In 2012, the number of emails that businesses sent and received averaged 89 billion per day. This figure is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 13 percent over the next four years, reaching over 143 billion by 2016 (according to a study from radicati.com).
Whether you’re writing a simple thank-you email, sending out a newsletter or welcoming someone to your nonprofit community, using email is a quick, easy way to keep your supporters connected to your organization. But your email doesn’t mean much if it’s not read. These basic rules will ensure your organization will maintain a positive image and emails will get read by your audience.
• Make your email uniquely “you” so that it is immediately recognizable.
You are your brand and your brand is you. Be sure to maintain your organization’s branding and style. Try putting your organization’s name in the subject line and the logo at the top of the email. Keep consistent color themes that match your organization’s branding. Then finish your email with a memorable closing line. Use this as a template that you can easily reference for future use.
• Provide information your readers will value so they will look forward to receiving your emails.
Give thought to what you want to say and how you want to say it. Would you want to receive this message in your inbox?
• Create visually appealing messages.
Use a simple layout with short lines of text. Add breaks to a “river” of text with graphic elements or illustrations and use consistent font types throughout the text. Save the bolding and italics for headers and important information. Keep color to a minimum or keep it simple and consistent, so that your email looks professional. Use bullet points or numbering to summarize your main points. Also, use symmetrical columns to keep the information balanced to avoid content at the end being ignored.
• Emails should be easy to read with the most important information at the top.
Make the email easy to skim so your readers can get the key points quickly. If you’re sending a newsletter, consider including a table of contents to allow people to “click” and link straight to their main interest. Your readers will appreciate your efforts to give them what they need to know early in your message.
• Use an active voice with action words to engage your reader.
The way you write, conveys your brand and what you represent. Think positive! Avoid negative words unless they are integral to the construct of your message.
• If you want your reader to take action, make sure to ask.
People respond to questions that make them feel good. If you ask for help and your request is reasonable, people like to be a part of the solution.
By following these steps you stay above the fold, and that could make all the difference to your organization.
David Blyer is founder and CEO of Sunrise-based, DonorCommunity, a cloud computing software firm that helps nonprofit organizations to create awareness, cultivate donors, reach potential donors, increase efficiency and broaden awareness of their mission and goals online.