You did it. You broke through in the attention economy. By carefully crafting your newsletter subject line and meta description, giving more than you ask, and consistently leading with positive messaging, you’ve enticed a supporter to open your most recent newsletter.
The next challenge social impact leaders face is holding the reader’s interest in a world where attention spans are measured in a few seconds.
The eight tips below are designed to help right away and give readers reasons to open your next newsletter as well.
Social Impact Leaders are Well Positioned to Leverage This Channel
On average, adults encounter several hundred marketing messages every day. The good news is that your outreach efforts have several advantages that help you rise above the noise in your supporters’ overflowing inboxes:
You Promote Change. Rather than selling a product or promoting a consumer brand, you’re asking people to get involved in and to invest in creating a world that works better for more people.
You Inspire. Your work gives people a reprieve from today’s grim newscycle. Instead, you educate about your cause and show progress with uplifting stories, compelling data, and thought leadership from the heart.
You Provide a Sense of Belonging. Your newsletter helps supporters feel like they are part of a supportive community — an increasingly important value these days.
You Provide Opportunities to Make a Difference. Your supporters can drive change with a digital action center or through your informational website. You’re able to connect them to lawmakers, extend a chance to get involved in climate innovation, and mobilize them to accomplish change on a scale they can’t reach without you.
Why You Should Spend More Energy on Your Newsletter
Email is one of the best channels in your digital ecosystem. Your website gives supporters a customized experience but is just one of the three digital pillars every social impact organization needs.
In a world where social media ad rules change daily and everyone’s at the whim of algorithms, we recommend putting effort into channels you control. Email isn’t affected by algorithms. It’s a direct line with your supporters’ inboxes, doesn’t require ad spend, and when you use an email platform like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, you can customize your email to express your brand identity.
8 Ways to Enhance Your Email Newsletters
Make them sound human. Your organization should have a personality and voice. Imagine it as a person, and try to determine who ‘they’ sound like. Is your voice that of your Executive Director? Is your personality a mixture of your staff and board? Read your emails out loud. If they don’t sound close to something you would say face-to-face, it needs humanizing. Your supporters will be more inclined to open email from you again and again if they feel like they’re hearing from someone they know rather than a dispassionate brand demanding their attention.
Trim it. Then do it again. Chances are your emails are too long. If you try to stuff too many messages into one email, you might unintentionally compete with yourself.
Stick to one topic and action per email.
Determine the primary action for your supporters to take and drive them to that place in your digital hub.
If you have a lot going on, prioritize your messages and increase your cadence in sending out focused email. Dial back when things slow down.
For newsletters or a digest-style email, link to no more than 3-4 destinations.Think of your email like a funnel, where you direct your supporters’ attention to the places where it matters most. Keep in mind that you’re always competing to win in the attention economy. Your email gets one chance to grab and hold someone’s attention. When you get it, help yourself by not overwhelming them.
Make your email scannable. People are easily put off by a wall of text. Scannable content gets the basic gist across in under eight seconds (a typical online attention span) just by scrolling through the message.Some techniques to draw your reader through your email include:- Well thought out headlines- Content breaks- Short paragraphs- Bullet lists rather than long sentences- Images such as illustrations or photos- A video instead of a long explanation
Extend your brand into your newsletter. Using the tools on email platforms like Mailchimp or Constant Contact you can extend visual aspects of your brand into your email through the header, colors and fonts.The easiest way to extend your brand identity is through your email header. A simple way to do this is to include your logo over your primary color background. Be sure you stick to your brand colors throughout the message (i.e. hyperlinks or headers in brand colors), and match the fonts as close as possible to your website fonts.Most email platforms let you control these things. With the help of a creative agency, you can have a handful of branded templates at the ready that can be easily repurposed.
- Make your newsletter mobile-friendly. The majority of users open their emails on mobile. So make sure your message reads well on phones and tablets. Most email platforms give you the power to preview your message on a mobile device.
Make sure images and text fit on the screen
Keep headlines to a maximum of three lines
Minimize image heights so readers are more likely to see the text below them
Determine a regular cadence. In order to stay top of mind without annoying your supporters, we recommend a weekly cadence. If you think about your email outreach within the context of relationship building, a person is less likely to respond to a friend that only pops up every few months when they need something. Email marketing works the same way. Treat your supporters like valued friends and regularly keep them up to date rather than only reaching out when things are most urgent or scarce. Check your email platform analytics to determine the best send time and day for your list. From there, work backwards to determine a content strategy and execution plan with your team.
Use open loop writing. A reader engagement strategy to employ judiciously, an open loop is a story lead, question, or piece of information near the start of your newsletter that a reader needs to scroll down to satisfy. It’s a technique for keeping readers engaged beyond those eight seconds we mentioned earlier.
Get your supporters to take action. Now that email open rates are becoming unreliable as engagement metrics, it’s increasingly important to provide your supporters with actions they can take. Supporters actions help you learn which recipients are true partners in moving your mission forward and who needs to be trimmed from your list to keep it healthy. Be sure to give more than you ask, provide people with actions they can beyond donating, and drive them to your action center to move them up the engagement pyramid.
Any of the tips we discussed can help uplift a communications, fundraising, and engagement asset that you control. Free from ever-shifting algorithms, your newsletter can be elevated to become one of the most effective aspects of your digital strategy — if you give it a little more care.
Modern social impact leaders understand that just because email’s been around for a long time doesn’t mean that it’s okay for your organization’s newsletter to feel like a pre-information-era relic. It can be a dynamic, delightful, and engaging key component in your strategy to break through the noise in your supporters’ inbox.