Email Marketing Automation vs. a Mailing List

You might have set yourself up with an email mailing list. Your visitors and supporters can sign up and now you have a fast, easy, and effective way to bulk contact them. But are you taking your email capabilities as far as they can go? Do you know the difference between true email marketing automation and a mailing list?

What’s a mailing list?

Some popular email platforms you might have heard of are Constant Contact or MailChimp. They allow users to quickly and easily sign up to be a recipient of your outbound emails. Users can even sometimes progressively add to their profiles over time. That may give you access to names, physical addresses, and things like topics of interest. Users can also easily opt out of receiving future emails at any time.

Once you’ve got a decently large mailing list, you can reach the masses with the click of a button. If you rely solely on social media posts, ever changing algorithms interfere with your reach. If you try to use paid advertising to expand, you can find yourself with big bills and not much to show for it. But email is a guaranteed direct line to your self-identified engaged audience. There’s a reason that spam email is so prevalent even to this day – email works!

How is Marketing Automation different?

Even with all of that, you may not be utilizing your email lists to their full potential. For that you need marketing automation. First, check out How to get started with email marketing and Maintaining an email marketing editorial calendar.

Marketing automation segments your audience into far more different groups than you can manually manipulate. You can use metadata to build audience lists on the fly and send different emails to each different type of recipient. That’s the main idea – it’s not just one email sent to every list member at the same time. Different emails to different users at different times will maximize the impact of your email list. Here are some examples:

  • Send a series of welcome emails after a new user signs up to receive emails from your organization. The first one should arrive immediately and the others can be spaced out after that.
  • Remind users who have visited your website but not made a donation yet that your fundraising campaign is still active.
  • Thank users who have donated in the past 30 days and promote your recurring donation options.
  • Send 5 emails in a chain of spotlights on your most successful programs, but only send each one one week after the previous email has been opened and read.
  • Send a customized birthday or service anniversary to each individual recipient. If integrated to your Volunteer Management software, milestone volunteer hours can be celebrated with no interaction from you.
  • Re-engage users if they haven’t opened an email or visited your site or volunteered in person for over 6 months. Everyone gets busy and the occasional reminder can be really effective.

With some preparation and a little technical know-how, you can get even more out of your valuable list of emails with less effort than manual email campaigns!

Creating an Email Marketing Editorial Calendar

People frequently ask, “How often should I email my subscribers.” The simple answer would be somewhere between weekly and monthly. That depends on your audience and goals. The more involved answer would be to create an email marketing editorial calendar and then stick to it.

What is an Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is a plan months in advance of when certain emails will go out and what topics they will cover. Instead of trying to come up with new topics on a monthly basis, the next 6-12 months should always be prepared and scheduled.

For any particular event, use the date as a base. Then count backwards and mark special milestones. You can send:

  • a first event notice 3 months prior
  • a reminder 3 weeks before
  • a follow up 3 days prior
  • and a follow up 3 days after.

Without planning ahead you might find yourself struggling to send out emails with enough advanced notice. Plan additional marketing, like a Facebook campaign, with enough lead time. It takes time for optimization to reach your audience.

It’s definitely an investment of time up front, but it will pay off dividends over the course of the year, and with recurring annual events, for years to come!

Email Marketing for Nonprofits – Getting Started

There is one reason email marketing is still big business to this day – it works! With everything else you need to juggle for your nonprofit – web, social, mailers, events, fund raisers – it can seem like just another task to keep track of. But with a little thought, it can be an important addition to your digital marketing strategy. Here are some tips on getting started.

Think about your goals

Don’t send email just to send email. That’s a good way to waste energy and lose subscribers. Instead map out what you’d like to get from your email campaigns. Do you want people to follow your social media channels? Maybe sign up to volunteer at upcoming events? Or donate to your cause? Knowing why you’re sending emails in the first place will allow you to judge the effectiveness of your campaigns and gauge how much effort you can allot to them.

Choose a platform, consolidate your address book, and build your list

It can be enticing to go overboard with email personalization. Thinking you need a different email platform or different email list for each and every message will leave you with a fractured and unmanageable scope. Instead, choose a single platform, manually add any email addresses you already have laying around, and then drive everyone to sign up to a single list. You can allow users to manage their own subscription settings and opt out of certain message types, but don’t try to do this by having different lists for each audience to sign up for.

Drive people to subscribe every chance you get

Without being overbearing, make sure your audience knows you have a mailing list. Drive them to sign up on your website, maybe even on a screen take over. Add it to your email footer for personal correspondence. Make sure your social channels are integrated. It should be easier to find your email sign up than not. Make sure they know you want them to sign up.

Build a campaign with purpose, call to action, and tracking

When it’s time to send an email, pause, define the campaign goals, develop clear calls to action, and be sure you are tracking the outcome of those actions. Use images to make it on brand and visually appealing. This will increase engagement from your audience. Also, send a test email and verify it looks like you expect it to on webmail, email clients, and mobile.

Nurture your base

Set up an editorial calendar so every email campaign isn’t a one-off. If every email you send is asking for money people may grow weary and unsubscribe. If instead, every fourth email asks for money interspersed between success stories, heartfelt tales from the community, and funny pictures from your last event, people are less likely to unsubscribe. On that note, make it easy for them if they do wish to unsubscribe, but give them options first to receive less email, or only certain emails. By nurturing your audience, you’ll get a higher open rate, higher engagement rate, and more impact from the emails with calls to action.

When done right, email marketing is not a separate activity, but just another avenue to spread your message to your target audience. If you need help setting up your first email campaign, or need to get your existing efforts aligned, contact us today!

GSuite Gmail on your domain

Adding GSuite Gmail to your domain

Once you’ve purchased a domain to represent your brand, organization, or small business, you’re going to want to associate an email service with it. One of the big benefits of owning your own domain is that you appear more professional by not emailing customers from an address “@gmail.com.” There are many ways to accomplish this, most hosting services or domain providers will try to sell you theirs, but for simplicity, ease of use, and familiarity, nothing beats Gmail.

But how do you get a Gmail address without it being @gmail.com?

Good news: it’s easy! It’s called GSuite from Google and creating your first email address takes only minutes. Check out the pricing and plans available at https://gsuite.google.com/. Pricing is basically $5 per month per user. However, you typically don’t need to start with too many users. You can create a single user with multiple aliases for things like “info,” “sales,” or “support.”

Once you’ve signed up for the service, you need to verify ownership of your domain. This will be done by uploading a text record (TXT) to your DNS server. Whichever domain registration service you used will have an option to add records to your DNS. Google will give you the exact text to paste in, and then will be able to verify your ownership. After that, they’ll give you another record to upload called a mail exchanger record (MX). Again, it’s a cut and paste from Google and within minutes your email is up and working.

You can associate multiple Google accounts on a single mobile device, switching seamlessly between them on your Gmail mobile app. GSuite also comes with a host of other benefits like file storage/sharing, contacts, and calendars that can be shared across users. As your business or organization grows, you can add new users ad hoc.

Even though the process is simple, it can be intimidating if you’ve never worked with DNS before. Contact us to help you get your email up and running so you can connect with new contacts in a professional and polished manner, through your very own branded email account!