How to write a killer email strategy

Email is a critical part of every non-profit’s donor communication strategy. Everydayhero’s email specialist, Emma Fortunaso, shares the secrets to a successful email strategy. Writing a killer email campaign can be a tricky business. There are a lot of different elements which you need to get right. Timing, relevancy, frequency and, of course, content all play their part. They are crucial in making sure your supporter communications add value and inspire the desired action the recipient. Here are a few tried and tested rules of thumb which will help your email comms deliver maximum results for your next event.

Make sure your timeline is on point.

A good email strategy revolves around key trigger points. So, your first task is to establish exactly what those points are and when they are likely to arise. To get there you’ll need to ask yourself a few important questions:
  • Are you executing your comms manually or are there automated?
  • How far out from the event do you open registration?
  • When does your acquisition strategy begin?
  • When can you expect peaks in page creation?
At Everydayhero, we recommend a strategy that works forward from page creation and back from your event. Make contact one day, two days, three days and seven days after page creation. Be careful to make sure that the content is relevant to the user or the frequency will be too much. When working backwards from the event, keep comms to once a week, beginning around eight weeks out for a standard event. Then increase the frequency to twice a week in the 2-3 weeks leading up to the event. Remember to vary communication channels and to keep in mind any event based communications. If registrations open more than four months out from the event, you might want to consider extending the initial phase. Generally speaking, your timeline should consist of the following trigger points at a minimum:
  • Page creation triggers: including 24 hours and 7 days after page creation
  • Event triggers: including 1 month out, 2 weeks out and 1 week out
  • Post-event triggers: including thank you comms one week later and a wrap-up email four weeks on to close the loop
  • Incentive-related triggers: including 50% of goal and 100% of goal

Tailor your comms to suit the message and action you want your supporters to take.

While accepted wisdom states that email comms should be brief, when it comes to our industry that’s not always true. It ultimately depends on the nature of your communications. If the email is a short and simple ask (for example, uploading a profile photo), make it a short and simple email. On the other hand, if you want to share a cause-related story designed to build an emotional connection, don’t cull any important information. Making it a shorter communication could dilute the power of your message. Instead, keep it engaging by including video and imagery. Not only are these really important as supporting players for your content, they also make your communications dynamic and add variety. Remember, if you’re using custom HTML, make sure you run your code through a tool like Litmus and ensure your images aren’t push outside of your margins.

Segment your comms to ensure relevancy.

One simple way to increase your open rates and inspire supporters is to segment your comms to make sure the detail and content is highly relevant. Consider segmenting your data by the following:
  • Has and hasn’t performed behaviours such as x, y and z
  • Dollars raised, ie. 0% of goal reached, 1-99% and 100%+ of goal reached
  • Kms logged, ie. 0kms logged, 1+kms logged
  • Supporter role ie. team leaders, team members and those not participating within a team

Always remember to include a clear call to action.

It sounds obvious, but it’s vital that every email communication you send out includes some sort of CTA. This could be donating to the cause or simply liking a Facebook page. Position it as close to the top of the email as possible and make it short, simple and clear – for example, ‘visit my page’. Think about your links too. If you’re sending someone to a fundraising page, make the link a dynamic field to that page’s URL. If you’re asking a supporter to post an update to their page, make sure you’re sending them to the sign-in URL. Ultimately, it’s all about making it as easy as possible for people to act on your call to action. Using these simple steps in your next email campaign should instantly increase engagement levels. I’ll be sharing more advice in part two of my email campaign series, so keep an eye out for this in the coming weeks.