4 Things Successful Email Campaigns Have

If you are a nonprofit organization, chances are you do at least some email marketing to sell tickets, bring in donations, or share upcoming events. Of all the digital marketing methods out there, email has been around the longest but it consistently demonstrates the highest ROI.


With the evolution of social media in recent years, attention has moved away from email in favor of paid and organic social media engagement. However, email is still more likely to bring in actual dollars to your organization.

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

1. Clean Email Layout

Having a clean, easy-to-read design is key!

Emails that feature a compelling image and one to two paragraphs of text are far more likely to convert. 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 at your email stats in your email software provider and see what your percentage is.)

Here are some additional things to look at for the most recent marketing email you sent. Is the answer "yes" to these questions:

  • Does it 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 it?

2. 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 a surefire way to boost engagement. Most often, your CTAs will drive readers over to your website to buy a ticket or make a donation.

A CTA doesn't always have to involve a purchase. Whether you are featuring a blog post, recruiting volunteers, or share information about an upcoming free event, including a bold CTA button created with a contrasting color is your ticket to more click throughs.

3. A Descriptive Subject Line

Readers spend less than a second deciding whether or not to open your email after it arrives in their inbox. To ensure you get the most opens possible, make sure that your subject line reflects the content in the email.

Let's pretend you are sending an email about a new blog post featuring a behind-the-scenes interview with a performer. Rather than using a subject line like "New on our blog," switch it to something like "Go backstage with Tosca."

Also, data shows that shorter subject lines perform better so try keeping yours under 50 characters. Not only is a shorter subject line easy to read, but it is perfect for reading 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 who would find this email to be the most relevant.

Email efficacy relies heavily on relevance. The people on your email list(s) all have different needs and interests and not every email is going to be relevant to every person.

The messaging in the email should match the list segment to which it is sent.

Let's think of a quick example.

The email you would like to send out is promoting memberships to your organization. In order for it to be successful, it should go to people on your list who have the highest propensity to become a member. You can determine this through a mix of demographic and behavioral methods.

People who would be the most interested in a membership will likely be:

  • Patrons who have visited your organization or have 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.

This approach 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.

ceci150x1502.jpg

Ceci is the Digital Marketing Manager at FORM, a web development and creative services firm for Arts & Culture and Nonprofits. She has 14 years of experience working with arts organizations and nonprofits and she travels the country speaking at conferences and hosting workshops.

Photo: David G. Kanzeg

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