‘Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity’. This is a quote attributed to H. Jackson Brown Jnr, a New York Times best seller. When it comes to your nonprofit organization, not building a mailing list is a huge mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars in the long run.
If you have not yet started building an email list, you might be asking yourself, ‘Why would I ever need an email list?’ After all, the last thing that you want to do is to add more unnecessary work to your already bustling schedule.
This is an understandable line of thought, especially if you still do not know anything about email marketing.
What if I told you that having a mailing list will help you increase your donor retention rates and drive up the donations that you are already getting?
In 2014, donor retention rates averaged 43%. That means that more than half the donors who gave money in 2013, decided not to give money again. Given that it costs 6 to 7 times more to get a new donor than to retain the ones you already have, you want to make sure that you retain as many donors as possible.
One way to keep donors is by educating them more about what you do. You also need to keep them engaged about what is going on in your organization. Engaged donors are willing to give more of their time and resources to your organization.
One of the best ways to engage donors is by sending them regular updates about what your organization is doing through your newsletter.
But before I talk about why you should build your email list, it will be best if I first defined what I mean by building a mailing list.
Building an email list simply means getting people to subscribe to your newsletter. Once people opt in to join your list, they will receive your newsletter anytime you send out one. I will discuss more on the practicalities of doing this on my next post.
In this post, I want to focus more on why it is important for your nonprofit to have a mailing list.
2. 98 % of people who visit your website for the first time are never going to visit it again. Even if they are interested in your website and they value the information that you provide and they intend to come back. Despite their best intentions they won’t come back.
They are likely to forget to come back. They have too many distractions in life pulling at their attention. That is why you should try and capture as many people as you can when they first land on your website. The best way to capture them is by getting them to opt in to your mailing list.
Once you have their email address, you can get them to come back again and again to your website. All you need to do is to email them and include a link to your site and they will follow it back to your site.
4. Most people are open to receiving promotional offers through emails. In 2012, Exact Target did a study. They found out that 77% of the people surveyed preferred to receive permission based promotions through email.
Only 4% of the people surveyed stated that they will be open to receiving promotional offers through Facebook. Only 1% were open to getting such promotions through Twitter.
So, when someone opts into your mailing list, they are practically telling you that they are open to you promoting stuff to them. Take advantage of that opportunity to try and get more donors.
6. Email is quite personal. It gets right into someone’s inbox. That increases the chances of someone reading it, since it has been directly sent to them.
7. Email is targeted. That means that the people who you are reaching out to are not some random strangers. They are people who are already interested in your cause, so turning them into donors is much easier.
Having a targeted list will allow you to send more targeted messages to your users, so your content will resonate more with them.
8. Your own your own list – You have total control over your email list. You can use it anyway you want. This is unlike if you were to rely on other 3rd party platforms like Facebook.
3rd party platforms will control a lot of what you can do and how do it when talking to your subscribers. But with your email list, you can design your newsletter as you want and send as much information as you want without too many restrictions.
9. It’s private. The correspondence that you send out is between you and your recipients. This allows you to send confidential information, which you might not be so open to doing on a public platform.
Also, due to the privacy offered, donors can get in touch with you by replying to your messages. They can do this without fear that other people will be following their discussion.
10. You can test your emails and see which ones work best and which ones don’t. Most email marketing service providers have a feature that allows you to carry out A/B tests. That means sending 2 different emails at the same time and observing which one will perform well.
You can test things like the right time to send emails, subject lines, content, design etc.
11.Your email followers will be more engaged about what your organization is doing. They will be updated about what is going on in the organization.
This makes them feel more involved, thus, they are more likely to want to give you their resources. Donors who are not engaged at all and have no idea about what you are doing might be more reluctant to give.
12. It’s a simple way to stay in touch. Whenever you want to get in touch with your subscribers, all you have to do is to send them an email.
13. You will build a loyal following. Your subscribers will be loyal to your organization hence, more likely to want to give to it.
Email Marketing Vs. Social Media
If you already have a lot of social media followers, you might wonder whether it is still important for you to have an email list. Here is why you still need to use email even if you already have a large fan base on social media.
1. Email is constant, social media changes. Social media is quite dynamic and it keeps on changing.
For instance, consider the old platforms that existed before and the new platforms that keep coming up. First, there was MySpace, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and Vine. Keeping up with all these new platforms as they emerge can be quite exhausting and confusing.
Besides, these platforms keep changing their algorithms and what might have worked before will no longer work in the present.
Right now, if you want your fans to see your posts, you have to pay to get your posts promoted.
Email Marketing Vs. Blog Post Subscriptions
If you have an active blog, you may have activated blog subscriptions. That is, people who have subscribed to your blog will get an email notification whenever you post something on your blog.
While this is a great way to keep people coming back to your site, it does not mean that you do not need a newsletter. Here is why having a newsletter is much better than automatic blog subscriptions.
1. With blog subscriptions, to send messages to your readers, you have to write a blog post. That is the only way to reach them. If you don’t want to write a blog post, then there is no other way of reaching your audience, which leads us to our 2nd point.
2. You can’t share private information with your followers. To reach your followers, you have to post on your blog. This is a public forum, where everyone will read what you have written. This restricts you from sending out any confidential information that you may only want your followers to get.
4. No reporting and analytics – There is no way of tracking who received your blog notifications and who didn’t. There is also no way for you to test what works and what doesn’t work. This will make it hard for you to improve the messages that you sent out to your readers.
Building an email list is like building your own gold mine. That is why you should get started on doing it right now. The best part is that it is quite easy to do.
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What are some of the things you would want to know about how to build an email list?