Tag: email marketing

In 2018, Bashpole Software, secured a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the marketing challenges and strategies of nonprofit organizations. We’ve sat down with over 300 nonprofit executives and are continuing to do so. As our study continues, we’re looking for deeper answers. As a service to our participants, we would offer a preliminary audit of your analytics and content by our specialists to provide direction and feedback. Email Ben Ashpole if you’re interested.

“We need to build a strategy, but we don’t know where to start.”

“How do we know if what we do is working?”

In the last year-and-a-half, more than 300 nonprofit executives and marketers sat down with us in one-on-one interviews and shared their marketing approaches and obstacles.

Their biggest pain points? How to reach people on the internet and how to know if they’re actually succeeding at it.

The dream is to grow. The question is, how?

When we believe in what we are doing, we definitely want to do as much as we can. Our respondents want to do good in this world and want to increase awareness of their causes.

  • 72% want to grow their organizations (growth goal)
  • 94% who prioritize growth believe digital advertising is critical to achieving the goal.
  • The full potential of using email newsletters, online ads, and social media is often beyond available resources and staff time — or it feels like it due to lack of knowledge or training.

What does a good strategy look like?

Blogs, social media, email lists, paid digital advertising, your website. They all have different purposes. How do you know which is the one to really go for? You want them to believe in your cause and trust you.

Every method you choose should work to get you to that goal. For most organizations, the end goal is to get people to subscribe to your email list. Every piece of your strategy should lead them to that point, whether it’s a Facebook Live, a Google Ad, a blog post, and especially your website.

Make your website work hard for you

In our research, we saw websites that worked hard to educate and build trust. We also saw websites that functioned as little more than a “Yellow Page Ad” for their organization. It proved that the organization existed, but didn’t do much else.
Your website can lead people on a journey and present your story. It also can add to that story through changing content like blogs, videos, or case studies that share your passion and showcase your work.

By the way, this also helps your Google rankings. Google doesn’t like websites that just sit there. Active sites rank higher on Google searches over time.

Get their email address

You might not get someone to volunteer or donate on their first online encounter with you. But they are aware of you. Now that you have their attention, you want to keep it.
They may have been introduced to you through an ad or a search, but you don’t want to trust Google or Facebook algorithms to maintain that connection. You don’t even want to trust them to remember to come back to your website.

If you have their email, you can reach out to them directly and tell them more about what your organization does. You can build trust. Occasionally, you can ask for what you need: a donation or volunteers. But the more your readers trust you, the more likely they are to partner with you.

What’s the work involved?

  1. If you want to increase awareness, go where they are using various methods such as ads, podcasts, guest blog posts.
  2. Ask for their email. Have your content drive them to your website and put forms on your website that encourages more contact.
  3. Once you have that precious email address, regularly send them information about what you’re doing. Keep them informed and excited.

When they agree to be on your email list, they care at least a little. You can use the email list to build that relationship and encourage them to care more.

Return on investment: how do we know it’s worth it?

“It is difficult to get meaningful metrics … for example, how do we measure the impact from each platform we use to decide where to focus?” — respondent

“Why didn’t [we] do more with Facebook? Lack of trust in the ROI, because we didn’t understand the measurement tool.” — respondent

Return on investment is a business term that is becoming prominent in nonprofit circles, too. It means, “What did we get out of this effort compared to what we put in?”

There’s a formula for computing it: ROI=(net profit/cost of investment) x 100.

So if you spent $1,000 on a Facebook ad campaign and received $1,500 in donations, your net profit is $500. ($500/$1,000) x 100= 50%

ROI can’t formulate the intangibles

Sitting down with nonprofit C-level executives, we not only heard the answers they gave, but we could hear the tone in their voices and see the expressions on their faces. They looked puzzled when they talked about online marketing — even troubled. They knew that it was important, but they had no idea how to know if it was working and if they were doing it right.

When they described getting out there and talking with people at speaking events, their eyes shone. They knew immediately when that worked. Just like we could see our respondents’ faces, they could read the responses in the faces of others. They could shake their hands. They could hear them give their support.

Metrics make the intangible tangible

The hard part about doing things online is you don’t get those responses. What we have are metrics. We can know, “Does a person click on our ad?” and with pixels (small bits of code that are added to the website) we can follow exactly what they do after that:

  • What pages do they read?
  • Do they give us their email address?
  • How long do they stay?
  • Do they donate?

Metrics take the unknown and make them known. All of a sudden, you know what pages they read, you know how long they stay, you know if they take a look at your donation page, or if they walk in the door and walk right out.

What questions do you have about what they do? You can set up metrics to tell you.

How much is it worth to know?

Over and over again, our respondents told us that they didn’t know key pieces of information because they didn’t have the metrics set up. They don’t have the time to learn Google Analytics. They did Facebook boosts instead of full ad campaigns that provide a pixel. They only have a small glimmer of the full information they need.

Our respondents expressed, “We want to build a strategy, but we need to know if it works.” They also said they don’t have the manpower or the training to do it.

The fact is, the term “ROI” means Return of INVESTMENT, and without investment, there is no return.

For nonprofits, ROI isn’t always about money

The people we talked to said their top priority was building awareness. They know donations don’t come right away, but they want people to know about their cause. Without setting up analytics, you’re in the dark. That’s not an easy place to be for you or your team.

Whatever strategy you decide on, and there are many things you can do inexpensively, if you don’t have the analytics set up to measure it, you don’t know. You’re too committed to following it through to the end without tweaking, or you may not be committed enough even to start. You can’t compare whether a YouTube video works better than a blog post for leading someone to your website.

Setting up your analytics is the key to everything

If you’re a typical nonprofit, everyone on your team is doing multiple jobs to keep on top of the daily work. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Money is tight. The board doesn’t see why it’s important.

But whether it’s bringing on an intern, hiring an agency, or having one or more of your staff take an NTEN course or Udemy, getting your analytics worked out is the first step in developing a strategy for reaching Millennials, GenZ, and even good ole GenX.

Metrics shine the light on your potential partners

Knowing your metrics is like being able to look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and telling from their smile that they are on board or to gauge what may be holding them up. It makes the people who are online as real as the people who are in the room.

Metrics open up a whole world for you and your organization

Metrics let you know what’s working and what’s not before you’re at the point of no return. It not only turning the lights on for your potential partners, but it also turns the light on for you. You don’t have to be “all in or not at all” with a marketing campaign. You can test, monitor, and adjust, and even abandon if something isn’t working.
Metrics minimize your risk because they minimize your guesswork.

Before you move forward with anything else, invest in your analytics

We may be preaching to the choir here on NTEN, but in our research study, our respondents overwhelmingly expressed concern over how to create a solid strategy and how to know whether their efforts were effective. Every other business that is competing for the same space is already doing this. To be heard in this ever-increasing world of online advertising, our organizations must know whether their efforts are effective. It’s crucial.

There are big differences between nonprofit and for-profit perspectives

It was clear from our interviews that there are key differences between the nonprofit marketing sphere and the for-profit marketing sphere. You use a different vocabulary and have different goals.

Nonprofit goals: build awareness, recruit volunteers, and encourage donations.

And you need to know whether your efforts are going to reach these goals successfully. The widely-available marketing resources aren’t focused on those goals, so what do you do?

With these tips in mind, we’re extending an invitation for nonprofit professionals to participate in the ongoing research. Based upon the preview of the types of tips above, we would appreciate hearing from the NTEN readership what you would find to be most useful for the upcoming articles. Would you like to participate in an interview or learn more about the research project? Do you have any areas of interest you want us to focus on that you feel would most benefit the nonprofit sector? Vote on the upcoming topics!

Your nonprofit newsletter is one of the most powerful tools you have to convert donors. However, converting donors isn’t only about making your fundraisers seen. It’s more important to use your email marketing for effective storytelling.

Donors love to see the impact their donations have. They want to feel re-inspired to give and reminded of why they love your cause. Your nonprofit newsletter needs to include elements of storytelling alongside other engaging content. Otherwise, you will find yourself asking for money too often and wearing your donors out.

Here are seven emails built to engage your supporters without over-asking. Each of them is designed to help you build relationships, gather more support, and show off your impact in the world.

1. Thank You Emails

The most obvious email you should always send to your donors is “Thank You.” Don’t automate a donation receipt and move on. Make sure your donors are thanked genuinely for their contribution.

Then, ask them to sign up for your newsletter so you can engage them all year long. Or, you can ask them to subscribe when they give by building an email opt-in option into your forms. Either way, make sure your donors feel appreciated and have options to stay connected after they give.

2. Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are different from the “Thank You” email sent right after a donation. This comes after someone opts-in to your email marketing newsletter. It has information on what kind of content you send out to your subscribers, how to support the cause by sharing your content, etc.

You should also have a subscription sign-up available on your website. People generally interested in your mission and the content you publish will sign up and become donor leads. Content marketing is an important strategy for nonprofits to embrace. It helps build your email list and your email list also drives traffic to your website in return.

The people interested in your content are good leads to convert to donors. You just need to nurture them with emails they’re interested in before you ask for donations.

3. Impact Stories

Of course, don’t forget the most important part of your newsletter: storytelling. It’s your job to show your organization’s work and how it’s made an impact. Donors especially want to see what impact they had. You did the work, but they feel pride. Help them feel the joy of giving by telling the story of how their money has helped you fulfill your mission.

You can write out the entire story, send them back to your blog to read the whole thing, or even a mix of both. When you send them back to your site, they’re greeted with more opportunities to explore your content and give.

4. Volunteer Stories

You should also include volunteer stories in your nonprofit newsletter. These are just as beneficial as impact stories. Your volunteers see things from a different perspective. Their point of view might inspire donors to become volunteers, give even more, or share the story.

Volunteer stories also serve as third-party validation or social proof. It gives your organization more credibility to share the experiences of those who volunteer to do the work.

5. Surveys

Surveys are wonderful tools to re-engage donors and keep up engagement during a slow season. You might find that you want to use a survey to see what kind of content your newsletter subscribers want to see. Some other survey question topics might include:

  • Have you seen the news? Find out if you need to educate your supporters on a news topic that has an effect on your mission in some way.
  • What’s your favorite? Ask your subscribers what their favorite volunteer or impact story is from your blog.
  • What’s the right stat? Quiz your donors and supporters on their knowledge of your cause. Do they know the right statistical data?

6. Factoid Updates

Send out statistics and facts. These can be short emails with one to two stats or a whole list of relevant research. How you design the email depends on your goals. Creating graphic-oriented emails helps encourage sharing on social media.

On the other hand, plain-text emails with more information may inspire more engagement and clicks-though. It depends on your audience and how they currently interact with your email content.

7. World News

Last, but not least, keep your supporters informed of relevant world and local news. Anything that affects your organization and mission or those who have benefitted from your services is worth sharing.

But Don’t Forget to Ask

Between the storytelling, transparency, and engagement emails, make sure you are still asking for donations. Ask regularly for general online donations and always segment your lists. If you have recurring donors, don’t keep asking them to sign up to donate. Instead, use segmentation to ensure they only get asks for larger fundraising campaigns.

Even when it comes to larger campaigns, like GivingTuesday for example, your emails should be framed toward each segment. Address your board and volunteers, past and recurring donors, and new supporters attracted by the campaign all differently. Segmenting is crucial for nonprofit fundraising emails.

Evaluate and Evolve Your Nonprofit Email Marketing Strategy

Take the time to evaluate your current email marketing strategy. Do you have enough mixed content or are you constantly asking for support? You might even find that you aren’t asking for support enough.

There are trees, and there is forest. There are anecdotes, and there is data. There are the pinprick pixels of our individual experiences, and there is the vast picture they paint together of the world we share.

The M+R Benchmarks Study is our annual attempt to bridge that divide. This year, we have collected an extensive array of data points from 154 nonprofit participants. Each of them marks a single digital interaction with a supporter: an email opened, a donation made, a petition signed, a website visited, an ad clicked, a Facebook post liked, or tweet retweeted. All told, these add up to 4,699,299,330 email messages, 527,754,635 web visits, and 11,958,385 donations.

NTEN is proud to partner with M+R once again for the latest Benchmarks report. Explore or download it here.


Digital marketing strategies come in all shapes and sizes. Even if you don’t have a fully baked strategy, you probably have all the ingredients you need. So let’s mix it up!

Remember who you’re baking for

A successful digital marketing strategy starts with an examination of the people you are trying to reach and convert. Who are they? What excites them? Where do they hang out? I am a big fan of developing personas, or shorthand descriptions of the key groups you need to reach, because I can test my ideas against an imaginary person: “How would Sam react to this?” Even if you’re lucky enough to have data-driven segmenting as the centerpiece of your marketing strategy, you are not off the hook. You need to know who your targets are, otherwise you’ll be serving cheesecake to vegans.

Choose your tools wisely

My friend’s grandma thinks I buy billboards for work. To her, marketing is advertising and she knows I work for a nonprofit, so she knows expensive TV advertising is out of the question. Ergo, she’s convinced outdoor advertising is what I do. As much as I’d love to see NTEN’s work writ large on the Highway 1, it would be grossly inappropriate for an organization with members in Baltimore and Bangalore to target hundreds of thousands of motorists who would not consider NTEN membership relevant to their lives.

It’s a ridiculous story but it’s a mistake nonprofit marketers make every day: failing to use the right channel for the market. If the bulk of your conversions come from your email marketing and there is growth in your content marketing program, you don’t spend all your dough on Snapchat—you double down on what works and expand areas of opportunity. That same grandma has been using the same antique oven pan to make Yorkshire pudding since the 1960s for the same reason: she knows it works. A good digital marketer will understand their channels and how they differ, and be able to identify the ones that work the best for their needs.

Technique matters

If you have ever cut corners baking, you’ll know firsthand that the order of your ingredients and how you treat them can mean the difference between macaroons and maca-ruined. Tactics combine your understanding of your targets and the channels you identify as the most effective, but process is also important. It’s not just about the individual tactics you choose: it’s how they work together. Cinnamon is bitter. Sugar is saccharine. But together, they’re heavenly.

Let’s say you’re developing a multichannel campaign to promote an education campaign. Maybe you have a loyal list of email subscribers, an engaged social media following and friendly local media, so those are the three channels you decide to leverage. Which comes first?

You could start with email, encouraging your subscribers to take a challenge or show their support on social media. Your campaign grows large and interesting enough to be newsworthy and so you leverage a good relationship with local journalists to cover not just the campaign but the issue you’re trying to address. Your digital communications strategy is what allows you to put the pieces of this campaign together and combine for success.


Is your digital communications strategy a delightful croquembouche or a sticky mess? Join us at a Nonprofit Tech Roundup in New Mexico or Oregon this fall, to learn from the experts.

This article first appeared on Jo Miles Digital and is republished here with permission.

You probably don’t want to think about year-end fundraising right now. Here in DC, it was in the 90s this weekend, the sun is blazing, and November feels far away. But winter is coming, and now is the time to prepare.

You’re no sweet summer child. You’ve seen year-end fundraising before, and you know that, however busy you are this summer, you’ll be busier come year-end. Anything you do now to set yourself up for stronger fundraising will help you succeed when it matters.

And the good news is, like the farmers of Westeros socking away extra food, many of your fundraising preparations are things you should be doing anyway. They don’t even have to take away from your current work. Here are a few projects you could take on now to save yourself some pain when winter (and year-end) arrives:

Tend your infrastructure

Is your Google Analytics set up to track donations? Are you tracking conversions on Facebook ads? Do you have the data you’ll need in your CRM? Now is a great time (especially while your coworkers are on vacation) to make sure your systems are all talking to each other and that your data is being stored correctly.

If you have time, do an audit of your data systems, paying special attention to fundraising-related data. If you notice something broken, during an audit or your daily operations, fix it now.

Set up your pilot projects

Remember last December when you said to your teammate “I wish we could…” but it was already too late to try it during that campaign? Maybe you wanted to take donations directly over SMS or Facebook, or thought you could finally apply for that Google Grant, or had a cool interactive content idea. Dredge up those project ideas now and decide which ones you want to tackle for this year-end.

Implementations often take longer than you expect, so an early start could be the difference between having it ready for year-end, or not.

Gather your stories, photos, and videos

Great stories are often the key to great fundraising content, but finding the right stories isn’t always easy. The same goes for great visual content. Start keeping an eye out for the stories you want to re-tell during year-end, and when you find a good candidate, record it. Get in touch with the subject, do a write-up, and get photo and video if you can. That way, it’ll be easy to repurpose when you start creating fundraising content.

Grow your list

You should be growing your audiences all the time, but the second half of the year is especially important. Now is the time to step up your recruitment, and get as many new supporters as possible onto your email list so you can build a relationship with them before a big flurry of fundraising asks.

Test your forms

Testing is another task that, ideally, you should be doing regularly. If you’re not, think about your donation forms and the experience they’re providing your supporters. What questions have come up in internal discussions about your forms? Now is the ideal time to undertake some testing to prove or disprove your hypotheses about what drives donations, and it’ll boost your conversion rates down the road.

Way back in the late 1990s, I learned HTML on a whim. Inspired by my travels through webrings, I wanted my own place to share my budding activism and earnest poetry. I had no idea the effect it would have on my career, and how it would eventually change my life.

Back then, we were willing to spend hours downloading AOL on our 2800 (yes, twenty-eight-hundred) baud modems and websites were mostly just for big companies or discussion forums. Then GeoCities hit the scene and suddenly anyone could have a website, dedicated to pretty much anything at all.

I immediately planned to make my own site in the West Hollywood neighborhood (I know it was for gay men, but there was no neighborhood for lesbian/bi/queer women, so…). I was working for a small computer consulting firm as an office manager, and I asked our newest technician if he would help me set it up.

In many ways, he embodied the worst stereotypes of computer nerds: he was often rude and condescending, and personal hygiene wasn’t high on his list of priorities. But he knew his stuff. He said he’d help me, but on one condition: I had to learn HTML, so I could do it myself.

He probably set that condition so I wouldn’t keep bothering him with changes and fixes after his initial help getting my page going, but it stuck with me.

After I moved on from that first office job, I found small ways to use my newfound proficiency at other jobs. I made copious use of Webmonkey (RIP) and their wealth of HTML glossary and tutorials, and I kept playing around with various free web platforms like Blogger and WordPress. With enough practice, the code became familiar to me, like a fluent second language.

I’m no developer, not by a long shot, but having a good grasp of HTML (as well as some basic CSS) has helped me be able to:

  • fix weird formatting issues in emails,
  • update one nonprofit’s website for several months after the server crashed (taking with it the custom-built content management system) and all updates had to be hand-coded,
  • save another nonprofit thousands of dollars by bringing email creation in-house, and
  • learn CSS more easily, since there are some similarities.

Most importantly, it helped me eventually transition into doing work that I love and which engages and challenges me every day. In my current role with NTEN, I create and code all of our emails and format our blog posts and web pages (among numerous other communications-related duties). I use my knowledge daily, from basic creation to solving bigger issues like making our emails more mobile-friendly, as well as looking under the hood at other emails or websites to see if I can adapt their code for our purposes.

So how much HTML should you learn? At a minimum, it’s helpful to know how to make text look pretty: bolding, starting new paragraphs, making bullet point lists, etc. Cultivating your attention to detail and nitpicky-ness is also important: precision is key in coding.

Here are just a few of my favorite resources:

  • Lynda.com: an inexpensive way to start learning
  • Treehouse: great beginner and advanced tutorials
  • W3.org: look up HTML codes for just about anything
  • Litmus: resources & forums for advanced email designers
  • WebAIM: tips and tools to improve accessibility

While GeoCities has since shuttered and taken my site with it (though a few intrepid souls have created some archives), today there are myriad options for creating your own site—too many to list, in fact. And though many of the platforms feature easy-to-use drag and drop systems, it’s still quite handy to to be able to understand the underlying coding so you can easily customize templates to your liking.

It’s easier than you think—go forth and code!

It took me three months into my social media dream job to realize why the word “online” was part of my job title. It was 2010, and I had finally found a job that had social media marketing at its heart, at a small AIDS nonprofit that planned to use Facebook, Twitter and dating apps to connect with people living with and at risk for HIV.

Even before my first day, I’d had a run-in with our horrible, outdated and very difficult website, but I knew there was a web developer on retainer and I figured it was his problem. Or maybe it was the Executive Director’s problem. Or perhaps the office administrator. I don’t suppose there was someone on the board who could help? A volunteer? Bueller?

As anyone who works in digital marketing or fundraising knows, your organization’s website is at the crux of how people relate to your organization and its work. When something is wrong, it hurts your ability to attract, engage, and convert the people you need to make your work a success. As it turned out, our website was my problem, and to solve it, we needed to build a working digital strategy.

What is a digital strategy?

For many nonprofits, technology adoption isn’t hard. We’re smart people, and we’re perfectly capable of finding the tools we need to help us perform particular tasks. But what often happens is that an organization will accrue a slew of tools, all of which maybe do what they should perfectly, but still aren’t getting the results that you need them to. Perhaps your content strategy is bringing scores of people to your website but you aren’t capturing them in your email list for fundraising campaigns, or you’re gaining lots of Instagram followers but none of them know about your online forum. A good digital strategy will knit your tools and aspirations together into a cohesive plan to meet your goals.

We’re here to help. NTEN is producing two conferences this fall—in New Mexico and Oregon—and both are designed to help you develop and refresh your digital strategy. The program includes case studies, workshops, panels, presentations, and tactical sessions, to help you formulate the best strategy for your organization, and show you how other nonprofits have done it.

That seems like a big task. Where do I even start?

I am a people person and NTEN relies on members to survive, so I like to start with personas. What are the groups of people that want to engage with your organization, how did they find you, what do they want to know, how do they want to engage, and what do you most want them to do? Plot their journey from an unconnected community member to engaged part of your inner circle, donor or member. What’s their ideal journey? What roadblocks are in the way right now? How can you clear them?

Identify the top handful of actions you really want your constituents to take—for example, donate, advocate, join or inform others—and consider the technologies they need to do that easily. Find data that can tell you how you successfully moved them to that action (or “converted” them, in marketing-speak). How many touch-points do you need? What’s the story to tell them, and where and how is it best told? Which are the channels that net you the most success, and why do you think that is?

Like me, when I finally realized the website monster was mine to tame, you will have a lot of questions. But it’s only through considering the (sometimes difficult) questions that you can build a digital strategy, pulling together your organization’s disparate parts and making them work better, for you and the communities you represent.

Best of luck! We hope to see you in the fall.

The digital landscape is changing at a dizzying rate and sometimes it feels like the plans you made yesterday are obsolete by morning. But help is at hand!

For the third year, NTEN is proud to partner with Care2, hjc and Resource Alliance on a report that sets the standard for nonprofit digital planning. But we need your help. The 2017 Digital Outlook Report is powered by responses by nonprofit professionals just like you. The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete and you’ll be entered in the drawing for some great prizes.

Take the survey today and be the first to know when the findings are published later this year.


How many emails is the right number to send to your constituents? What kind of fundraising appeals are most effective? These are the questions that keep nonprofit marketing and development staff awake at night.

This year, NTEN is again teaming up with M+R on its Benchmarks Study: an in-depth look at nonprofit data, strategy, and trends. The study helps nonprofit fundraisers, organizers, and marketers make smart decisions based on the experiences of their peers. But we need your help.

Will you take part in the 11th Benchmarks Study in 2017? By adding your data, you’ll help make Benchmarks more useful. Your investment will be just a few hours of effort to collect and report your data to M+R, which will confidentially roll it up into the final study.

Complete the expression of interest form to take part.

If you’re anything like me, your email list is your work baby.

You’ve worked hard to build your organization’s email list. You send out a regular newsletter with all your latest links and information. You A/B test your subject lines and monitor your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.

You do all these wonderful things to take care of your list and as a result, your open and click-through rates are on par with nonprofit averages.

But you don’t want to be average. You want to be great: a leader, the head of the pack, the top of the class. You want your boss to say “wow!” at your next review.

Meanwhile, your boss and fellow staff members don’t quite understand what it takes to increase open and click-through rates, especially in this day and age when people are so inundated with information. And sometimes, they can get even get in the way of your organization’s success without even realizing it.

For example, one day during a check-in meeting with your boss she tells you how excited she is about the newest partnership you’ve formed with another organization. She can’t wait to tell the world about it and wants you to put an announcement the next e-letter.

The problem is there’s not much of a story to tell quite yet so this information is only relevant to a small group of your closest supporters. Now what?

You’re in a bind—you don’t want to be the one to always say “no” to these kinds of requests, because you know how important this partnership is to her. At the same time, you also don’t want to keep sending out announcements that not many people care about and risk having low click-through rates or people unsubscribing.

Don’t you wish there was a way you could say “yes” to your boss’s request and improve your open and click-through rates?

This is where email segmentation comes in.

Instead of sending information to everyone, you can use email segmenting to send an email to one specific slice of your list.

If you haven’t used this tactic yet, this will bring your email strategy to the next level. When done right, you’ll see much higher open and click-through rates for emails sent to one segment. Another benefit is people on your list will get more information about things they like to hear about, and less information about topics they don’t care about. You can interact with influencers more often without bothering your more casual subscribers. And, finally, you can say “yes” when your boss tells you to send out an announcement you know your entire list doesn’t want to hear about.

Here’s how to get started segmenting your email list:

The first step is to figure out how to divide your list. You can break up your list by interest, audience type, and/or an action they’ve taken.

Let’s use an email list for an animal shelter as an example. Here are some ways to divide that list:

Interest: Dogs, cats, rabbits, or some combination of the three types of animals you take in.

Audience type: Volunteers at the shelter, animal foster parents, animal activists, and people who have adopted an animal from your shelter or who are interested in adopting.

Action they’ve taken: Whether they’ve donated in the past, signed up for your animal wellness training, or opened or clicked one of your recent email campaigns.

More than likely, many people on your list will fall into more than one of these groups, and that’s ok.

Next, figure out how to sort people into those groups.

Here are some ideas:

  • Use the information you already have in your database to segment your email list
  • Ask people about their interests when they sign up for your enewsletter
  • Track which page people were visiting when they signed up for your enewsletter online
  • Sort people based on what kinds of events they attended: If they attended a volunteer orientation, you can put them in the “volunteer” group; if they attended a bunny basics class, you can put them into the “rabbits,” “attended training,” and “potential adoptee” groups, etc.
  • Use their open and click activity from past emails to sort them into groups. This is a good practice to help you divide the more and less engaged subscribers and target your emails accordingly

If you use MailChimp, this guide can walk you through the process in more detail.

Finally, start sending targeted emails to your segments. You should target both your highly engaged subscribers and your more casual subscribers in different ways.

For more engaged groups, send emails that feature one highly-targeted article, announcement, or resource roundup. Don’t worry—you don’t have to create new content just to send emails to your segments. These emails can include information that you may have already featured or are going to feature in your regular newsletter. You can also send these groups “sneak peeks” of new resources to generate some buzz before you make a more formal announcement.

For less engaged subscribers, use email segmentation to experiment with new messages and subject lines. For example, if people didn’t click on the “donate” button in your latest email fundraising campaign, target that audience and try a new email format, video, or story to see what might resonate with them.

Another easy segment to target is people who didn’t open a previous campaign. Copy your most recent email and send it again a week or two later with a different subject line to the people who didn’t open the first one.

Don’t be surprised if emails sent to less engaged groups have a lower open and click-through rate than your regular newsletter. However, this practice gives you another opportunity to reach people on the outskirts of your list and may boost the total number of clicks to the articles in your newsletter.

Final note: Email is one of your best communications tools to reach multiple audiences. Segmentation gives you many possibilities to increase engagement with both your power users and your more casual subscribers. Go give it a try!