hand-emailEmail marketing remains as one of the very best methods to stay in touch with current members, donors and customers. Use it as part of a strong MIX of marketing tools that include direct mail, social media, phone calls, and good old-fashioned face-to-face time.

The most successful email marketers keep it simple, and always follow the most basic best practices:

  • Subject – We all get a ton of email. And we open the messages that stand out. The rest go in the trash. So be sure to make your subject line sizzle (and also relevant to your lead story).
  • Content – Is your lead item interesting to your audience? Would YOU be interested in “reading more” after the first paragraph? If the answer is Maybe or No, then stop and start over. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes, and write what they are looking for. Consider adding video to your messages. People love videos and they are easily shared.
  • Value – Every reader silently asks themselves, “Was this email worth my time? Did it add something to my life?” If it’s valuable, they are more likely to open your next email. But the moment they consider you to be value-less, they’ll stop opening your messages.
  • Promotion – Don’t be too “salesy” or pushy with your products, services, and events. Provide insight and benefits. Readers who are truly interested will click through for more info… They are the ones you want to track. You don’t want to track the people whose arms you had to twist.
  • Consistency – Send your monthly newsletter once per month… not once per week and then once per quarter because you forgot about it.
  • Personalization – The good email marketing services allow you to customize messages with personal info such as first name, etc. Readers appreciate this. If you’ve got the data, you can also split up your lists by city, zip code, state, etc. This way, you can send cold-weather-related messages to the people in Colorado and the warm-weather messages to Floridians.
  • Call to Action – This can come in a variety of ways: read more, reserve now, info, buy, save a life here, register, etc. But you’ve got to include something to inspire action. That click is trackable and it tells you who is interested in what, both now and down the road.
  • Drive Traffic to your Site – Whenever possible, drive the click-through traffic back to your own website, and better yet, to specific pages on your site. That said, it works best to first post content to your website, then link to it from both e-news and social media.
  • Tracking – Take advantage of the data collected by your email campaign service. How many people opened my email? How many people clicked for more? How do the click-throughs compare to the visit count on my web page? Were donations from members up or down compared to previous campaigns? The data is available. You’ve just got to look at it and learn from it.

On a somewhat related note, think about the size of your email marketing list. You may be proud of the fact that your database is 10,000 members strong. But how many of them are active, contributing members versus the dead wood? Would you rather have 200 friends that never call you, or five friends that check in with you weekly? It’s perfectly acceptable to have a large database, but take the time to categorize them into meaningful lists. This will allow you to send different messages to each list, and will dramatically improve your open and click-through rates. Consider list names like:

  • Top Clients
  • Current Clients
  • Past Clients
  • Hot Prospects
  • Prospects
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Vendors
  • Acquaintances
  • Seniors
  • Adults Over 40
  • Young Adults
  • Staff