There are few ways that are as effective and affordable to get the word out about your business or nonprofit than email marketing. If done right, email marketing provides a regular system of ‘touch points’ with your target audience that will engage them in our organization, and keep them coming back for more. Here are the latest in best practices for creating a winning email marketing campaign.

Make sure the information you’re providing is really useful. The best emails and other social media posts provide useful information to readers. It might not be about your organization, directly; however, it should be somewhat related, useful and of interest. As an example, a post was shared on LinkedIn about the best states for women entrepreneurs. As the author of the post was a female entrepreneur, the thought was that this would be relevant and useful to other women entrepreneurs. Using statistics and providing useful data about your target audience’s field is another way to add value through your email marketing that has a higher chance of being read.

Keep your content brief. People are busy today, very busy, and they don’t have time to digest anything that isn’t interesting to them personally, or essential for their professional success. If you’re providing short bits of interesting, useful content, along with info graphics, engaging charts, graphs, photos and other visuals your audience can read at a glance, they will be more likely to take a look. Email marketing gurus today advise somewhere in the range of 50 to 125 words maximum for each email—resulting in a 50% higher response rate than longer emails.

Have a specific or personalized subject line. Your email marketing campaign all begins with your subject line. You can have the most interesting information and graphics in your email, but if your readers aren’t opening your emails, your message becomes a moot point. Having a specific or personalized subject line gives readers a clearer idea of what to expect when they read your email. As an example, you might have a catchy title for a fundraiser like: Mingle With the Stars. However, according to email marketing experts, you’ll get higher click-throughs if your subject line reads instead: Mingle With Tom Brady!

Design your emails for mobile devices. Email open rates on mobile devices are on the rise. Today, approximately 55% of mobile users opening emails on their Smart phones and other mobile devices, per data driven email experts, WhatCounts. Because of this, it’s important to design and code your emails with mobile users in mind. Statistics show that 80% of mobile users will delete your emails that aren’t mobile optimized.

Integrate with social media. Sending an email that offers a promotion is a popular trend in email marketing that’s somewhat effective. However, it’s not as effective as social sharing. Just one subscriber sharing your email with their network can get your content out there to a lot more people—exponentially. Think about creating emails that are interesting enough for readers to share on their social networks. Think about emails you share yourself. It’s also important to plan and coordinate your organization’s social media campaign around your email marketing campaign. It’s a fine line between keeping a good flow of information going, and bombarding your target audience with too much content. That’s why coordinating your social and email marketing campaigns ensures a consistent, yet not overwhelming flow of useful information aimed at your target audience that will inspire them to take action.

Build a great email list. Having useful and engaging email content is the first step. Your organization also needs a great email distribution list so you know your emails are going to an audience that has largely expressed interest in what you offer. A qualified email list, i.e., built over time from emails voluntarily provided to your organization by prospective clients, members, donors and constituents is worth its weight in gold. 

Analyze Your Results. Finally, it’s important to analyze the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign so you can continue to improve your approach and conversion rate of interested readers to engaged participants at all levels of the organization. Sending emails over and over without knowing the effectiveness of your effort is like shooting arrows into the dark hoping to hit something.  As you try different email marketing techniques, be sure to track at the minimum these key metrics:

  • Delivery rates
  • Open rates
  • Click-to-delivery rates
  • Subscriber retention rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Longevity and depth of visit
  • Actions completed
  • Macro & micro conversions, and
  • Average value per email sent.

 

Here are the marketing essentials every nonprofit organization or business needs in 2017 to be a real player at the table.

Conduct a marketing audit. A lot can happen in a year, so it’s important to review your marketing approach at least annually to be sure that it’s still working to attract your target customers, and meet your organizational and revenue goals. Items in the audit should include: your messaging–how well you’re defining and communicating your offering and how this differs from your competitors, your website–is your message easily accessible to viewers quickly on their mobile devices, and does it inspire them to take some kind of action; your marketing materials–it might make sense to convert hardcopy marketing materials into digital ones that are less costly to produce and easier to share; your online profile–it’s essential to have your organization listed on at multiple directories online, such as Google Verify and Yelp. Not doing this can make your organization nearly invisible during searches; your social media approach–this includes a lot more today than just Facebook.

Revise your messaging so your offering is clear and differentiating. Your target customers and constituents need to clearly understand what your organizations offers, how it applies to their needs, how it differs from competitors, and inspires some kind of next step. Often this means simply adding a tagline to your logo, business card, email signature and website to define what your business does, making your telephone number more visible with a live link and including a traveling Contact Us box that moves with the viewer during website visits.

Have a mobile-optimized website that viewers can grasp within 7 to 10 seconds. Today, more than 60% of the population is said to use their hand-held devices to make buying decisions and execute online transactions. This means it’s essential that your website be mobile-optimized across all types of mobile devices. It’s also important that your website home page convey what you offer and how to take advantage of your services within about 7 to 10 seconds. “That’s the average length of time most viewers take nowadays to look at a website and decide to take action, or not,” per Dale Shadbegian, Principal of 118Group, a Cape-based web development and social media firm. “You have less time than ever these days to capture the attention of your visitors, before they move on to the competition. This means your website should load quickly, have large readable fonts, allow adequate white space for digesting content, and should be ‘mobile-optimized’ to load and be easily viewed across all mobile devices.”

Have a digital marketing and social media strategy. Having a digital marketing and social media strategy to strengthen your organization’s profile and visibility, and being active on social media will help to position your organization well online. “Becoming Google Verified is the best step toward getting on the virtual map,” offers Shadbegin. “Gaining this first level of Internet credibility and getting better exposure on search engines is essential today. In addition to Google Verify, there are approximately a dozen or more directories such as YELP that an organization should be listed on to ensure a strong online profile.” Outreach to new clients through social media is the next step for your organization to let prospective clients, members, constituents and sponsors know you’re ‘open and ready’ for business. Facebook and Instagram continue to be the hottest B2C (business to consumer) channels, while LinkedIn continues to remain the top B2B (business to business) platform. “It’s not enough these days to just post an event or photo occasionally on Facebook or Instagram. For those in the industry, we know there’s a lot of back office strategy, measurement and monitoring tools and trial and error research needed to be visible and effective on social media,” concludes Shadbegian.

Get your content out there. These days, content truly is king. As part of your messaging audit, be sure that the content you’re posting on your website blog, social media, in e-newsletters and email marketing emphasizes your core offering and what differentiates your organization. Choose four or five topics that solidify your offering and showcase your expertise, and post these monthly and concurrently on all of your marketing channels. Repetition of this core content is key to getting the attention of search engines, and building a strong brand.