How do you send emails to supporters and others who want to hear from you?
• An email marketing tool built with nonprofits in mind?
• Microsoft Outlook or Gmail?
• Carrier pigeons?
If you answered anything but the first in that list, we're here to sound the "bad idea" alarm. (We won't get into why carrier pigeons are a poor decision . . . Let's just say their delivery time isn't up to snuff and clean-up is a nightmare. And honestly, doing email marketing from your desktop email program isn’t much better.)
Many nonprofit organizations get started with email marketing by sending out e-newsletters via Outlook or Google's Gmail. But beware: there are rules, caveats and landmines awaiting the nonprofit using Outlook or Gmail for email outreach.
While Outlook and its many cousins are fine for 1-to-1 email, they weren't designed for sending email newsletters or fundraising appeals to groups of people. To do this effectively, you need an Email Service Provider.
There's a Better Way
Email Service Providers (ESP) are companies that specialize in delivering your email to your mailing list for you. You create the message and you control your mailing list, but all of that data is stored on their computers and your messages are sent out through their mail servers. You login to your account on their website to create your messages, manage your mailing list, send your messages, and track what happens after the message goes out.
Benefits of ESP
An Email Service Provider built for nonprofits can do the following:
• Create sign-up forms for your website. Your website needs a way for new supporters to sign up directly for your mailing list.
• Manage bounces, unsubscribes, etc. People change their email addresses all the time and change their minds about which lists they want to be on. Using an ESP automates the process of managing the individual records on your mailing list. Readers can unsubscribe themselves instead of you doing it by hand, and they can often update their email addresses all by themselves too. When you send a message to an email address that is no longer active, the ESP will remove that record from your list for you.
• Analyze the results. Your ESP will give you statistics about your email campaigns that you could never create on your own. Data like who is opening your email and what links they are clicking on can help you create even better, more relevant content for your subscribers next time.
• Help you comply with the spam laws. Nonprofits must comply with the federal CAN-SPAM law and your ESP will help you do that by automatically including “unsubscribe” links and your physical mailing address in the messages you send.
Some popular ESP companies are EmailNow, Vertical Response, Benchmark Email, Get Response, and AWeber.
taken with permission from, The Nonprofit Email Marketing Guide: 7 Steps to Better Email Fundraising & Communications.Written by Kivi Leroux Miller of NonprofitMarketingGuide.com. .