Do you have a strategy for your inboxes?

You probably have two—one work and one personal. I actually have three, and all three (much like yours, I’d guess) are inundated with emails every single day—much of it unwanted or unread. Even my work email is starting to clog up with emails from blogs I have subscribed to in hopes that I’d be able to find time each day for some “professional-development”. Though technically not “junk”, these emails don’t hold mandatory meeting invites, questions from clients or project updates that are my responsibility to read. With these “other” emails, I have a choice – to read or not to read.

Most people have a strategy for how they navigate through their inboxes each day. My strategy usually goes something like this: I scroll through my non-work related emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I immediately delete those I have no interest in, reading the subject line of those I do have somewhat of an interest in, and actually opening the emails that I have been waiting for or whose subject lines and preview text have interested me enough to read on.

It makes you wonder: Are your supporters reading your emails? Chances are, unless your emails are falling into one of the 3 “get read” buckets we outlined here, they are ending up at the bottom of the virtual trash can. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

Here are 4 reasons people may NOT be reading your emails and suggestions to avoid ending up in the delete category immediately .

1. Your subject line is boring.

Too harsh? Maybe, but at the end of the day when I am scrolling through my personal inbox, I am quick to delete anything that doesn’t grab my attention. Yes, I may have subscribed to receive a lot of these emails but that doesn’t mean I have time to read each one or have any interest. Make sure your subject line grabs the attention and creates enough curiosity so they will open the email right away.

2. That’s way too much text.

Yes, you got them to open the email with your stellar subject line but your reader takes one look at the copious amount of text and immediately hits that delete button. Online writing is short, concise, and to the point. Use short sentences, bullet points, bold, italics, etc. to get your point across. It should be more of a conversation then long, drawn out paragraphs.

3. They have no interest in the topic.

Segmentation of your database is an important piece in open rates of your emails. You want your reader to feel like the most important person in your organization so don’t treat each one the same. I really like this article about segmenting your audience because donor vs. non-donor isn’t always the best option. It’s probably not how your reader identifies with your organization.

4. You haven’t found the sweet spot.

There is such thing as sending too much email or too little email. You must find your organization’s email sweet spot. The frequency of your email blasts has a huge impact on the success of your email program. The best thing to do is to create an email schedule. You can start with a newsletter, a thank you, an interesting project or event, BUT make sure you are not hitting your readers with an “ask” every time you hit send. Constant “ask” emails with no engaging content in between is the fastest way for them to start hitting delete right when they see your name in their inbox. Remember to be constantly testing your emails’ success. You won’t have success right out of the gate, but with some tweaking along the way you can have a successful email marketing program.

Interested in digging into more of the basics of email success?

Join us for our upcoming Email 101 webinar. We’ll discuss the best practices of email marketing, how to craft effective email messages, and what you need to know before hitting the send button.


Michele is a customer success program manager at Blackbaud, helping customers utilize their Blackbaud online fundraising tools. She has been with Blackbaud almost 5 years and loves to get to know the customers she works with personally. She has a serious passion for online fundraising and you can find her reading blogs and picking the brains of the talented people surrounding her. When she is not reading every post on npEngage she is enjoying the food and sun in Charleston, SC where she currently resides.

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