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Updated November 2020

Email marketing is certainly not a new trend, and these days is staple form of communication for any nonprofit association. It is fast, easy, inexpensive, and effective for reaching a large number of people. It is the anchor to any marketing strategy; but there is a lot more to effective email marketing than simply hitting send. There are several important factors to keep in mind to boost email outreach. Done correctly, email marketing is an essential piece to building more personal relationships with your members and strengthening your association’s mission. Keep this list of tips and tricks in-mind and on-hand to be your guide for optimized email marketing.

1. Define the Purpose of the Email & Create a Clear Call to Action

Some organizations send emails as frequently as they post on Twitter, so how can you make sure your email stands out among the clutter? Start by asking yourself why you are sending this email. Is the goal to inform members about current happenings in the association? Are you engaging members by offering information about upcoming events or networking opportunities? Are you looking for volunteers to help with a new program? Whatever the reason, make sure there is a defined purpose for your email, and identify a clear call to action. When members can understand the email based on the subject line alone, you’re doing something right.

2. Keep it Short and Simple

Imagine that you are the recipient and you are in the middle of your workday. How often do you open a lengthy email and think “I don’t have time to read this right now. I will come back to it later,” only to find that you never actually do? If you keep your emails streamlined and concise, your recipients will be much more likely to read them. Even better, by including larger font, bullet points, and sectioned content, your email is even easier to understand at a quick glance. The same goes for subject lines — with upwards of 46% of emails opened on mobile devices first, limit the length of your subject line so it grabs your reader’s attention and does not get cut off. Try not to use more than 9 words and 60 characters.

3. Be Strategic When Asking for Something

Email is a means of communication, but using it exclusively to ask your members to volunteer or pay dues can leave a poor impression. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that you will get whatever it is you are asking for. Instead, plan ahead and put together a timeline of when to send your emails and what types of emails to send. Include information about upcoming events, networking opportunities, news, and resources that your members can use. It is much more effective to diversify your email communications so that you’re not always asking for something from your members.

4. Time it Right

Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing. Many studies have been conducted to find out when the best times are to send emails. According to Campaign Monitor’s
Ultimate Email Marketing Benchmarks for 2020: By Industry and Day, the best day of the week to send emails are Tuesdays, and the worst days are Saturdays. All organizations differ, as everyone has a different target audience. One good habit you can start (if you haven’t already) is to regularly check the open and click-through rates for your own emails to get even more insight to when (and how) your members are engaging.

5. Send Regularly

When it comes to communication, consistency is key. That means it is important to schedule regular emails such as monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly newsletters/bulletins. The more consistent the communication, the more likely you will maintain your members’ attention.

These best practices for email marketing can help to improve member engagement and raise more awareness for your organization.

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