Insights
3 min Read
September 26, 2013

Blog carnival: Nine steps to smarter, more effective emails

Step right up, ladies and gents—the Nonprofit Blog Carnival is back, packed with terrific resources from nonprofit experts all around the web on this month’s topic: 

Tips, examples, best practices, and ideas for creating powerful, effective emails.

Try your luck with one of these smart posts (really, you can’t go wrong):

  1. Begin at the beginning: the envelope. As Claire Axelrad of Clairification points out, your sender and subject line (the “envelope”) are the first thing your reader will see, and they’re often the deciding factor in whether she clicks or deletes. So make them count. (Claire also takes home the grand prize for the most extensive use of duck language and imagery!)
  2. No, seriously—the envelope. Joanne Fritz (Carnival organizer extraordinaire!) has some helpful guidance on crafting an effective subject line that will have your message “quacking to be opened.”
  3. Keep your promises. Whether you think about it this way or not, you’ve made a promise to your email subscribers to deliver relevant content—and if you break that promise, you can’t expect them to keep listening and clicking and giving. Nancy Schwartz on Getting Attention has some good ideas for keeping an eye on the prize: providing real value to your subscribers.
  4. Make your content contagious. So how can you deliver information that your readers actually want? Lori Halley at Wild Apricot suggests a helpful framework for writing emails that are powerful, personal, and relevant.
  5. Automate. A well-crafted welcome series can be both a time-saver and a great way to build relationships. Win-win! Soak in some smart thinking on automated emails and a step-by-step on getting started from Vanessa Chase at Philanthropy for All.
  6. Check your work. Testing is really the best way to find out what works when it comes to your email list, and it’s easier than it might sond—Donna Mehr at Smart Annual Giving will walk you through the whys and hows
  7. Make connections. Email can be a great tool for driving engagement in other channels, as Cassie Bair of mGive Blog illustrates in an interesting post (full of top-notch Duck punnery) about using email to build mobile community
  8. Embrace your inner techie. Knowing a little about how emails are built can help you spot new opportunities—like these clever technical tips from Andy Adams over at Whistling Duck Blog (hi, fellow duck!) for upping your engagement.
  9. Build on what you know. Even if you’re new to email marketing, there’s a lot you can learn from your past experiences crafting smart communications in other channels. For inspiration, check out this post from Joe Garecht at The Fundraising Authority on some of the similarities and differences between offline (direct mail) fundraising and email fundraising.
  10. And one more for the road… It’s not about email marketing, strictly speaking, but it’s useful to take a step back from time to time and think about how we use email as an internal communications tool. Erik Anderson on Donor Dreams Blog offers some wise advice for emailing effectively with your board.

Hope you’ve found some useful tips—I’m looking forward to getting your even-more-excellent emails in my inbox very soon.

Next month’s Carnival will be hosted by Claire Axelrad of Clairification, and she’s picked a great topic: getting and sustaining major gifts. Check out her call for submissions to learn more, and if you haven’t yet, sign up for email updates when the Carnival goes live.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to track down some funnel cake… 

Related Content