June 6, 2008 As nonprofits increase their use of email to reachand buildtheir constituencies, one of the biggest challenges they face is how to break through the flood of competing emails and avoid being rejected as spam.
A recent special report published by The Nonprofit Times offered specific ways to improve email readership and click-throughs, links from your email message to your website. It suggests the following:
Design graphically-appealing emails
Brand your emails graphically with your site. Include strategic photos throughout the emails. Design themes for each season to keep things graphically pleasing.
Keep It simple
One of the goals is not to overwhelm the reader with too much information in the email. Keep emails short, highlighting information and allowing them to click through to read the full report or story. Lengthy emails overwhelmed the reader.
Make your goal/objective of the email prominent
For fundraising emails, focus clearly on the one or two things you want to say to. Most people skim through emails so you need to make your message jump out to the reader.
Test subject lines
Create two small segmentations and send out the same email with two different subject lines. Then, analyze the results to determine which email has the best open rate. Use that subject line to distribute the full email campaign.
Key to any email campaign is maintaining current email addresses, a never ending but crucial task.
Getting People to Open Your Emails
Having the right email addresses and taking care to design email campaigns is just part of the battle to get recipients to open your email. Chad Nykamp, of Salem Web Network in Richmond, Virginia, recommends the following to help readers engage with your content:
Use a persons name in the To line. This can increase response by as much as 10%.
Strategically think about the From line since 70% of readers make their decision to open an email based on the From line and subject line. Use the name of the organization or a well-known name from the organization in the From and subject lines. This can increase open rates by 32% to 60%.
Design for the preview pane and tell who and what at a glance.
Keep subject lines to 50 to 65 characters and avoid words, such as help, reminder, and percent off. These words wont trip the spam filter but will negatively affect open rates.
Be straight-forward and avoid flashy phrases in the subject line. Dont use all caps or exclamation points.
Questions are often the best-performing subject lines.
Test subject lines over and over. This is truly the only way to determine what works and what doesnt work.