing, and sign up for the Thistle Farms email list if they want to. If not, it’s easy for website visitors to exit the form and go about their business.
- Segment for relevant messaging.
Once you’ve gathered subscribers and welcomed them to your list, you NEED to be segmenting whenever possible, even if it’s just by how they signed up or their engagement with that first welcome email. The best email marketing relies on relevant, personalized messaging, and segmentation is what will get you there. Some key things to segment by…
- How they signed up
- Engagement (highly engaged, inactive, etc.)
- Donation amount
- By any action, really. If you have the data, use it!
Wrapping it up
Strategic email marketing is critical to nurturing current donors and converting prospective ones. Email is king for all organizations, but especially nonprofits. Take into account this stat: 47% of marketers report that email generates the most ROI for their organization, and 58% plan to increase spending on email marketing during the next year. Now’s the time for nonprofits to optimize their email marketing strategies, and the tips in this article should help set them up for success.
Nora Snoddy is Director of Marketing at Emma, a leading email marketing company. With an extensive background in public relations and marketing, she spearheads Emma’s campaign planning, brand management, and lead generation efforts. Nora holds a bachelor degree from Penn State University and an MBA from Belmont University. She’s also an active member of the Junior League of Nashville and an accomplished Irish dancer – a skill she’ll occasionally showcase at the annual Emma Talent Show.