6 Tips To Write Nonprofit Emails That People Actually Read

The following is a guest post from Laura Narušytė. Laura works in Marketing at Omnisend, an e-commerce marketing automation company that helps their customers grow by making complex email marketing features simplified and accessible to everyone.

Email can be a confusing channel for any marketer, and nonprofits face unique marketing challenges compared to for-profit businesses. Most people already receive more emails than they can read, so it’s easy for them to scroll past your message.

If you’re interested in upgrading your nonprofit email marketing practices, you should start by looking for ways to increase open rates. This article will cover some of the most effective strategies for getting more subscribers to read your emails, leading to substantially more donations at no additional cost.

1. Workshop Subject Lines

Marketers sometimes write email subject lines after finishing the rest of the message, and we often treat subject lines as an afterthought compared to an email’s body. In fact, the subject line can be the most important element in a marketing email, especially if you’re focusing on boosting your open rate.

A good subject line immediately catches your audience’s attention and makes them interested in learning more. The subject line is the first thing they see when looking through their inbox, so it’s critical to make a strong first impression.

The best subject lines are generally no longer than six or seven words. Try to edit out anything that isn’t immediately related to the email’s core value. You should also consider including the name of the recipient to add a more personal touch to each message.

The most common mistake marketers make in subject lines is using capital letters in an attempt to stand out from other emails. In fact, this approach only makes your messages look like spam rather than relevant content. Of course, the best subject lines for your next campaign depend on your unique audience.

2. Split Test Emails

While you can improve your content strategy by learning more about your audience and gathering customer data, it’s impossible to predict which ads will resonate with your readers. A/B testing gives you the opportunity to compare different options and determine which ones lead to the best results.

If you’re having trouble with subject lines, for example, split test your two best ideas by measuring each one’s open rate. Other factors that can influence open rates include your sender name, the date and time of each message, and your email frequency. Try to control for external variables during each A/B test.

While split-testing is almost always worthwhile, you can further improve your results by testing your weakest metrics. If you’re having trouble with click-through rates, for example, you should focus on increasing that number rather than working on open rates. Friction at any point in the customer journey can lead to a significant reduction in sales.

3. Make Content Scannable

Readers may only spend a few seconds on each email before moving to the next one, so it’s important to make sure your content and visuals are easy to understand. Keep in mind that some subscribers read your emails on a smartphone or tablet—it’s important to fully optimize messages for all devices.

Long sections of text, for example, can make a nonprofit email more difficult to read and distract users from the most important elements: headings, images and videos, and the call to action. Limit each section to just a few sentences and add variety with interesting visual content.

4. Add A Clear Call To Action

Calls to action are another easy way to add structure to an email and lead more customers to perform your desired action. This could be anything from donating to your nonprofit to visiting your website depending on your marketing priorities.

The call to action should be visually distinct from the rest of the email and repeated at least twice in order to maximize your click-through rate. Some nonprofits add the call to action to subject lines in order to make the point of the email more clear.

The best calls to action add a sense of urgency and make readers feel like they’d be missing out if they didn’t open your email. In addition to copy in the subject line, there should also be at least one CTA button at the beginning and/or end of the email’s body.

5. Manage Frequency

It’s often tempting to increase your email frequency when you’re struggling to achieve your marketing goals, but sending messages more often can actually have the opposite effect. Email burnout will likely lead to a significantly lower open rate along with more unsubscribes.

Rather than maximizing frequency, you should be focused on sending messages to match your audience’s preferences. You can give readers more control over their email experience by letting them select their desired frequency or opt-in and out of certain kinds of content.

However often you decide to send emails, the critical thing is to stick to a reliable schedule so that your readers know when to expect the next message. Try to send messages around your audience’s schedule in order to maximize the chance that they see each email.

6. Create A Welcome Sequence

Welcome sequences are an incredibly powerful way for nonprofits and for-profit businesses to build audience relationships, and many users expect a personalized welcome sequence from their favorite brands and organizations. This is the perfect way to offer new subscribers more information about your mission and motivate them to stay engaged.

Maintaining audience interest is an incredibly challenging aspect of nonprofit advertising, and a strong welcome sequence will help you generate more long-term involvement.

The welcome sequence is one of the most important factors in developing better donor relationships, so the first email should focus on the most important work your nonprofit is doing. An effective welcome sequence helps you stand out from other brands and leads more readers to continue opening your emails.

Getting the word out about a nonprofit can be difficult and even discouraging, but you can attain better results by making a handful of simple changes. These are just a few of the best ways to optimize your approach to nonprofit email outreach and generate more short- and long-term interest in your organization.