Yesterday, I blogged about the mountain of direct mail that I received in 2009. Some was good. Some was bad. Some was ugly. Despite decades of using direct mail some nonprofits still can make mistakes. It happens.
Today, I want talk about the 57 email messages that I received from nonprofit organizations during the last week of 2009. Now, the challenge is to show what not to do without naming the guilty. So here are some criminal acts perpetrated by nonprofits using email:
Missing Person in the Subject
A clever little trick used in email is to insert the recipient’s name into the subject line. Except when your email tool isn’t integrated to your CRM, then the name can go missing. This might have been a one-time mistake, except another email message from the same organization the very next day did it again.
Attack of the Giant Image
Forget about that “Having trouble reading this” or “View this message in a browser” text at the top of a message. Let’s just drop in a 600 x 565 pixel image at the top as the main content of the message. It looks great when Outlook blocks it or a mobile device like a BlackBerry can’t display it. This really helps with conversion rates at a critical time of the year.
Subject Line Originality
I received 23 email messages that used a “___ left to make a gift” theme in their subject lines. Some had days or hours, while others clearly had a countdown clock going. This might work the first time but it does get old fast. Remember that the average active donor is giving to 5 or more organizations. And most, if not all, of them are using email marketing. Be sure to focus on subjects and content that set you apart.
Action in the Image
Repeat after me: I will never put the only call to action of the email message in a graphic. Thank you. I’m glad that you and I could have this little talk.
Land of the Lost Donation Pages
When writing up this blog post I went through a folder full of all the emails I received from nonprofits. I noticed that the links in a few of them were no longer working. Which means that the organization or their provider had already removed the pages. Even though email messages have a much shorter response cycle than direct mail the reality is that a campaign may last a few months. Don’t delete them too soon.
These are just a few of the crimes that were quickly spotted. Perhaps I’ll cover this in a presentation or webinar in the near future.