Seems like about the time you start convincing the slow to react nonprofits to actually start using email marketing, their methods may already be out of date. Marketing methods and technology are changing so fast. So you should evaluate you newsletter at least twice per year. Take a look at your analytics (deliverability, open rates, click-throughs, etc) and look for trends.
Those individuals charged with the responsibility for producing the newsletter has the pressure of getting fresh, interesting material every month. This takes a great deal of time and effort. Many nonprofits feel they are doing a great service to their subscribers when they dump the "mother-load" of information on their email "victims" each month. As our inboxes get stuffed with more and more wanted and unwanted items, we resort to quick and dirty filtering methods just to avoid getting buried. If you don't read or take action on an interesting email within 24 hours, it usually gets swept away in the sea of incoming messages never to be looked at again.
Of course, this is what happens to all the "other" emails while your subscriber is reading your email newsletter, right? Wrong. If you haven't improved your email newsletter "best practices" in the last 6-12 months, your open rates probably reflect a downward trend.
Kivi Leroux Miller recently wrote a post that grabbed my attention titled Three Trends That Beg for Shorter Email Newsletters. I highly recommend reading the entire post as well as many others on her site. But just a few quick highlights:
- Inbox zero. This has really hit me lately. My inbox is in a constant state of motion as emails, notifications, followers, direct messages keep coming and coming. The newsletters that I have chosen to "opt-in" for are buried amongst everything else. So today, I just started deleting. If I wasn't or couldn't read it immediately, it got flushed. Your readers are the same way. They are looking for reason to delete your email, not read your email. So subject lines have to be spot on target and super relevant. And timing is everything so avoid the obvious crunch times.
- Social media killing email? It's no secret that people are spending more time in social networks. I bet your own habits have probably changed. Shear time constraints prohibit us spending too much time sorting through the inbox. So how do you compete? Make your emails more engaging and interactive with more calls to action, interesting links, videos and surveys. I know this is easier said than done, it does take effort and creativity. But it's necessary for survival in the inbox.
- "E-Newsletters are a waste of time." This quote comes from Thomas Gensemer of Obama's team proclaiming nonprofit newsletters are a waste of time. Apparently, what he actually meant was that nonprofits should send shorter emails. Don't stop sending e-newsletters; just make them shorter with higher impact. And who can argue with that?
So there you go. The competition for space in the inbox is fierce. Social media is the 1st choice. And e-newsletters need to go on a diet and lose some words. But look at it this way…if it is your responsibility to put the monthly newsletter together; a little bit of info can go a long way.
Check out Nonprofit Marketing Guide and more of Kivi's resources. Tons of free stuff as well as subscription webinars and such. You can be your own nonprofit guru in no time.
Advantage Printing (@davidamoore) provides print & marketing services for churches, nonprofits, and small businesses. Email marketing workshops are available free of charge for churches and nonprofits.