4 Ideas for Activating Your Donors Over Email

In today’s digital world, email is a fundamental tool for engaging your donors and your audience. Here are four tips to help you make the most of your email campaigns and communications!

Tip #1: Experiment

It’s always a great time to think about experimenting with your emails. When we think about experimentation, consider something like what in marketing is known as ‘A/B testing’: Let’s say you’re sending out our newsletter and you split your group of 1,000 people in half; 500 get one version of the newsletter and 500 get another. Then, track those different groups. How many people open each email? How many people click through? How many people do something because of it? How many people unsubscribe from it? It’ll help you find out the impact different variables have on your goals for email engagement. And if you have Constant Contact, Mailchimp or some type of platform, it’s pretty easy to set that up. Compare your present performance to your past performance, and then looking for outliers to inform how you structure your communications going forward.

Tip #2: Subject Lines

A lot of folks are going to claim that they can tell you exactly what to do for subject lines, but sadly, there is no exact answer. We know a few qualities of good subject lines, though, once again, there’s not going to be any kind of perfect formula. One big thing is keeping them short. The majority of email is read on mobile phones — if we think about the fact that you’re opening this email on your iPhone, can you actually see what the subject is? Or at least the point of the subject when I’m looking quickly in my email? If you can’t, you’re probably not going to open it. And when it comes to structure, you might think that things like questions, statements, ellipses, “you’ll never believe…” or some surprising statistic might not work because they sound like spam. But the reason spam bots use structures like this is because they do work and people do open them! Finally, establish some consistency with subject lines for recurring emails. For example, if you send out a regular newsletter, make the subject line something like “Newsletter: [Writer’s Name].” That way you can make it a habit for your audience to see and anticipate.

Tip #3: Content First

Like with social media, content is ultimately going to be what dictates the level of engagement and action. So, make sure that every email has a really clear goal. Keep it concise – 2-4 paragraphs – to limit the amount of scrolling that a reader needs to do. If it needs to be a longer email, make sure you’re putting a call to action at both the beginning and the end of the email. Also, make sure there’s some sort of active element – many, if not most, fundraising emails include a visual component (pictures, video, etc.). That said, load times are also a big thing. If the email is slow to open because of multimedia additions, make sure that the written content can stand alone. Let the visual elements be engaging and a driver to take action, but not necessarily the heart of the email.

Tip #4: Calls to Action

What do you want your audience to do? Every email you send to your audience should be asking them to do something now. You’re definitely not asking them to give money every time, but you want them to feel activated and like our emails matter. So, even if they don’t do all the things we talk about, you want them to feel like they could do something because there’s an active opportunity. Maybe you want them to try a new action. “Try recycling,” “call your legislator,” or even just “share this email!” But every email should be asking them to go learn more, do more, give more, or tell someone.

This post was based off Matt Gayer’s webinar “How to Engage Your audience with Social Media and Email.” Want to learn more? Check out the webinar here.

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