Email marketing has come a long way in the nonprofit sector, but there are still some fundamental questions good senders should answer before they hit the send button.
I'll be covering several email do's and don'ts at NetWits Summer Camp. Until then, here is a list of five questions every nonprofit should ask themselves before sending an email marketing message:
Who is the audience? If the audience is everyone, then you're doing it wrong. Think about the specific segments of constituents that the messages are being targeted towards. Are they alumni, donors, members, volunteers, activists, board members, staff, lapsed donors, event participants, etc.? Don't forget to make sure that you actually have permission to email these individuals.
What type of email are we sending to this audience? Is it an action focused message like a fundraising appeal or an advocacy action alert? Is it a communication focused message like a monthly enewsletter? Is it an acknowledgement focused message like confirming a gift or event registration? Don't forget to keep track of the various types of emails you send as their performance metrics will be different.
Why are we sending this audience this type of message? If there's not a good reason for sending — don't. Is the call to action, the communication style, and the content of the message clear and concise? If it's not clear to you, then it won't be clear to the recipient. Don't forget to make testing email messages a regular part of your routine.
When are you sending this audience this type of message? We're talking down to the day of the week, hour of the day, and time zone overlap kind of stuff. Is the content of the message time sensitive? Should some audience segments get the message sooner than others? Is this email part of a broader campaign or sequence? Don't forget that the majority of your results from an email campaign happen in the first 48 hours.
How often are you sending this audience any type of message? Do you have a calendar or planning schedule for all online and offline communication? Where are there lots of overlaps? Where are there gaps in the schedule? Don't forget that not emailing enough can be as bad as emailing too much.
Sign up for the "Email Demystified" session at NetWits Summer Camp to learn about more online do's and don'ts.