3 Simple Tricks to Improve Email Marketing

Did you know know that overall online giving grew by 19% last year? From the same report, it’s likely due to the fact that for every 1000 email subscribers, nonprofits have about 500 social media followers between Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Supporters and potential supporters are more intertwined in your nonprofit messaging because digital advertising is more accessible than it used to be. Not more than a handful of years ago, those numbers would have been zero.

With that being said, the red thread seems to be your email list. They’re bought in enough and care to be told what you’re up to on a regular basis. Pair this with social media engagement, and you’ve got a pretty decent online giving strategy on your hands.

We recently took a deep dive in social media tips and tricks, and I’ve done my fair share of scolding on how to get people to care about your e-newsletters, so here’s how to improve email marketing and keep your strategy in top form once you have the email captured:

Send regular emails

A lot of people try to build a list but don’t have a lot of good things to add to peoples’ lives, and they’re not doing it regularly. Keeping your emails on a regular schedule will help people engage because they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into and when they’re getting it. Email marketing software will allow subscribers to specify their preferences as well. This way they can specify if only want your monthly or weekly email, or if they’re really engaged, they could even want daily updates.

I’m more inclined to delete emails from companies and organizations that send emails at random, compared to receiving emails on a specific day of the week or time of day.

Don’t be afraid to send multiple emails per week, so long as each individual subscriber knows what they’re getting into before they subscribe. Typically, the (second) worst-case scenario is that someone will delete the email without reading it, which in all reality, isn’t that bad. Seldom will someone actually unsubscribe for getting too many emails.

Keep the visuals in check

I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of email lists that I was actually interested in because they overdid it with the visuals. It was to the point that I couldn’t even read what they were actually trying to say between all the stock photos and graphics. Some of the most successful email campaigns Nonprofit Hub has implemented were very basic in design, written in a similar format to this article, from our executive director as a personal message with almost no visuals. 

People are getting more and more familiar with stock photography which means it can sometimes hurt more than it helps. I don’t want your stock images, I want your content. Adding visuals and graphics is not always a bad thing, but get to the point and make sure the reader can actually hear what you’re trying to say.

Show you’re human

When your list starts to grow, for whatever reason we tend to default to a more robotic voice rather than staying conversational. No one wants to offend anyone, but keeping your voice, personality, and showing your human is so important with email marketing. I get between 10 and 25 emails per day from companies trying to sell me products (I’m a sucker for 25% off), but I typically only read the ones who actually sound the way someone would talk. Most people will judge your email immediately and decide whether to open or delete it just by the subject line.


Some of my personal favorite lists include the Love Does and Chubbies e-newsletters (very different, I know), but there are plenty of awesome email newsletters for nonprofit professionals. One of the best ways to improve your email marketing is by subscribing to a few lists and taking note of things you like and dislike and making those changes in your own strategy.

improve email marketing

Nick Small

With specialties in content strategy and creation, social media engagement and digital marketing optimization, Nick brings a depth of experience in nonprofit marketing. He’s also helped hundreds of nonprofits with their online presence to improve donor retention and attract new audiences, and he still has time for a good glass of whiskey, round of golf or new adventure.

April 1, 2017

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