Sign Me Up
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of great stuff about creating an email welcome series. Which I think is a GREAT idea. But it got me wondering how many nonprofits even have ONE great welcome email let alone a SERIES. So I cruised 100 larger well-known nonprofit’s websites and signed up to be on their email lists.
1. Only about 60% of the sites I visited even had email/enews signup options – this could be because some of the larger nonprofits have plenty of options for gathering email addresses through various campaigns – but I was still pretty surprised. I didn’t go digging deep into the websites to search for any enews signups – mostly because that would just be weird – what’s the point if it’s not easy to find?
2. Only 24% of those welcome emails that I received actually used my name – a name which most of them have because quite a few of the forms had me fill out at least my first name in addition to my email.
3. About 50% of the welcome emails I received were downright unfriendly. And by unfriendly I mean they were short, to the point and written in a non-conversational tone that really didn’t make me feel welcome. The most unfriendly ones were the ones that were nothing but automated confirmations of the email signup and I wouldn’t really call those welcome letters. See below for a better description of Friendly vs. Unfriendly!
Friendly vs. Unfriendly
Since this welcome email is likely the first contact a website visitor has with the nonprofit, it really can set the tone for the whole relationship. It’s like when someone new moves into the neighborhood; you can pretend they aren’t there unless you happen to run into them, you can go over and formally introduce yourself and then stare at each other in uncomfortable silence, or you can bake cookies, say hello and invite them over to a BBQ to get to know them better.
What makes your first encounter friendly?
1. A letter format that uses a Dear (person’s name) at the top and an actual signature from a human being at the bottom (even a photo is great!).
2. Getting excited with exclamation points and everything!!
3. Making them feel they are part of a larger community.
What makes your first encounter unfriendly?
1. A Just the Facts ma’am approach with no extra details.
What should be part of your email?
1. “Trouble Viewing This Message? Click here to view online.”
2. A Thank you.
3. Tell them what to expect i.e. how often and what types of emails they will be getting.
4. Show them the value of what they are getting.
5. Links to important resources on your website.
6. Give them an opportunity to get involved or take action now – not necessarily to directly donate but maybe to sign a petition, fill out a survey, or participate in a contest.
7. Put the donate now button or link somewhere in the email but don’t make the email a big donation push.
8. Share buttons to share the email on their social media pages.
9. Ask them to add your email address to their “safe senders” list.
10. The usual privacy statement (or link to it) and unsubscribe options – but don’t make this the major part of the email.
11. Organization name in the From field – people won’t recognize your staff so they may not even open the email if an unknown person is listed in the From field. One nonprofit used their initials only in the From field and then never actually spelled out their name ANYWHERE in the email so I had to figure out who it was by clicking on the website link!!!
12. It doesn’t hurt to add credibility logos like partners, affiliations, memberships!