overlay know your email audience

How to Write to Your Audience and Improve Your Marketing

No matter nonprofit sector you’re in, email is still one of the most effective ways to convey your message. In the past we’ve discussed tips for good design, how to feel confident before hitting send, and how vital it is to have a responsive email. Today, we’re going to talk about one often overlooked element of emails: who is actually receiving them.

Your email list is made up of all kinds of different people with all kinds of different perspectives. If you’re like most organizations, though, you’re sending all of those different people the exact same email messages.

Send the Right Messages to the Right People

A better way to approach your email program is to allow people to sign up for the kinds of messages they want to receive. These categories could focus on general communications, program-specific communications, advocacy only, etc. Providing subscribers the option to only receive the messages they are interested in receiving will create greater engagement and lower your unsubscribe rates.

Next, it’s time to segment your audiences down even further. For example, you could break down donation appeals into separate messages that target non-donors, low-dollar donors, and major givers or monthly donors vs. one-time donors. Segmentation is important because it ensures that your message is relevant to the person receiving it. Someone who donates regularly should get a very different message from someone who has never donated at all!

Pro tip: When creating audiences, think about the different motivations people have for supporting your organization. You may have one mission, but people support it for different reasons!

Research What’s Working, and What’s Not

If you aren’t measuring your efforts, how can you know what messages are effective and what aren’t? Luckily, many of today’s marketing tools have powerful data reporting built right into them.

To start with, you should be tracking your email open rates, click-through rates, and response rates. When you have at least a few months’ worth of those numbers, you can compare your results to industry benchmarks – M+R Benchmarks report is a great place to look.

Once you’re beginning to see how your email messages are performing, you can make changes to test their effect. A/B testing, or split-testing, involves changing one part of your email and sending those two versions to two separate segments of your audience.

For example, you might have one version of an appeals message that has a large image at the top and another version that does not. When you send these two versions out to two different segments of your list, you can look at your data to see which performed better. Other A/B tests could involve subject lines, images, or text.

Pro tip: Be sure to change only one element per test. For example, if you are testing subject lines the rest of the message should be completely the same. If you test more than one element at once, you can’t be sure which change is making the difference!

If you’re already tracking your open rates, click-throughs, and response rates, what’s next? Google Analytics is not only a powerful tool for more advanced data discovery, it’s also free! Investing the time into understanding Google Analytics is one of the best ways to improve your email marketing. If you are just getting started with Google Analytics, check out some of our tips.

Segmenting your audience, crafting messages by audience groups, and tracking your progress all take a bit more time, but the benefits are endless. To make the most of your email program, you need to treat it like the powerful tool that it is. And, best of all, the more effort you put in, the more success you’ll see.

Want to take your email program to the next level? Get in touch with us today!


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