Tag Archives: enewsletters

6 Steps to Take Before You Start an Enewsletter

Many nonprofits start an enewsletter and then think through how they are going to manage it day-to-day. Like most things, this is not the optimal way. Here are 6 crucial steps to take before you start an enewsletter.

 1) Chart your course.
Before you start an enewsletter, ask some questions:
-who is my audience(s)?
-what do I want from them?
-what do they want from me?
-how often will they want it?
-what resources (staff time, money, etc.) can I devote to this?

2) Choose a platform.
There are many enewsletter platform providers you can use. Popular ones include Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Vertical Response. I use MailChimp because it is easy to use, inexpensive, and comes with great technical support. They also have a sense of humor which helps when dealing with the (sometimes) technologically challenged people like myself.

3) Design a template.
The major platform providers are all set up to allow the average user to design their own template. You can customize it with your colors, logos, etc. or you can use a standard template they’ve created. Some agencies prefer to have their enewsletter look like their print newsletter or website. If you want that level of customization, ask a graphic designer to help. I’ve used The Design Stylist many times and the results are astonishing.

When building your template, think about what you want to share and how often. For example,
-how many stories or notices will your enewsletter include?
-will there be a special section for events? For resources?

4) Create an editorial calendar.
Create a 3-6 month calendar outlining what you might write about for each of the stories in your Enewsletters. This isn’t set in stone but will give you a framework with which to work. It will also help you see if you have enough content for the enewsletter. When deciding on topics, keep it relevant. If appropriate, incorporate seasonal items, holiday references, and even the odd, “International day of chocolate covered insects” references. You can also see how your enewsletter content will cross-pollinate your other marketing such as social media, press outreach, and more.

5) Build your enewsletter subscriber list.
It is critical that your subscriber list opt-in. This means that you have their explicit permission to contact them. The best open rate success stories I’ve had with clients have come when two things happen: a) subscribers opt-in and b) content is customized to meet the audiences’ needs. This is to say: don’t buy a list. Take the time to build your own.

Here are a few pointers on building a strong subscriber base:
-put a ‘subscribe now’ link in your email signature line and on your website.
-check and see if your platform provider will set up an app on your Facebook page for fans to opt-in. MailChimp does.
-offer a goodie (like an ebook or a ticket for an opportunity drawing) for subscribers

6) Keep up the good work.
If you’ve done steps 1-5, you are well on your way. Don’t lose momentum! Consistency is as important to success as is content.

What is your best tip for a stellar enewsletter? Share it here or on Facebook.

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5 Tips for A ROCK SOLID Enewsletter

Enewsletters are the bread and butter of online philanthropy.
Yes social media is important – indispensable even – in online fundraising. But remember. . . enewsletters allow you the opportunity to control the message, a luxury social media does not afford.

A great enewsletter can

  • raise funds,
  • encourage in-kind donations,
  • inspire volunteer contributions, and
  • increase overall awareness.

If you are considering starting an enewsletter or if you want to revitalize your current one, read on. . .

5 Tips for A ROCK SOLID Enewsletter

1) Start with a good list. Your mailing list is the ticket to success. Make sure everyone has opted in and that you are following CAN-SPAM laws. These laws are a bit more lenient for nonprofits than for-profits but don’t be fooled: everyone must opt-in. It is more valuable to have a short list of highly motivated readers than a long list of people who think you’re spam.

2) Provide excellent content. Only send out enewsletters as often as you can provide excellent content. As with social media, it is important that enewsletters not be sales pitches. Here are some ideas nonprofits have used:

  • Highlight a donor
  • Give a client testimonial
  • Feature a volunteer
  • Provide an update to a noteworthy program
  • Share how things in the world (economy, politics, etc.) affect your clients or your agency
  • Share your expertise in the form of tips and resources for the reader

3) Be consistent. If you send out the enewsletters sporadically, people will forget they have signed up. If they forget they signed up, they will opt-out. Bad news. Instead, send the newsletters consistently. Once a month is a good place to start. Only if you have a lot of new, valuable content, should you consider doing it more often. If you are wondering what days and times to send the enewsletter, consider mid-week (Tues, Weds, Thurs) either late morning or early afternoon. You can experiment and see what days/times work best for your list.

4) Don’t fuss about open rates. If you are getting an open rate of 20-30%, you’re doing a good job. We can always strive for better but remember this: even if people don’t open the email, they still see your name. That bit of brand recognition goes a long way.

5) Cross pollinate. Share your enewsletter on your social media accounts. Include in your email signature line a link to the web version. Add a link to your website. It’s okay to include some of the same content on all of these accounts. Just make sure that the content is appropriate for the space – no 500 word Facebook posts.

Enewsletters remain one of the best and least expensive ways to communicate with donors, clients, and the larger community.

If you’d like assistance setting up or revitalizing your enewsletters, email me today at jenniferamandajones@gmail.com.

Got ideas? Share your best tips below!