How often should nonprofits send email to their subscribers?
This question gets hotly debated, but the simple truth is that most nonprofits are not sending enough email messages.
They’re worried that they’ll annoy their readers.
They’re worried that they’ll drive people to unsubscribe from their list.
But what they should be more worried about is driving people to unsubscribe from their list because they do not email often enough.
This is a real problem. Maybe even the biggest problem I see with nonprofit email marketing.
I explain this in depth in my interview on the Driving Participation podcast.
You should give it a listen if you want to learn more about how not sending enough email results in lost subscribers.
Below I’ll lay out exactly how often nonprofits should send email to their subscribers.
How do you know if your organization is guilty of not sending enough email?
Before I give you a more direct answer, let’s first look at how often nonprofits are sending email newsletters to their list.
According to this 2016 Communications Trends report, 41% of nonprofits send email newsletters less often than once per month. This means they send somewhere between 0 – 11 emails per year.
Another 41% of nonprofits are sending email newsletters on a monthly basis or 12 email newsletters a year.
Chances are your nonprofit falls into one of these two categories. If you do, then you are not emailing your list often enough.
That’s right. 82% of nonprofit organizations do not send enough email to their audience.
So how often should you send email?
There are two primary considerations when determining how often you should send email to your list.
- The amount of quality content you can create
- The level of attention you have from your audience
First, you need to know how much quality content you have to offer your readers.
Never email your readers if you don’t have quality content to share.
This is a violation of their trust and if done too often, will cause people to unsubscribe. Why should they stay on your list if you never provide anything valuable to them?
The second consideration is the level of attention you have from your audience.
What do I mean by this?
Well, the more engaged your readers are, the more interested in what you have to say, the more often you can and should email them.
For example, when people first sign up for your newsletter you have their full attention. They just told you that they are interested in hearing from you.
Now is a great time to send them a series of emails. But, if you don’t communicate with them right away, if they subscribe to your list but then don’t hear from you for weeks, you’ve lost their attention.
This is why you need an introduction autoresponder for your email list.
And since you know you have their attention, you can email them quite a bit more often than you think, as long as the content offers value to them.
For example, I have worked with nonprofits that have quite a bit of success sending their new subscribers one email a day for 5 days in a row.
Now, you probably can’t create enough quality content to email them every day of the year, nor do you need to, but when you have their attention you should email them more often.
Another reason to send a multiple email introduction is to set the stage for how you would like to communicate with them.
You want them to know that from time to time you will email them 3- 5 days in a row. As long as you are providing quality content that adds value to the reader then they will be more than happy to receive these emails from you.
In fact, when done really well, they look forward to receiving these emails from you.
Use email to build the relationship
After the initial email introduction series it’s fine to slow down a bit (at least until your next campaign drive), but you still need to maintain a regular email schedule.
You want to make sure your organization is continuously strengthening the relationship with your audience and building engagement momentum when you need it.
To do this, you need to continue to tell great stories about your organization.
Who are your heroes? What is your impact? How can they get involved?
These emails do not need to be long. In fact, it is better if they are kept short. Do not demand too much of your readers time but continue to engage them with great stories.
So how often do you need to email them to achieve these ends?
You should aim to send an email once a week at a minimum.
But don’t freak out! These are not your typical nonprofit email newsletter bombs.
I’m talking about short and sweet emails that start or continue a story that you’ve been telling them over time.
The goal of these emails is to continue to remind your subscribers of the good work you do and the people still in need of their support.
You also want to continue to develop and strengthen their emotional connection to your work.
The typical approach nonprofits take to email marketing is to consolidate multiple stories into one email newsletter.
But there is a better way, and it makes sending email more often much easier to do.
Sign up to my email list if you want to learn more about how to write these types of emails.
I’ve also seen nonprofits have great success with sending an email every 3 or 4 days.
But again, the quality of your content matters. Do not hold yourself to a strict twice a week schedule if you are unable to ensure every email you send meets your quality standard.
However, if you are able to email more often and consistently, and if you are telling engaging stories, then you’ll see your open rates and click-through rates climb.
Now you are on your way to a powerfully effective email marketing strategy.
- 82% of nonprofits do not send enough email
- The amount of quality content you create is an important factor in how often you should send email
- You can send email more often when you know you have the readers’ attention
- You need to maintain a regular email schedule in order to continuously strengthening the relationship with your audience.
Keep doing good work,