To email or not to email, that is the question organizations are asking themselves more often. Do people really read marketing emails anymore? Or do they go straight into the virtual trash can? In this article, we discuss the continued value of email in all facets of your nonprofit today.
Email: An Untimely Death?
We do know that email is not dead. In fact, according to this article from zdnet email readership is up, especially among Millennials.
"It discovered that Millennials--consumers ages 18 to 34--spend the most time with email of any age group. 90 percent of them rely primarily on their smartphones to access their emails."
This group is far more likely to open a marketing email than to click on an ad on a social media page. While your social media pages are definitely the place to communicate on an individual level and create a community space, email is still a powerful marketing tool.
Engagement Matters to Deliver-ability
How your recipients engage with your emails is a major factor in future deliverability. For several years now, engagement data has become a prominent measure of deliverability at some of the major ISPs.
Big league email providers, such as Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, and Outlook, have made it clear that they analyze which emails their users open and click through to gauge whether emails from a particular sender are spam. If users are not opening and clicking certain emails, to the spam folder they eventually go.
Per many industry experts, mail providers and mail clients are going to have more sophisticated filters that measure user interactions with mail and preferences for content. This is why it’s so important to figure out how to tailor email content to the audience.
Yahoo! has acknowledged that as it more precisely analyzes user behavior to weed out spam, therefore some genuine senders might find themselves facing deliverability challenges. And, time will tell, but odds are that if a consumer always engages with emails from a particular sender, then Gmail will eventually move those emails from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab, just as they did with the older Priority Inbox. This is why engagement matters even for deliverability.
How to Resuscitate Your Efforts
So what do we do with this information? Like anything, we put it to work with a few ideas to help.
Make it Smart phone friendly. You may have heard this before, but a lot of people have neglected to follow this advice. So it bears repeating. If you put too many high-resolution images in your digital communications, it will take longer to load on a smart phone, leading to it being deleted before it even gets read. Some email programs send text in a format that will not adjust to the smaller screen to be read easily. Unless you have some very compelling content, your recipients will not take the time to wade through that message. Send test emails to a few smart phone users to find out what happens on different phones. Then switch your format until a variety of phones show the email in a readable manner.
Enrich your content. On its own, bad content won’t prevent your communications from being delivered, but if your content is boring or irrelevant, people won’t engage with it or, worse, will mark your emails as spam. People like to learn new things. Consider using your email to send a regular blog that teaches new skills, highlights interesting new things going on at your organization, or introduces your readers to employees and volunteers they may never get to meet. If you are selling a product, consider expanding the information about it. Don't just tell your readers your coffee maker makes coffee. They can see that. Give a full product review and offer a discount only available to email recipients.
Personalize your sales pitch. No matter how fantastic your association is, if you keep sending emails about it to someone who is not and never plans on becoming a member, they will stop opening your emails and eventually unsubscribe. Invest in a program that allows users to get emails based on interest.
Don't overshare. Be careful about how many emails you are sending. Flooding someone's inbox is a sure way to get an unsubscribe and have your email address blocked. Millennials may spend hours reading email, but they would like it to be concise. We live in a world where people are increasingly looking to communicate via short text message. Emails can be longer and include more details, but keep your audience in mind. If they can't read it in a few minutes or less, they probably won't get to the end.
Validation and Authentication. It's important to find a service provider and email software solution with features that ensure success too. A solution which provides one primary domain, a validation tool for checking all email addresses, & DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are some features to be sure to investigate. Further, feedback loops which alert you to bounces, rejected email (such as spam) and complaints are critical.
Keep Calm and Carry on with Email Marketing
Go ahead and compose your email. We promise that a good number of the people in your address book will take a look. If it's time to upgrade your ability to send effective emails, please contact us to help you get set up.