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4 Things Successful Email Campaigns Have

You have probably done at least some email marketing to bring in donations, share upcoming events, or sell tickets for your nonprofit. Of all the digital marketing methods out there, email consistently delivers the highest ROI.


With the prominence of social media in recent years, attention has moved away from email in favor of paid and organic social media engagement. However, email marketing is more likely to yield positive results.

Here are three things your email campaigns should have to maximize success.


1. A clean design

Having a clean, easy-to-read design is key. Emails that feature a single compelling image with one to two brief paragraphs of text are far more likely to convert than long or cluttered emails. This is especially the case today when more than half of emails are opened on a mobile device. (This number may be higher for your organization; take a look in your email software to confirm your own stats.)

Here are some additional things to consider:

  • Does your email have a one-column design?
  • Is the font size large enough to be read easily?
  • Does it have one to two paragraphs of compelling text?
  • Does the main image load quickly?
  • Is the main image something recognizable?

If the answer is "no" to any of these, what tweaks can you make to improve?


2. A clear CTA

When someone is reading your email, is it clear what you want them to do next? Including a clear CTA (call-to-action) is an effective way to boost engagement. Most often, a CTA will drive readers to a website to make a donation or purchase an event ticket.

A CTA doesn't always have to call for a financial transaction. Whether you are driving traffic to a blog post, recruiting volunteers, or sharing information about a free event, including a bold CTA button with a high-contrast color will result in more click-throughs.


3. A descriptive subject line

Readers spend less than a second deciding whether to open your email. To ensure you get the most opens possible, make sure your subject line reflects the content in the email.

For example, let's pretend you are sending an email about a new blog post featuring a your volunteers at work. Rather than using a subject line like "New on our blog," change it to something like, "Go behind-the-scenes with our volunteers."

Also, data shows that shorter subject lines perform better, so try to keep yours under 50 characters. A shorter subject line easy to read, especially on mobile devices.


4. List segmentation

So, you've got a beautifully-designed email with a clear CTA and a great subject line. Now it is time to send. But before you do, determine exactly who would find this email relevant and interesting. Email efficacy relies heavily on relevance; the people on your email list(s) all have different needs and interests and not every message is going to be relevant to every person. The messaging in the email should match the list segment to which it is sent.

Here is a quick example:

You would like to send an email to promote memberships to your organization. In order to be successful, the email should be sent to people on your list who are not members, and who have the highest liklihood to become a member. You can determine this through a mix of demographic and behaviors. In this example, this email list segment should include:

  • Patrons who have visited your organization or purchased event tickets multiple times in the past. This data can come from your own CRM system.
  • Donors who are not yet members. Again, this is data from your own CRM.
  • Those who have expressed an interest in memberships previously. Take a look at people who have clicked on a membership link in a past email.

Considering your audience segments may mean taking a different approach to your email content and schedule, but the results will be well worth it.

Segmentation graphics courtesy of Zapier.


We can help you reach more patrons through targeted email campaigns. Contact us to learn more.

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