Nonprofits on a tight budget should never overlook the potential of email marketing for their work. By harnessing the particularities of email marketing for nonprofits, you can effectively boost engagement, attendance, and donations.
The possibilities are vast, and starting is simple. Here’s our beginner’s guide in 5 simple steps.
1. Curate Your Email Marketing Audience
Before you start sending, you need an audience! The good news is that nonprofit organizations often have a head start on audience building through in-person events and volunteer connections. You may grow your audience through any of the following tactics:
- Have people sign up using pen & paper at your next in-person event
- Invite past volunteers to subscribe to your list
- Include an opt-in form wherever you collect donations
- Share a signup form with your social media network
- Add signup forms to your website using popups or landing pages
To start email marketing on the right foot, focus on organic growth. Start with your most loyal community members, and make opting in and out simple. Be sure to clean any large audience list before importing.
Above all else, never buy, rent, or “scrape” an audience. If you send to contacts who haven’t agreed to receive your emails, you may see a spike in unsubscribes and spam reports and run the risk of sending to spam traps. Spam traps are false email addresses that service providers use to keep spammers at bay.
If Mailchimp detects spam traps in your audience or sees a spike in abuse reports, your account will be put under investigation and may be terminated. It’s better to start small than to lose your progress altogether because of poor audience acquisition practices.
2. Plan Out Your Email Marketing Strategy
Once you have an email marketing audience, it’s time to brainstorm about what email updates you’d like to send. Take a moment to think over the following questions as they relate to your nonprofit:
- What’s one key action I want subscribers to take?
- What does my organization offer to subscribers & the world at large?
- How does my organization serve the present moment? (day, year, or decade)
Your organization’s core goals and values should drive any email marketing campaign. They make up the “why” of your email strategy: Why am I sending this email?
Once you know why you’re sending, consider what you’re sending. Monthly newsletters are a common place to start for nonprofits. A monthly newsletter provides space to share the latest updates on your work, as well as a calendar of events, relevant news articles, and more.
Consider how you can use segmentation in your email marketing strategy. Many organizations now are leaning towards targeted emails over longer general updates. Consider creating different kinds of emails for different portions of your audience. For example, event invitations could be a great fit for local community members, but less relevant to donors overseas.
Most email marketers send a mix of segmented & unsegmented emails to engage their full audience effectively. Try starting with one general newsletter and one targeted campaign to build your experience in both areas.
3. Build Your First Email Marketing Campaign
Designing your first email campaign doesn’t have to be daunting. Email marketing services like Mailchimp provide no-code options for building any email. You may even contract an agency or designer to create mobile responsive templates you can customize with updated content.
Whether you work with a designer or build your first template yourself, always keep in mind that people tend to skim emails, and over 40% of subscribers now open emails on mobile devices. This makes concise text, large headers, and relevant images essential. Use a hierarchy of information to plan your first email design, and direct subscribers toward a specific call to action.
For your first email design, consider creating a welcome email. Welcome automations are essential for any organization with an email list, as they provide an opportunity to connect with subscribers as soon as they sign up. Some other options for your first email could be a simple “hello” letting your audience know what you’ll be sending or a first newsletter with your most important updates from the past year.
4. Test, Test, Test
Once your first campaign has been sent, set aside some time to review its performance. For Mailchimp users, a report is generated on every campaign and updated in real-time. Consider these key metrics to analyze the success of your email campaigns:
- Open Rate: Shows % of subscribers who opened an email. This can measure subject line & preview text efficacy, as well as send date & time.
- Click Rate & Clicks per Unique Open: Click rate shows the % of subscribers who clicked on any link in an email, while clicks per unique open (also known as click-to-open rate) shows the % of openers who went on to click on an email’s links. These metrics are helpful for measuring the effectiveness of an email’s content and design.
- Bounces & Unsubscribes: Track the health of your audience by following trends in your bounces and unsubscribes. A sudden spike in either of these metrics indicates that your audience needs to be cleaned.
5. Develop Your Nonprofit’s Email Marketing with Pure Firefly
If you’d like a hand with starting an effective email marketing strategy, consider working with Pure Firefly. We offer one-on-one strategy calls, copywriting & design, and in-depth audits to ensure you’re making the most of your Mailchimp account. Check out our services to learn more, and contact us anytime for a quote!