Growing your email list is core to any nonprofit’s email marketing strategy.

The reason growing your email list is such a big deal is because of attrition. You see, email lists bleed out. People loose interest. Which means fresh blood needs to be added on a regular basis.

Now if you’re like most nonprofits, you probably find email acquisition (like donor acquisition) to be challenging. People have limited time (and limited attention) for yet another email in their already overloaded inbox. Why would they sign up for your list?

A common approach to growing a list is to make the opt-in form more visible, the call to action (CTA) more compelling and the placement perfect, but eventually, even a beautiful form in the right place with the right CTA fails to grow the list as hoped.

There is no inherent pleasure in joining an email list

It’s not enough to ask people to join your email list. You have to give them reasons that are compelling to them.

If you visit the websites of most nonprofits, you will find a critical piece missing in their list-building strategy.

They haven’t the answered WIIFM question.

What’s WIIFM? WIIFM, means “What’s in it for me?”, and is the foundation of any successful marketing strategy. And it’s the secret to effectively building your email list. The truth is, people are asking themselves this question every time you ask them to join your email list.

WIIFM ultimately means making joining your email list so valuable that NOT joining is never an option. And you do this by focusing like a laser on the wants and needs of your audience. You can use Facebook to make people aware of your email list and to bring attention to it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to make people want to join.

 

6 ways to answers the WIIFM question:

 

1. eBooks

With an e-book you can offer a a lot of value for very little money. For example, a dog shelter can put create a short e-book of “How to Housebreak Your Dog in One Week”. As you can imagine, this is a common question for all new (and potential) dog owners. It also helps the dog shelter build a list of people who might have adoption on their mind.

 

2. Sponsor Sweepstakes

This is a perfect way to build an email list AND enhance an partner relationship. The Needham Community Farm is enhancing their relationship with a local pizza shop by offering a chance to win the pizza party. They’re also building their Facebook page fan base by putting a fan-gate on the offer (as shown below).

stonehearth

3. Advocacy

Research has shown that advocates are more likely than non-advocates to donate to the cause for which they signed a petition. If you’re an advocacy organization – like Citizen Action of Wisconsin (below) – you’re probably already doing this.

citizen-action

4. Pledges

Research has also shown that people who pledge to make a donation will likely will follow through on that promise. For example, the American Diabetes Association has a micro site around making a pledge to stop diabetes. People joining this list are likely to support the organization by volunteering or donating.

stop-diebetes

5. Photo Contests

Photo contest can be a powerful way to build your email list, as long as the incentive is huge. Participants know they probably won’t win, so make the value of joining (WIIFM) is really about the chance to win, instead of the actual prize. For example, PetSave New Hampshire (below) offered a weekend getaway for the winner and their dog (a huge incentive).

petsave

6. Action Alerts

Action alerts can be a powerful approach to building a list of volunteers, specifically. After all, they’ve opted into taking some kind of action! Greenpeace international does an excellent job of this in the example below.

greenpeace

The key is in the carrot

The most important part of all the above approaches is that the perceived gain is greater than the pain of joining your email list. Start by asking yourself, “What’s in it for potential email subscribers?”, and “Is this enough to overcome the hurdle of joining our list?”

 

Bonus material …

For those who attended our npEXPERTS webinar series … here are the free Facebook marketing videos [by John] and the slides from the session. Thanks for joining us!

[slideshare id=22150111&doc=usingfacebookgrowemaillist-johnhaydon-130529141207-phpapp02]

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Haydon helps nonprofits change the world with smarter marketing. He is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley), consults for nonprofits and community foundations across the United States, and can ride a bicycle backwards.

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