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Please Listen To All of the Following Options…

November 9th, 2011

While technology has made many aspects of our lives easier, one only need hear a voice mail menu to know it isn’t always beneficial.  Forcing someone to listen to endless recorded options truly renders customer service a contradiction in terms.

Many email marketing strategies are set up in a similar fashion as well:  Rather than considering what is best and most efficient for the customer, the company constructs all parameters from its perspective, putting much more work on the shoulders of the customer.  (“…if you want to speak to someone directly, wait on the line…”)

To begin with, care must be taken not only with the subject line, but also with the sender name.  Some nonprofits still opt for using strictly an organizational name, while others choose to add a more personal touch and include an individual’s name along with the organization.  Being generic is less advisable if you want to get your email opened.

Upon further investigation, however, we see that the “name” attached to an email may not reflect the true identity found in the actual email address.  If someone reading the message chose to hit the [Reply] button, often times, they find themselves relegated to a generic mailing list or information box.  Too often these days, one is even incapable of replying to the communication sent, since embedded in the address itself is some form of the text, “do-not-reply.”

In today’s world of social media where two-way communication is the expected norm, addressing an email from a “do not reply” sender is tantamount to saying, “If you have something to tell me, I really don’t care . . . It’s my way or the highway.”

Adding photos to your email is a nice touch, but consider how your message will be viewed by screens that can’t see pictures, or otherwise block images.  Also keep in mind that various screens are looking at your email.  How does it look in a preview pane?  On a pad?  On a handheld?  Be sure you test several versions, and have text embedded behind your photos.

In addition to making emails more inviting to open and reply to, other mechanics that many nonprofits often fail to consider is updating a subscription.  It’s shortsighted to offer only the option of unsubscribing to the organization’s email.

Tiffany* had been subscribing to various trade publications at her office, but they got to be too many and interfered with her ability to see her work emails in a timely fashion.  She decided to create a separate email account, designated just for these subscriptions and move them over to that.

What she discovered was that it was very difficult, in most cases, to change her email subscriptions.  In most cases, they didn’t offer an update option – only unsubscribe.  If she wanted to receive all of the same publications in her new email account, she’d have to unsubscribe from each of them, then open a web browser, find the company, and subscribe all over again with the new email account . . . very often entering her name, company, etc. information as well!

This affected how many subscriptions Tiffany actually retained, and she dropped nearly half of them, keeping only the ones that she deemed were worth enduring the laborious process of resubscribing.  Had they simply given her a shorter process, incorporated within the current system, she most likely would have kept them all.

For your year-end email campaigns, when you take time to craft your message, consider the other components of the email as well.  The mechanics of how it is viewed – from beginning to end – help determine how well received it is, in addition to its content.

Everyone has a full email inbox these days, so the nonprofit that takes extra steps to tighten these loose ends will stand out in the crowd.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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