An email newsletter is a digital piece of communication delivered to a person’s inbox. These online newsletters are often just one part of an NGO’s digital marketing campaign – online and technology-based efforts to engage with an audience and persuade them to perform a specific task. Email newsletters are powerful marketing tools. Marketing is all about convincing a group of people to change their behavior in one way or another. Email newsletter marketing does this by delivering strategic messages to a person’s inbox. Whether your email newsletter is meant to promote your organization, prompt people to visit your website, or encourage them to support your cause financially or as a volunteer, your email newsletter must have a specific goal. Gone are the days of newsletters being attached to emails as Microsoft Word documents or PDF files. The email newsletters of today are integrated directly into the body of an email. That means recipient see the newsletter as soon as you open the message.
Some Important Terminology
There are a few specialized terms you may come across when searching for information about email newsletters.
Email campaign: While it may sound complicated, an email campaign is simply another name for the email newsletter you design and send;
Mailing list: The email addresses that will receive your newsletter;
Click-through: A click-through is a fancy way to describe the action of someone opening a link within your email newsletter. If someone clicks a link in the newsletter and gets sent to your website, that is considered a click-through;
Conversions: Similar to the “click-through” a conversion is another name to describe an action that has been taken by the person reading your newsletter. For example, someone opening your email is a conversion. Someone clicking a link within your newsletter is also a conversion. The term comes from successfully prompting someone to complete a specific task.
Why Should My NGO Use Email Newsletters?
It’s no secret that more people than ever before are accessing information online. With that in mind, why not get people’s attention in a place they’re already checking every day: their email inbox. Email newsletters have all sorts of uses. First, they’re an impressive way to engage with donors, prospective funders, and other high-level partners.
Medium of Reporting
Email newsletters can also be a good way to remind stakeholders of your NGO’s work in a more creative and less formal way than regular reporting. They may be your Board of directors, donors, supporters or beneficiaries. It helps to bring everyone on the same page.
Email newsletters are not just an effective way to share news, stories, and photos from your NGO – they can also be a fundraising tool. Studies have shown email newsletters are the most effective online tool an NGO can use to solicit donations – even more so than social media and direct “donate” links on an organization’s website. A good newsletter should always have a call to action – a specific task you’re prompting the reader to do. If that call to action is to have recipients donate, then you will want to re-emphasize that throughout the newsletter.
Next, email marketing is an inexpensive way to regularly check in with people who care about your organization. The low price tag may be especially alluring to smaller grassroots NGOs. But don’t be mistaken – you can still create a tailored, informative newsletter using a free platform.
Email Newsletter Best Practices
Here are some best practices to keep in mind after you have selected an application to design your newsletter.
Be consistent in style
A newsletter design should not be a free-for-all. Chances are your NGO has specific branding. Stay as consistent as possible with this brand, and match colors and fonts in your email newsletter when possible.
Include your logo
This goes along with good branding. An email newsletter should be recognizable as being from your organization. That means including your NGO logo at the top of the newsletter and reiterating the organization’s name throughout the body of the newsletter.
Be a tease
As stated earlier, newsletters do not replace a website. If linking to content on your website, email newsletters should contain just a brief one or two “teaser” line that appeals to readers enough that they will want to see the full story on your website. This keeps your newsletter content short and also drives traffic to your website.
Put the most important information at the top
People don’t always read their entire email. If there’s something you really want subscribers to know, you should put it at the start of the newsletter. Promote your social media accounts: Remember to link to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Whether this is encouraging readers to “like” or “follow” your page, or share a specific piece of newsletter content on their own social media page, social links are important.
Allow the option to unsubscribe
It is legally required that email newsletter senders include an unsubscribe button in their newsletter. Customers have the right to stop their information being used for direct marketing. You must make it easy to opt out from your newsletter subscribers list using an ‘unsubscribe’ link.[Note: Do research the newest data statute affecting the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)]
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