Reaching your audience through email

Email marketing and communication

When it comes to connecting with clients and donors, organizations have several options to choose from — a traditional ad campaign with billboards and commercials, social media and digital advertising, snail mail and email marketing. And while digital gets a lot of attention, research shows email can still be a great way to connect with your audience.

The reason? People still open their email and almost everyone has an email account. The return on investment is about $40 for each $1 spent, which is the highest among most marketing channels. But not every email campaign will see that success. To net that return, your email marketing campaign requires strategy.

Design plays an essential role in your email marketing success. Is it easy to read and does it reflect your organization’s brand? If someone opens an email and finds it disorganized with too many elements or broken links, the chances of them opening the next issue go down or they may even unsubscribe.

Strategy should inform the content of the newsletter. You want the right message to get to the right person to encourage action, whether it’s a click-through to a website or sending a request for additional information. So, what kind of content should you include to set your email apart from others?

  • Quality over quantity: You want your audience excited to see your newsletter land in their inbox. To get that reaction, it needs to include quality information your audience can use. If you can only produce that once a month, that’s fine. It’s better than pushing out a weekly email filled with fluff that audience members are likely to skip over.
  • What topics are your clients interested in? And if you do not know what their interests are, conduct a simple survey. With answers in hand, target the content around that information.
  • The right words: Your organization has key messages for a reason. Use them to drive content creation since it solidifies your brand.
  • It’s not all about you. Share client success stories or mention an organization or event you’re involved in.

Most organizations have long email lists, but is everyone on that list interested in your newsletter’s content? Again, strategy comes into play. Once you have an accurate database, you can segment the different audiences, targeting them with messages they would be the most interested in. For example, a nonprofit organization’s email list may contain both volunteers and donors — make sure to segment content for the right audiences.

To ensure your email marketing is working, you need to track the results. What percentage of the emails are being opened and how many click-throughs are you getting? If those numbers are not where you want them to be, adjust the design, content and database until you reach your goal.

Email marketing is a powerful way to connect with your audience. Using strategy can make that connection even stronger.

MaryBeth Matzek is the communications manager for O’Connor Connective.

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