ServeNext.org Blog

How Should Organizations Change Their Members’ E-mails?

Posted by hlaverty on December 17, 2009

When I was younger, I remember my parents received paper newsletters by different organizations, in the mail, delivered into the mailbox. I remember pages full of information about an upcoming event, a previous event, pictures, articles and so on.

However, today we (including myself) receive newsletters as e-mails, for the most part. But with so many e-mails and the short attention span I have, it’s hard for me to go through all the information in that one e-mail. Especially if that e-mail has a lot of information. Those e-mails eventually go unopened and unread while contributing to the decline in opened e-mails.

That’s what George Weiner’s article, “R.I.P. E-mail Newsletters:7 Ways to Pump Adrenaline Into Your List” talks about as he addresses ways organizations can help their e-mail newsletters avoid being unopened e-mails.

Weiner’s first suggestion, personalize those e-mails. Collect information about each of your subscribers. I know I am more apt to read Dear Heather, then have there be nothing. Idealist.org does this and I read those.

He also suggests orgs spend more time on the subject line. Use a statistic or even the person’s name. Also, add some personality to the “from” address. Scope out Web sites, especially magazine sites.

While I’m talking about subject lines, he suggests creating two different subject lines and testing them on a small percentage of your org’s list. The subject line that receives the highest open rate, you guessed it, wins. Then, use it.

Another suggestion from Weiner is something I personally would like to see more of, personalized content in e-mails. A long-time member doesn’t need information directed towards new members.

Collect as much data as you can about those members, as well. Weiner advices orgs to have sign up sheets at events and send e-mails the next day with information about the event from the day before.

The sixth suggestion, allow the people that manage small member groups to message them directly, says Weiner. Don’t make them seek out approval before hand, it wastes time and resources. Mostly likely, your org has smart people capable of doing this with no problems.

Lastly,timing. Send newsletters on a regular basis. He thinks mornings are better because the member gets it right when he/she is at work. Which makes sense because most people I know check their e-mails in the morning, including myself.

This a great example of a really simple, readable, personalized e-mail from Share Our Strength.

See, it can be done and still get the message across.

What other things should or shouldn’t organizations do to their e-mail newsletters?

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