5 Email Marketing Best Practices for Nonprofits
May 9, 2023
Nonprofit email marketing is a two-fold challenge. The goal is to build creative email campaigns that interest subscribers enough that they 1) open them, and 2) complete your desired action.
Welcome Them and Ask Questions
Sending a welcome email to new subscribers is your chance to make a good first impression of your nonprofit. Connect with potential donors by personalizing the subject line and greeting. Include a questionnaire or survey to learn how your subscribers prefer to support your organization.
Value Your Subscribers’ Time
You likely have lots of information to share but resist the urge to cram all of it into one email. Your subscribers’ attention may only last a few seconds as they scroll through their inbox, so lead with an enticing subject line to catch their eyes. Keep the email copy simple with a few key points and a strong, visible call to action button or link.
Rotate Email Content
Using a variety of content allows you to target different interests. Some subscribers may want to donate while others wish to volunteer. Creating emails that address each preference will help to keep your donors engaged.
Nonprofit Email Marketing Strategy Content Considerations
Statistics: Putting statistics in a subject line is an effective way to draw attention to an email. You can use that information in a series to highlight the progress or results of fundraisers and campaigns.
Updates: Some subscribers might rely on your emails to stay up to date on the latest news about your nonprofit. So, announce upcoming events, campaigns and changes within your nonprofit.
Stories: Show people how their contributions make an impact by sharing success stories. Spotlighting those who benefited lets donors see how they make a difference. Success stories also emphasize the importance and purpose of your nonprofit, and appealing to your audience’s emotions can increase the likelihood of a donation.
Holiday initiatives: Historically, charitable contributions increase during the holiday season at the end of the year. Implementing email marketing in that season can increase your donor base and allow you to stay connected to current donors. A donation match campaign is another way to incentivize people to give, especially if they feel their contribution will make twice the impact.
Use Images and Video
Use different media to illustrate and support the key points of an email. Condense statistics and numbers into infographics to present the results of a campaign, illustrate the impact of a success story with a featured image, or convey the excitement of a fundraising event with a video.
Images, videos and graphics reduce the amount of copy in an email, so you only need to write a brief, powerful statement and a call to action. You can also highlight the media in your subject line with phrases like, “Check Out Our Video,” or “See How Your Contribution Made a Difference.”
Understand Email Metrics
Digital marketing metrics will help you understand the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
Pay attention to:
Open rate: It shows the number of subscribers who viewed your emails. A high open rate could confirm that your subject lines are compelling and encouraging engagement.
Bounce rate: That tells you the number of emails that are not successfully delivered due to invalid or inactive email addresses or full mailboxes. Remove subscribers with invalid email addresses to avoid increasing your bounce rate.
Click-through rate: The CTR represents the percentage of subscribers who interact with your emails by responding, clicking a link, watching a video, etc. The email copy, layout and call to action should encourage your subscribers to act.
Conversion rate: That’s the percentage of emails that lead to a desired outcome, like donating or volunteering. A poor conversion rate could be due to a technical error with your website, so ensure the landing or donation page for the campaign is functioning properly.
Unsubscribe rate: That’s the number of people who opted out of your email list. Too many or too few emails, bland content and a lack of incentive could increase the unsubscribe rate.