This week I am pleased to introduce you to Naomi Hamilton. Based in Australia, Naomi is the Digital Marketing Consultant for Blackbaud Pacific. This was originally published on the NetWitsThinkTank blog, where she’s a regular contributor. And you can follow her on Twitter at Fairynomo

By Naomi Hamilton

How often do you send out bulk email communications? Once a day? Twice a day? Three times a week? Every three months?

The frequency of your email blasts has a huge impact on the success of your email program. Send too frequently and you risk fatiguing your subscribers, making them reach for the ‘report as spam’ or ‘unsubscribe’ button. Send too infrequently, however, and your subscribers will forget who you are and are likely to delete your message as soon as it arrives in their inbox.

Sending too much

Email is a fantastic communication strategy as it can be very cheap, quick to put together and easy to send out. This can also work against it however, as too often email gets sent out at the last minute. Various stakeholders will decide that they need it to help get event attendees, to improve an appeal’s performance, or to gain more volunteers for an upcoming activity. This often results in 2 to 3, if not more, emails being sent to supporters each week. The nature of these last minute requests also means that there is little time for targeting or segmenting, so these tend to go out to entire email databases with very vague messaging and no personalisation.

Ideally, you should be aiming to email your supporters no more than once a week and no less than once a month. This means that you won’t annoy them by sending too frequently, and ensures that you and your cause stay in the minds of your supporters by keeping in contact regularly.

Create a communications calendar. Consider doing it in a program such as Google Calendar, which can be updated and accessed by any employees who will be sending emails out. Ensure that no supporter of yours receives any email communications from your organisation more than once a week. Segment and target your emails to ensure that every email you send does not go to every supporter in your database, and that you get good results by keeping communications personalised and relevant.

Consider making one person the ‘gatekeeper’ of your email list(s). They should get final say of what goes out and when, and their first priority should be preserving the health of your email list.

Finally, aim to send out three ‘engagement’ messages to every one direct ask or appeal. If you hit your supporters with an ask every time they open your email, or see your message in their inbox, it’s likely that they will ignore you!

Sending too little

Create and stick to a plan to send more communications, more frequently. It really is this simple!

Sit down and plan out which emails will go when, and aim to get an email out to each of your subscribers at least once a month to keep them up-to-date with your work. A newsletter is the simplest way to start. Thanking your subscribers for their contributions/updating them on your latest successes and projects are also legitimate email topics all on their own.

Don’t be afraid to get creative, but beware of becoming too excited too quickly and of beginning to send too frequently!

The bottom line

If you do your best to stick to these general guidelines, you should find your organisation getting some good results from your email marketing program.

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