Tips & Tricks

Articles to give you more insight into newsletter marketing

A healthy email list is vital to any business. Thanks to bounces, unsubscribes and address changes, you can lose upwards of one-third of your list each year. If you’re not replacing churned email addresses with new active ones, your business can feel the impact.

Here are 15 tips to help you clean, maintain and grow your email list.

Remove or win back inactive contacts

Many email list guidelines recommend waiting for a full year of inactivity before removing a subscriber from your mailing list, but many providers now advise removing inactive email addresses after just six months of inactivity. 

That said, it’s important that you try to engage a subscriber before removing him or her from your list. There’s a variety of ways you can win subscribers back or at least learn from their behaviour before they go.

Tip No. 1: Send a “we miss you” email with a special offer or discount code to see if you can incentivize the customer to make a purchase.

Tip No. 2: Send a polite “fish or cut bait” email asking if they’d like to confirm they want to stay on your email list before you remove them.

Tip No. 3: Find out why they’re inactive. When you give your contacts a way to unsubscribe after a long period of inactivity, give them a one-click survey on your unsubscribe page to find out why they’re leaving. Too many emails? Irrelevant content? Not enough discounts? Use the information to keep the next contact from leaving. You can also include a similar survey on your unsubscribe confirmation page.

Maintain the working parts of your list

Tip No. 4: Mail your list at least once a month. It will keep your readers engaged, increase the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase or donation, and let you know (via bounce-backs) which accounts are no longer active.

Tip No. 5: There are some great tools to help you maintain a healthy email list. Kickbox helps eliminates bounces before you launch your email campaign by “scrubbing” your list and replacing it with a squeaky-clean version. Kickbox uses a real-time API to verify email addresses before it adds a subscriber to your list. It also detects disposable email domains, role-based email addresses (e.g., webmaster@, info@, support@) and low-quality addresses. All Kickbox users get 100 free verifications every day. What’s more, VerticalResponse users get a 10 percent discount for additional verifications.

Tip No. 6: You’ll also want to take a cue from your open rates. If 99 percent of your list isn’t opening your email, you’ll need to do some work on your subject lines and the timing of your emails (day of the week and time of day). Dasheroo allows you to instantly view key stats from your VerticalResponse emails alongside your other apps like Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics and many more, all in one easy-to-understand business dashboard! And it’s free.

Tip No. 7: If you’re not already doing it, consider segmenting your emails based on purchases or links clicked. If you sell clothing and certain customers only purchase men’s clothing, they may not want to receive your emails promoting sales on children’s apparel. Likewise, if you sell pet supplies, you can divide your list into categories based on the animal(s) they buy for or are interested in.

Grow your list

Tip No. 8: One of the simplest ways to collect email addresses is with a sign up form on your website or blog. It’s easy to set up, and you don’t have to think about it once you created it. VerticalResponse offers sign up forms for free with every account.

Tip No. 9: You can also collect emails at expos or brick-and-mortar locations. Encourage visitors to drop their card into a fishbowl for a chance to win something. People understand that by doing so, you will include them on your email list.

Tip No. 10: Some retail stores have great success obtaining emails at the register when customers pay. You can offer incentives, such as discounts and promotions, for signing up.

Tip No. 11: Tatango allows new contacts to add their email address to your list with a simple text. Customers text your business’s unique word to 33733, and they’ll be asked to reply with their email address. You can add up to 250 contacts each month to your VerticalResponse email list.

Tip No. 12: Run a contest on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest requiring participants to supply their email address to enter. Remember to follow contest guidelines for each social network. 

Tip No. 13: Justuno is a tool that allows you to build email lists with incentive-based promotions. Using an instant offer widget, you can offer site visitors a coupon code or free download if they join your email list.

Tip No. 14:  Include a link to your sign up form in your personal email signature.

Tip No. 15: Collect contact information with Twitter Lead Generation Cards, which requires the reader to do nothing more than click on the call to action and then hit submit. The beauty of these cards is that the person’s name, Twitter handle and email address is automatically filled in for them. You can see how to set up a Twitter Lead Generation Card in this short video.

Email newsletters continue to offer a steady stream of website traffic for many nonprofits. But what if you could up your email game by employing nonprofit newsletter best practices and drive even more traffic to your site? These are people who’ve already shown their passion for your cause and requested regular updates. Make the most of these supporters by driving them to your nonprofit website to complete important calls to action.

Nonprofit Newsletter Best Practices

In general, your nonprofit’s newsletters should be a useful and concise recap of what’s happened since the last update. Keeping in that line of thought, nonprofit newsletter best practices tell us to send these puppies regularly, at the same day and time, in regular intervals. You want your supporters to know that they can count on you, and this regularity and familiarity helps to achieve that confidence.

Though every nonprofit is different, the goals of your email newsletters are going to be fairly similar across the board. We want to build a community among supporters and drive them to act. Let’s jump into the best practices you can adopt to drive more website traffic from your email newsletters.

Link to Your Website

This may seem like a bit of a no-brainer. To drive more traffic to your website, you need to include avenues for that traffic to follow within your email newsletter. All of your calls to action, buttons and images within your newsletter should link to a real page on your website. Whether it’s teasing a blog post and linking to the full post or asking supporters to donate to a new fundraising effort and taking them to your donate page, you should be pushing people to your website to convert. You’ll want to make it easy for supporters to find more information and actually taking those actions that you’re asking of them.

As you’re double-checking your email before you send it out, be sure to check all of these links and ensure they’re working properly and directing people to the pages you intended. There’s nothing worse than losing a potential donation or volunteer because of a broken link!

Make the Content on Your Website Useful

Following the previous best practice of linking, the content that you’re linking to should be high quality and add real value. Otherwise, why promote it to your supporters at all? When a subscriber clicks on a link and is taken to a page that’s bare, poorly written or in any way off-putting, that subscriber is not only unlikely to convert, but also unlikely to click on your email calls to action in the future. As you can imagine, content is incredibly important in the conversion process.

Share your most recent blog posts or even older posts that are timely again. The content you’re sharing doesn’t necessarily need to be new, you’ll just need to find a way to make it topical if it’s not.

Welcome New Subscribers

There’s an excellent opportunity to educate new supporters about your cause as soon as they subscribe your email newsletter. When a new subscriber joins your mailing list, you want to ease them into your newsletter and give them a good amount of background information to bring them up to speed and make them feel like an important part of the community.

Of course, we realize that there just isn’t enough time in the day to personally welcome all of your new subscribers and fill them in on everything that’s going on. That’s the beauty of marketing automation. Create a welcome series of between two and four emails that automatically sends to every new subscriber. Share your mission and information on what your organization is all about to start the series. You could also introduce your programs and link to important pages on your website.

Encourage Sharing

You’re putting in a lot of effort to create great content to link to in your newsletter. But are you missing opportunities to share it in other places? Don’t be afraid to include social media buttons within your newsletters or to encourage supporters to visit your social media pages, even specific posts, and join the conversation. Social media can be a great way to foster the community building you incite with your welcome email series.

In your next newsletter, encourage your subscribers to share a recent blog post on Facebook, follow your organization on Twitter or comment on your blog. Engagement across multiple channels will help to grow your audience (with the added bonus of more traffic) as more people see, share and subscribe to your content. And you can kickstart all of this engagement with your newsletter!

Email is still one of the best ways to get your message out. You have a list of folks who’ve told you they want to hear about what’s going on at your nonprofit on a regular basis. Use it to drive traffic and conversions on your website.

Are there any other ways that your nonprofit drives traffic from email? What nonprofit newsletter best practices do you follow? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Writing an email newsletter can be tough, and working up the nerve to release it to your faithful subscribers can be even tougher. What if there’s a technical error? Will people open this? Did I spell everything right? Sit tight, we’ve got you covered.

Just keep this checklist handy when you’re ready to double check your newsletter. If you can say yes to these 7 things, you’ll be home free.

My newsletter is easy to read.

Online readers are fond of skimming and picking out only what is most pertinent to them to read in full. To optimise your newsletter content for easy viewing, paragraphs should be short, 3-4 sentences long. Huge blocks of text will lose readers, and no one wants that. Subheadings can break up different sections and make it even easier to skim through quickly.

Keep the most important information above the scroll line, in case someone does not scroll. Including too many different fonts and sizes can be visually confusing, so be consistent with the style. And definitely, don’t forget to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.

My subject line works.

Subject lines are often the sole decision-making factor behind whether or not someone opens your email. You want it to be punchy and compelling, with a call to action that subscribers will follow. If that seems like too much to ask, take baby steps. You can experiment with different types of subject lines until you find the verbiage most subscribers are apt to open.

My content is compelling and relevant.

Your subscribers opted to receive newsletters from you because they are interested in your content and care about your mission. They want to hear what you have to say, so tell them in a way that piques interest. The content in your newsletter should apply to everyone you send it to. If the content is more specific, consider segmenting your subscription list to target different audiences.

The content should meet all the nonprofit’s goals for the newsletter with clear calls to action. You want to keep readers engaged and interested, but the newsletter does have a purpose beyond that. And you want to be sure you get there.

My newsletter is user-friendly.

Include all applicable sharing buttons linked to social media and email to make the content easy for readers to share. Make sure everything that should be linked is linked. Those links are easy to click and when clicked open in a new window for seamless navigation. It’s also a good idea to have alternate text for all your images, in case the images don’t load for some subscribers. In the same line of thinking, the email should make sense without those images.

I performed tests to ensure the newsletter will display correctly.

Most email providers allow you to send out a test email. Some tests will automatically populate the line with ‘test,’ or you might put that in yourself just to keep track. If you do this, make sure you take ‘test’ out of the subject line before you send it. If you personalise your emails with names, dates or other data, make sure that data is complete and pulling in correctly.

Be sure to test all of the common browsers, email providers and devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Ensure everything displays the way you imagined and that it loads quickly. Following best practices, including a plain text version to optimise deliverability.

Everything checks out legally.

It would be unfortunate to get bogged down in legal fees and proceedings over something as silly as forgetting to include a footer. The CAN-SPAM law requires you to have a footer in the email with your nonprofit’s valid postal address and an easy way to unsubscribe from any unwanted emails, among other things. Double check to make sure everyone who unsubscribed is off the list. You want to be sure you have permission to send emails to everyone on the list.

I did everything I can to avoid the spam folder.

Write an interesting subject line? It’s honest about what the email contains, without being saturated with buzz words. Send the email from a trusted email, such as an account with your nonprofit’s name in it that subscribers will recognise as you. You can even include something in the newsletter reminding your subscribers to make sure you are not marked as spam.

If you can respond affirmatively to all of these things, you’re good to go. Go ahead and hit send!

How do you double check an email newsletter before you send it? Do you have any other suggestions to add to our list? Let us know in the comments.

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