email-marketing-for-nonprofits.jpgDespite the wealth of data about why it’s more effective to create inbound marketing content that is tailored to specific audiences, many nonprofit organizations cannot resist the temptation to send the same email “blast” to their entire contact list.

People expect a personalized online experience. You would certainly recite a different list of benefits for donating to your cause to a first-time donor who is unfamiliar with your organization, than to a large, repeat donor, right? So, instead of sending a mass email to your entire list of major donors, regular donors, volunteers, members, advocates, and fundraisers, segment your email contact database into smaller, specifically targeted lists.

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According to Chadwick Martin Bailey, a Boston market research company, people unsubscribe from email lists for two reasons:

  1. They receive too many emails (69%)
  2. Because the content isn’t relevant (56%)

People ignore email messages that are impersonal, unexpected and unwanted. They will delete the irrelevant email without reading it, unsubscribe from your list, or worse, report your email as spam. A good rule of thumb is, “a thousand lists of one contact each, is better than a single list of 1,000 contacts.”

As a marketer, look at your messages from the point of view of your contact who is receiving them. Does your message answer their questions and address their interests and needs? Does it speak to them in a personal manner? Here are a few ways to segment your email contact list:

  • Donors: segment further by new donors, recurring donors, past donors, amount donated, etc.
  • Members: for membership organizations, segment further by new members, expired or soon-to-be expired members.
  • Fundraisers: segment further by amount raised
  • Volunteers: segment further by committee or event
  • Partners and Sponsors

Email is an inexpensive and powerful channel for communicating with your nonprofit constituents. Regardless of how narrowly you segment your list, create email messages that are relevant, personalized and that your recipients expect. Here are a few tips: 

  • Do not purchase lists. These contacts are not expecting to receive email from your organization, so many will opt out or mark the message as spam. Instead, take the time to build your own list of email subscribers.
  • Do not compile a list of emails from all your board members’ personal contacts. Again, these recipients have not opted in to receive emails from you. Instead, compose a message that your board members may use as a template to compose a personal message to their contacts.