We’ve talked about how email opens aren’t really enough anymore (they never really were, but now it’s even more true).
The real metric you want to improve is your email engagement. Our favorite way to calculate email engagement is the percentage of your email list that has opened at least one email from you in a given amount of time, such as the last three months. From there you can get more specific, with more highly engaged folks opening 3 or 5 or 10 emails in the last three months (you decide the criteria). The bottom line is what percentage of your list is still actively engaging with your emails, versus the percentage that has ignored them entirely?
Once you know that number, how do you go about increasing engagement? Here are my top three tips.
1. Be Clear Humans Are Sending It
The more conversational, personal, and friendly your emails are, the better. Do we know the people writing them? If it’s a newsletter, do you at least talk about and name people in the content? Do you ask people to reply and use a reply address that someone actually reads and responds to? Nobody wants a relationship with (and email from) a faceless 501(c)(3). Put some personality in there!
2. Share News People Can Use
Too many nonprofit emails go on and on about their own needs and stuff that frankly, most people on the list don’t really care about because it really has nothing to do with them. You have to put your work and the way you talk about it in a context that the people on your email list can understand. Why should they care about what you are saying in the email? If you don’t know, then WHY ARE YOU PUTTING IT IN THE EMAIL? Remember, this should feel like a human-to-human interaction. If you wouldn’t talk about the thing with someone in person, why are putting it in your emails and into their inbox?
3. Be More Timely
I know some of you are still emailing your list maybe once a month or even less. How can you possibly be saying anything timely at that frequency? I’m not saying email every day, but there has to be a happy place somewhere between daily and monthly that works for you and for the people on your list. It’s so much better to email weekly or even every other with the lastest news that is relevant for the coming week or two than to cram everything for the next 4-6 weeks in one email.
This advice may seem familiar: I call it PUT, as in “what you should PUT in your emails.” Put in content that feels Personal, Useful, and Timely. That’s how you increase your email engagement.