The timely and convenient nature of e-communications makes email marketing appear deceptively easy, however creating inspiring and engaging content that motivates your supporters to respond to your call to action, requires deeper consideration and can sometimes be considered more of an art than a science.
So how do you ensure you get the results you’re looking for? Here’s 7 best practice tips for not-for-profits to increase open and response rates and create deeper relationships with your supporters.
1) Segment like a pro
The days of cookie-cutter one-size-fits all emails are long gone. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from research, testing and experience across a number of sectors, it’s that targeted communications work, and generic emails don’t. If the message isn’t directly relevant to the recipient it’s not going to produce results and you’re effectively wasting your time and theirs and wasting an opportunity while you’re at it.
To really connect with your supporter base, you need to offer them value and be considerate of their needs, relationship with your organisation and previous involvement with your cause. Every email you send is an ask. So make sure that it is the right ask.
When communicating with past supporters for the purpose of acquisition and conversion, consider demographics such as gender and age as well as recency and frequency of support. As you’re developing your segmentation strategy and objectives, also think about when you last communicated with these supporters, as those who you have more recently engaged with, or who have pro-actively interacted with you, are far more likely to respond to your communication, than those who haven’t heard from you in the last 2 years.
If you’re activating to current fundraisers, elements such as amount raised, fundraising target, geographical location and fundraiser type (individual, team captain, team member) will be the areas of focus for your segmentation. Tailor specific messages to these segments and ensure you include content that will motivate and resonate with each group.
Ultimately the best way to get your segmentation right is to try and try again. Test, measure and report on each email you send out – see what works for your database and what doesn’t and strive to continually evolve your segments.
2) Write a fantastic headline
There are a number of things to think about when writing a great headline, but know that one thing is for sure – a headline can make or break your email. Only 12% of emails sent by not-for-profits are even opened, according to the 2012 eNonprofits Benchmark Study. Creating pithy and eye-catching headlines that are short in length, and clear in purpose are critical to success. It’s also vital that you avoid keywords commonly used in SPAM as this will decrease the likelihood that your email will end up in people’s SPAM folder.
And last but not least: Put yourself in your recipients’ shoes and ask – what headline would make you want to read on?
3) The first paragraph should tell all
Like any well-written copy, your email’s initial paragraph should get straight to the point, drawing your supporters in and clearly communicating what the email is about. Avoiding a lengthy first paragraph, and making the first mention of your call to action is a good place to start. Just like an article or blog post, you want to prompt your reader to read on give just enough information to spark their intrigue, whilst not giving everything away up front. Once you’ve struck that balance, you’re on the road to success.
4) Short paragraphs work best
It’s important when writing your email copy, that you remain considerate of the medium, which can often be hard on the eyes. The more text-heavy your email is, the less likely your recipients are of reaching the end, so consider your paragraph lengths and be liberal in your use of white space and subheads to break up the document. Often a top-heavy approach with purpose clearly communicated at the beginning of the email makes a difference. Test different formats and include links at various points in your email, which you can measure by examining post campaign click-through rates.
5) Make sure to tell that story
Tell your story and tell it well. If you want your recipients to respond to your email, give them something meaningful and memorable to respond to. Every not-for-profit has a story to tell, whether it’s about the important work you do, the difference your donor’s contribution makes or the story of someone that has been touched by your organisation; the best way to strike a chord with your audience is by creating a connection with them through storytelling.
If your email reads like a wooden ask, it will fall flat. Showing your supporters where their money goes, how it helps and the difference it makes to real people will motivate them to continue to support you. Take every opportunity to put a real ‘face’ to your cause, and use emotive language and imagery to convey to your recipients how much their contribution means to you. Make it believable, make it heartfelt and above all, make it relevant to them.
6) Simple, specific and direct call to action
At some point in your email you have to make your ask. So ask. Avoid skirting around the issue or clouding your call to action with unnecessary detail and information. Establish ONE targeted call to action, and ensure it is easy to respond to. Be specific, and make sure people understand the direct benefit of their contribution. Use donation handles, set a target and try to quantify your ask: “$xx amount will buy/help/allow us to xx”. Tell your supporters where those funds will go, how important they are and what a difference they will make. Diluted calls to action don’t get results, so make yours count…every time.
7) Use links and buttons
Take advantage of links and buttons and use the medium to your full advantage. The primary benefit of emails is that your supporters can respond with just one click. Use links to your website to help readers learn more about your cause, view a picture, sign up to your newsletter or contact you. But most importantly, turn your call to action into a button and make it BIG! The human eye is drawn to colour and objects not plain text, so whatever you want your recipients to do whether it be ‘Donate’, ‘Start Fundraising’, ‘Register’ or anything else, turn it into an eye-catching button and link it directly to where you want them to go.
Found these useful? We do too. Here at everydayhero we continually aim to implement, test and evolve our e-communications and share this knowledge with you. We offer a great range of acquisition, activation and conversion programmes to help you better engage your supporters which you can read more about in our marketing services section. If you’d like more information on any of these programmes, give us a call on 1300 798 768.