This article written by CanadaHelps was originally published on Hilborn. View
It is no secret that an eNewsletter is a key communication piece for most non-profits. eNewsletter’s are content pieces that allow you to share client stories and testimonials, campaign updates, new projects, achievements, and more with supporters. When implemented effectively, your organization’s eNewsletter has the ability to not only inform and educate, but to deepen your supporter’s connection to your cause and inspire incremental donations, volunteerism and create cause ambassadors.
But between publishing and deploying eNewsletter’s and keeping your social media channels active, all while running your core fundraising events and appeals, is your non-profit stretched? Here are three guide posts for keeping your eNewsletter’s – and social media channels – fresh, engaging and effective.
1. Start with Your Blog
The biggest challenges non-profits face with their eNewsletter’s, and social media channels, is how to continually generate fresh and effective content. A blog can seem daunting to some non-profits, as resources are often limited and it can seem challenging to keep up with new and engaging content that will be of value to your supporters. But, before you say you don’t have time to manage another thing, here’s why you need to start with your blog:
- It brings people back to your website. That’s one step closer to joining your email, making a donation, attending your event, or reading a full array of the amazing content you’ve crafted.
- You can leverage it across all your communication channels. If you’re like most, you’re doing well if 25% of your supporters open your eNewsletter or your social post reaches 10% of your followers. So, while you’ll need to tweak messages and visuals for each channel, you absolutely can and should deliver the same blog content across your various channels.
- It’s your ticket to stop rewriting the same piece. Not all your social media and eNewsletter content needs to be net new. Be sure your blog strategy includes developing evergreen (always valuable), and perennial (valuable at the same time each year) posts. Then, give those great evergreen and perennial posts new life in this year’s eNewsletter and social media outreach.
- You can recruit help! Blogs should be a collaborative effort. Board members, staff members, volunteers, supporters, clients and experts in the field can all write for your blog.
2. Establish the Optimal Frequency
With your blog as the backbone, start by figuring out the number of posts that are feasible for your organization. Again, remember to recruit help; by providing effective writing guidelines and offering writer’s public credit as the author of the post –this can be easier than you might think. On the social side, you will now have a full array of blogs to fuel your content and as a result you will only need to focus on more turnkey, topical, and conversational posts.
Once you are up and running, you’ll want to refine the frequency in which you send your communications. Unfortunately, there is no universal correct cadence as organizations and their subscriber lists all vary. So, there is only one real way to establish the right frequency for your non-profit. Test, test, test! Start with sending an eNewsletter on a monthly basis for example, and then divide your list in two and maintain your current frequency with one group, and increase or decrease the frequency with the other group to see the impact this might have on open and click-through rates.
3. Shift Your Focus to Optimizing By Communication Channel
Whether it’s your eNewsletter or social media channels, you need to optimize the content to ensure it is effective. Your eNewsletter likely does the heavy lifting in terms of results, and requires more focus in optimizing the content and design. Here are a two key tips:
- Ensure your subject line will lead to opens: Without a strong subject line, your audience is unlikely to open your email, and your message would go unseen. It is critical to really focus on subject lines, and put in the time and effort to ensure your subject line entices and intrigues the recipient to open your email and continue reading.
Strong subject lines will be personalized, create a sense of urgency and really intrigue recipients while also being as clear and descriptive as possible. Being concise in your subject lines Is also important – it is better to keep your subject line short and descriptive, while providing the recipient with a clear reason to explore your message further (by opening your email!). A/B testing subject lines will allow you to learn what your donors and supporters best respond to. For more information on subject lines that get results, take a look at this article.
- Create an Appealing Design: Your eNewsletter design should be clean and simple, easy to read, and above all consistent. Your email communications are an opportunity to build brand affinity, so they should be consistent with your organizations visual branding elements – for example, your logo, fonts, and colours. Along with boosting your brand identity, a consistent design will also ensure readers easily recognize your messages.
When designing your eNewsletter template, a key design consideration should be making your content is easily scannable. Audiences are increasingly reading emails from mobile devices, and on the go, so making sure your design and content is set up for easy scanning will ensure effectiveness. The use of bullet points, subheadings, whitespace, key call out buttons and relevant images will all work to sustain the attention of your audience and increase the chances they spend more time reading your messages.
There are many benefits to giving your blog the time and focus it deserves. Great content shared in eNewsletter’s and social media are cost-effective ways to reach your donors and supporters, and really engage with them on a deeper level. But as a non-profit organization you need to be efficient. When it comes to quality content, it can be time consuming to develop so it’s essential that you are maximizing the value and lifecycle of your hard work. Start with your blog, and allow that content to fuel your eNewsletter and social media channels.