12 August 2019

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Tips & Tricks

Articles to give you more insight into newsletter marketing

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.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 12:35

Making the Most of Your Nonprofit Newsletter

If you’re in charge of your nonprofit newsletter, there’s a good chance that content creation and writing articles are continually on your “To Do” list. About two-thirds of nonprofits send out print newsletters, typically each quarter. On top of that, more than 40% of organisations are sending monthly email updates. Are you approaching content burnout?

Here are a few nonprofit newsletter tips that can help you consistently leverage your content across more channels, saving you time and energy by making your good work last longer.

Don’t Lock Up Your Best Content for Print

Because of the costs associated with sending a print newsletter, it makes sense that you’d want to hold your best stories until the next issue. But why wait? Most people aren’t digesting each piece of communication that you send or post, so there’s no danger in publishing a story on your website’s blog and then talking about it from a different perspective in your next issue. Also, remember that writing for the web and for print are very different tasks, so ignore that urge to copy and paste!

When you wait, you put the relevance of your news at risk. Take the breadcrumb approach and allow people to follow along by sharing pieces of stories over time in print and digital. When done well, you’ll look coordinated, not repetitive.

Use Your Blog as a Publishing Platform

Continually updating your website is a tough task when you have more pressing marketing projects. So why not let your nonprofit newsletter do the work? Use your blog as a publishing platform by posting each of your print and email newsletter articles separately – and not held hostage in a PDF! Search engines will reward the freshness of your site, and people can easily zero in on the latest news and updates.

Another benefit of this approach is that each story will have a digital anchor that you can link to on social media. Pick a relevant photo and put together some teaser text to accompany the link back to your blog.

Get Creative with Nonprofit Newsletter Content

Do you find yourself using the same format for each article in your newsletter? If you’re bored by the repetition, it’s a safe assumption that your readers are, too. Luckily, variety works for print and digital. Try out some types of newsletter content that show your audience that you care about the same things:

  • Lists of interesting facts or quotes about your issue
  • Book review that relates to the story or approach of your work
  • Announcement about an upcoming awareness day and how to get involved
  • How-to tutorial or DIY project that helps the community you serve

Moving beyond the traditional “article” frees you up to share your content in new ways, especially when it comes to re-purposing on social media and email. You’re also more likely to engage people when you offer them some kind of extra value or resource like in the examples above.

Ditch the President’s Message

Building on the previous tip, it’s time to rethink the ever-present message from your nonprofit’s Executive Director. If it’s not something that’s useful outside of your newsletter, is it really carrying its weight? A good “message from the president” helps your organisation seem more relevant, inspiring and real. But more often than not, it’s like a table of contents in paragraph form.

Here’s another test: is it something that your Board president would want to share on their personal LinkedIn account? Unless it has some strong thought leadership that you (and others) can leverage, start thinking about a new direction or filling that space with newsletter content that matters to more people.

Follow Up on Your Best Stories

Now that you’re making your newsletter content available online, you also have the bonus ability to measure how it’s doing! Not only that, you can specifically track which stories lead to donations. Make a note in your editorial calendar to follow-up on the top performing content in a few weeks or months as a way to republish it and provide new details. You can also use this data to do an “in case you missed this” round-up blog post or email that shares the most popular recent stories.

Creating content for your nonprofit newsletter shouldn’t be a dead-end task. Make it work for you by planning in advance to share it on your blog, social media and by email. When you think beyond print and a last minute email update, you’ll start to see that your newsletter better serves your marketing goals and your readers.

What are some other ways that nonprofits can re-purpose their newsletters? Do you have any tricks to creating newsletter content that goes the extra mile? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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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