4 Follow-Up Email Mistakes (That You Might Be Making)

Matt ClarkJune 06, 2017

4 Follow-Up Email Mistakes (That You Might Be Making) header image

Alright, everyone, it’s time for some straight-talk.

Enough with the blanket solicitations!

It’s 2017. With great online tools to help you know who your donors are, we no longer need to be sending the same solicitations to everyone in our email/mail list!

How many emails do you get on a daily basis with some type of blanket offer from an online retailer? How often do you click through and purchase something?

Imagine that instead of getting a mass email, a company reaches out to you with a catered offer that says, “Hey Matt, you recently subscribed to our monthly razor shipment. Want to try the best shaving cream ever made?!”

How much more likely would you be to open that email?

Let’s take a look at how one organization that I recently encountered got it wrong. (To protect the innocent, we’ve swapped the organization’s details with made up ones.)

We’ve met, like, four times

My wife and I recently attended a concert at a nonprofit venue (which was an amazing concert), marking the 2nd time within a month we attended a show there – the 4th time overall.

At that point, the organization should have had a decent record of our engagement with them. However, in the week following the show, we received 4 separate invitations from 3 separate people/departments to engage with the organization further.

I’ll talk about the email mistakes in this blog, and leave the other 3 touchpoints for future blogs (I can rant about this for a while).

The email: you just need to be literate

The first thing I received from the organization following this most recent concert was the email featured below.

Overall, the offer itself isn’t terrible now that I’ve attended a concert, but in the context of future offers throughout the week, coupled with some small things in the email…this was a rough start for what was to come.

  1. The subject line in the email is a little odd – it almost seemed like spam.
  2. I had never met this person emailing me and he jumped right into an offer rather than using the personalized note as an opportunity to introduce himself and provide context for the offer.
  3. The email says, “I hope you made it out to Michael Bublé…” They literally scanned my ticket at the door…so they should absolutely know that I attended the event.
  4. The offer itself is VERY unclear. However, after reading over a few times, I figured out it’s essentially an offer to purchase tickets to a trio of shows, getting tickets to 2 shows for free. Again, based on their records, they should know I already purchased tickets for 2 shows this year (and therefore only one ticket purchase away from receiving this offer).

What they could have done better?

  1. A subject line like “Matt, if you liked Michael Bublé, you’ll love these concerts” or “We hope you enjoyed the concert – allow me to introduce myself”.
  2. Introduce themselves! Form a relationship and start building trust.
  3. A simple glance over their ticketing information and voilà – they would have known I went. Send me an email thanking me. If I didn’t go? They could tell me they’re bummed, inviting me to the next show!
  4. Since they should have known I went to 2 concerts recently, it would have been more effective to inform me that I was 1 away from getting a free ticket.

Thus I end this crusade of a blog (the first of 4, by the way) with a new commandment: Know Thy Donor! Just because technologies exist to deliver broad messages at a click of a button doesn’t mean we should throw out the basics of smart fundraising. Instead, we can use the knowledge we have to create, automate, and distribute targeted and tailored messages to the right people at the right time.

My next fundraising battle? The phone call.If you find value in this type of fundraising, click here to download my Persona-Based Marketing ebook.


Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Communication