Beginners Guide to Email Marketing

Man at iPad

Nonprofits can use email marketing to keep their supporters, volunteers and funders engaged in the organization’s work and mission. Not only do email campaigns allow timely information to be dispersed, but email marketing can also be a less expensive alternative to print communications. In addition, certain email service providers include statistics so nonprofits can easily determine what types of information is appealing for those receiving emails from the organization.

Effective Email Marketing

It is important to plan an email marketing strategy before sending any emails. This involves creating a calendar that details when emails will be sent and what content will be included. When scheduling emails, consider holidays, day of the week and time of day, as well as overall frequency to ensure optimal open rates.

In general, effective emails contain information that makes people want to take action by visiting a website, calling a phone number, donating money, signing a letter or performing some other action. This begins with the subject title; it should stand out in an inbox and describe the content of the email.

The content of the email will change based on the type of organization and the email marketing campaign, however all emails should drive traffic to the nonprofit’s website via hyperlinks. The website is typically the primary form of communications for nonprofits and can include more information on topics in an email.

Email Marketing Glossary

Background Image: In the HTML email, background image describes layering an image behind text. Most often, layering images should be avoided, as images can result in emails being blocked by certain email providers.

Blacklist: This is a list of servers that are denied access due to SPAM alerts or user complaints.

Bounces: Email addresses that could not be delivered due to an incorrect address or an inbox over its size limit.

Call to Action: Nonprofits should use calls to action to suggest readers to take a step beyond simply reading the email, such as visiting a website or signing a letter.

Click-Through Rate: This metric measures the rate at which links in an email were clicked on and can be measured in the entire email, or based on the number of opened emails or specified links.

Link Tracking: This analytics tool involves embedding a code into email links to help track open rates, click-throughs and bounce rates.

Open Rate: The open rate is the percent of email recipients that opened an email.

Opt-In: This feature requires people to subscribe to an emailing list in order to receive emails from a nonprofit.

Opt-Out: This feature allows people to unsubscribe to a mailing list. By law, nonprofits must give users an option to opt-out of emails by responding to the email or clicking an unsubscribe link within the email itself.

Plain Text Email: Unlike HTML emails with clickable URL links and images, plain text emails have no formatting and is accessible to all email users.