Email is an integral part of any online outreach and fundraising plan, but what steps can you take online and off to grow your nonprofit email list?
Here are some tips to help you build a permission-based supporter list:
- Optimize your Website to Encourage Email Sign-Ups. The first thing you must do is offer supporters a compelling reason to hand over their email address. Sometimes offering a free newsletter just isn’t enough. Explain what information you will send them, and be sure you have a good content strategy in place before you do anything. Then you’ll need to optimize your website to make sign-up a breeze! Here’s how:
- Create a prominent “above-the-fold” email sign-up button on your website home page. Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll or navigate around to find it.
- Make sure your email sign-up box appears on every page of your site.
- Use a sign-up incentive such as informative white papers, FAQs or cheat sheets or even a monthly draw.
- Whenever anyone donates or registers for an event, tell them that they will automatically receive your email newsletter.
- Offer Flexible Sign-Up Options. Supporters will be more likely to sign-up for emails if they know what content they can expect. A simple way to do this is to segment your emails by giving supporters the options of receiving emails only on the topics they are interested in.
- Use Offline Events and Direct Mail Appeals to Gather Email Addresses. Don’t forget to solicit emails during meetings, events, presentations and so on. Ask for business cards, create a sign-in sheet and ask for email addresses at event registration desks. Don’t forget to ask for email addresses in your direct mail appeals.
- Use your Email to Boost Subscriptions. Don’t forget to use your email communications to drive nurture and grow your list:
- Send new subscribers a welcome email that introduces your organization, your cause and how they can get involved!
- Add social sharing features and “forward to a friend” options so that supporters can share your emails with friends.
- Use analytics to see what email content is working and what isn’t. Are folks unsubscribing? What are they responding to?
- Be sure to communicate with your subscribers regularly – twice a month ideally, once a month at a minimum. This keeps your list active, engaged and more likely to grow and support your goals.
- Use Facebook to Grow your Email List. Facebook is an important tool to build and grow your supporter community, but it’s not the most reliable way to communicate your most important messages. So how can you use Facebook to grow your email list? Here are a few tricks of the trade:
- Use Page Apps - One way to convert Facebook fans to email subscribers is to use page apps (formerly tabs) to highlight campaigns, initiatives, newsletter sign-ups, or add call-to-actions such as: “Take Action” / “Join Us” / “Donate Today” and so on. You can see an example of these page apps at work on these nonprofit pages underneath the main page cover photo: Survival International and Mercy Housing. (Note: You have to convert to the new Facebook fan page format to add these). You can find examples of page apps from Facebook here.
- Use Compelling Content to Tease Fans into Signing Up – Encourage fans to subscribe to your email list to get more information about videos, photos, and other updates posted to your Timeline that have a deeper story to tell.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Facebook fan page, this article from the Ad Council explains what it means for nonprofits.