4 Critical Components to Your Email Marketing Strategy

Tags: Best Practicesemailemail marketingfrank barrymarketingMarketingNon-profitsnonprofitsnptech

Posted July 27, 2011 by Frank Barry with 712 reads

I’ve been deep in the world of email marketing for the past few months.

It’s a form of communication (and full blown industry) that’s been around for a while. There are very well established best practices, standard metrics that are tracked, widely accepted and proven statistical data to measure your effectiveness by and countless bits of information on the web to teach us how to do email marketing and communication well.

Funny thing is though; a lot of us don’t listen (or get off track due to the need to drive results in the short term).

That said … here’s 4 parts to an effective email marketing strategy that will work in any industry.



The worst thing you can do is build a list that doesn’t have a clear purpose.

The best thing you can do before you begin capturing people’s emails is make sure you’ve clearly defined the purpose of the list your building.

Will it be for a regular newsletter about the work your doing to create a better world? Will it be to keep event participants up to date with ongoing event planning and fundraising efforts? Will it be for notifying supporters about a new petition you’d like to generate some support for?

We started an eNewsletter for event fundraisers. We specifically designed it to meet the needs of fundraising professionals who are looking for useful ideas, tips, resources and lessons learned from peers in the industry. It’s focused and we know exactly why we created it and why people would subscribe to it.

Figure out the answer to “why” (why are you creating this list) before you do anything else.

Once you’ve got that answer in place let it guide the rest of your decisions. Especially the ones you make related to the content you send to people, the frequency of your messages and the “asks” you make.


After you’ve determined what your list will be used for by answering the “why” question make sure you to keep a laser like focus on growing your list.

But grow it the right way.

Attracting the right people, the ones interested in the content you’re sharing, is the key to an effective email marketing program.

If you can get the right people subscribed to your email list then you’ll benefit from above average open, click through and conversion rates. Greater engagement from you list and, in the end, a better feeling on your part about the work you’re doing.

As you go about growing you list make sure you’re letting people know about it at every touch point – on your website, at your physical event, when people make a donation, as people are in your offices, in your year end appeals and any where else you interact with real people.

While you’re doing this try using a URL shortener like http://bit.ly to keep an eye on traffic to the sign up form.

This will help you determine the effectiveness of each channel. Here’s an example of clicks per day on a bit.ly we’re using to track things (more on that below).

You’d be amazed at how quickly you can build a solid list this way.

(I should note that I’m assuming you’ve got good content. If that’s not the case then it won’t matter how great your list is or how focused you are on growing it.)


As I mentioned above, you should let people know about your email list at every touch point.

But don’t simply let people know.

Track where they come from.

This way you’ll start to get an idea of where you’re attracting supporters who are interested in what you have to say. Doing this will allow you to see where your getting the biggest bang for your buck (or time). By determining where the best return on investment (ROI) comes from you can then focus your energy.

And focusing your energy in the right area opens up a world of other possibilities like the ability to experiment with other channels, new technology, etc. because you’ll still be getting the results you’re looking for.

Here’s a simple example of how you should be tracking things. It show’s the various places we’re attracting subscribers to our event fundraisers eNewsletter:



As you’re list grows you’ll want to keep an eye on your interactions with people on your list.

Treat them well.

They decided to let you into their inbox so make sure to respect that by only messaging them when you said you would with the type of content that you promised them you’d deliver.

If you attracted them by promoting a monthly newsletter that would include content about local issues in their community then make sure you stick to that contract by only messaging them monthly with content that’s on topic.

Not doing this is the fastest way to destroy your list.

Doing it is the best way to keep your list alive and growing because you’ll end up with a lot of happy individuals who will eventually tell their personal networks.

And that’s the Holy Grail.

Ok, those are some of the keys to the effective email marketing, but there’s a lot more to it. What else would you add to the list?

Post by Frank Barry. @franswaa on Twitter.



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