Best Practices for Email Marketing

emailBy Jen Lieberman

[Written with synagogues in mind, but applicable for all.]

Email marketing is a fantastic way to share information and engage with your members. However, your audience’s inboxes are already stuffed with dozens of emails a day. Your messages are packed with exciting news and important announcements, but getting people to open them can be a challenge. Here are some tips to ensure that your emails get the attention they deserve:

(1) Understand and segment your audience. Your members are unique individuals with different needs and interests. A one-size-fits-all email approach simply doesn’t work. Take the time to break down or segment your mailing list into smaller groups of like-minded members. Create an email list just for your early childhood families, empty nesters, religious school families and more. Membership management databases (like a CRM) make this task even easier.

(2) Use engaging subject lines. An email’s success depends on the quality of its title. Don’t blow your only chance to get your readers to open your email with a boring title. Short and direct statements or enticing questions are the way to go. Instead of a standard “Summer News and Events at Temple Shalom” try something more exciting like “See why this summer will be the best ever at Temple Shalom.”

(3) Use a branded design. Consider your emails to be an extension of your online brand; they should be unified with the look and feel of your website. Incorporate your logo into all email mastheads and use similar fonts and colors to those on your website. Include photos and other images to strengthen the bridge between your organization’s online presence and community.

(4) Keep content short and sweet. Resist the urge to cram every last bit of information about an upcoming event into one email. When promoting events, always include basic information like the date, time, and place and contact info. Always provide a link to your website or Facebook page where your community can learn more, get involved, and register.

(5) Be mindful of the length of your email. This is perhaps the most challenging tip. With so many upcoming events and news topics, it’s easy for the length of your emails to rapidly exceed your reader’s attention. If your audience has to scroll down the screen a lot to read your entire email, chances are only the top and bottom parts of your email will be read. Much of your middle content runs the risk of being ignored. List segmentation and short content can help reduce the overall length of an email. Also, perhaps consider to share only events that will take place over the next two months.

(6) Test your email. Your email may look good on your desktop computer, but how does it appear on your iPhone? What about an Android? You may be surprised to see how different an email can appear when viewing it on another device. Don’t make yourself crazy, but it’s a good idea to test your email on a bunch of different devices before sending. And, while you are at it, make sure all of your links work and take readers to the correct place.

(7) Measure your results. Yay! Your email has been successfully sent out. Now what? It’s time to study the results, of course. If you are using an email service provider like Constant Contact or MailChimp, you have the ability to review and analyze the results. A good CRM will also have the ability to track this data. Take advantage of these tools to learn about what’s working and what needs improvement. Learn about the open rate click through rate, and unsubscribe rate. Take this information, reflect on the content and then use it to improve.

Jen Lieberman is Client Development Manager at Jvillage Network.