Marketing & Promos
February 23, 2022

7 Tips to Format Promotional Emails

Data proves that without a robust email marketing strategy in place, your charity may be leaving a big portion of its donations on the table. A few years ago when the world witnessed the social media boom, experts were quick to disregard email and thought that the medium would soon be dead. But statistics show otherwise.

According to the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report by Funraise, 33% of donors claim that email is the communication tool that most inspires them to give. Other communication tools were rated as follows: print (19%), social media (18%), website (16%), TV ad (7%), radio ad (4%), phone call (2%), and text message (1%). 

Now that we have established that email marketing remains a crucial part of any nonprofit campaign, let’s talk about how to make emails more effective. In this article, we will discuss seven tips to help you format promotional emails so they can pack a punch and bring results. 

Related: 8 Email Marketing Tips for Nonprofits to Inspire Giving and Attract Donors

Tips to format promotional emails

1. Use a catchy subject line

The importance of writing an impactful email subject line should not be underestimated. Research suggests that 33 percent of email recipients decide to open an email based on how effective a subject line is. On the flip side, a boring subject line that your target audience cannot relate to can be a deal-breaker. Here are some key elements that your subject lines should have:

  • Keep it short and concise: On mobile devices, subject lines get cut off after around 60 characters or less. And we already know that most people—around 1.7 billion users— prefer to check emails on their mobile phones compared to the 0.9 billion who prefer desktops. Example: “Last day to take action” or “Help change 20 lives this month”.
  • Make it interesting: Asking a question that will pique your recipients’ curiosity can be a good way to grab their attention and get them to open your email. For example: “Participate in our 50/50 to save lives and win life-changing prizes”  
  • Show urgency: People live busy lives. And it is easy to delay things until the last moment. To enable recipients to take an action, email subject lines should depict a sense of urgency. For example: “10 hours left to double your gift” or “Last chance to make a lifelong impact”. 

2. Focus on the email body

As a general rule of thumb, here are some things that make a great email: 

  • Email should be written professionally, without typos or grammatical errors. 
  • Length does not equate quality which means emails should be kept brief and to the point for maximum effectiveness. 
  • Keep spaces between the paragraphs to make the email easy on the eye.
  • Format it in a way so readers are able to quickly skim through it and understand the purpose of the correspondence. This means using bullets and numbered lists where necessary. 
  • To ensure the copy is flawless, proofread it at least one or two times. 

Related: How to Write Emails to Promote Your Online Fundraiser or Raffle

3. Ensure your email is responsive 

Making your nonprofit emails mobile-friendly could be the differentiating factor when it comes to increasing engagement and driving bigger results. Responsive emails are automatically customized for each device. In other words, responsive emails always render correctly regardless of the device that is being used to view them. Without adapting for mobile, you are missing out on a huge number of opportunities to positively engage your subscriber base. 

Here are some best practices to make your emails more responsive: 

  • Its best to use a single column layout so there’s very little shifting and moving on the screen. 
  • Use at least 13 or 14 point font for the body text and 20 point  for the titles. 
  • Place the most important information ‘above the fold’. This means your audience shouldn’t need to scroll down to see what it’s all about.
  • Avoid hyperlinks, add use call-to-action buttons instead. 
  • Make sure any images that you use are smaller and responsive. Don’t forget to include alt tags in case the photos don’t load for some readers. 
  • Finally, test your email to ensure it is error-free and also to understand how it will look and feel when it lands in your recipient’s inbox.

Related: How to Segment Donors: Tips for Nonprofits

4. Use colors, fonts, and imagery smartly

Various colors evoke different emotions. From a nonprofit branding perspective, colors are generally used to increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. When creating emails, use colors that reflect your nonprofit’s brand identity. Keep things subtle and make sure to not go overboard.

The same rules apply to choosing a font. For your emails, it is best to use a font that you’re already using on your nonprofit’s website or blog. This ensures a recognizable brand identity across all major touch points. You can create variety by using a bit of bold and italicized fonts to draw the eye to important details. To maintain a clean look and enhance readability, don’t use more than two different font types in your email. 

The human brain processes images much faster than text. And if you decide to add pictures to your emails, here are a couple of things that should be kept in mind: 

  • To ensure optimum image sharpness, it's best to use a 2x image size. This is usually around 1200 pixels. Additionally, image attributes and CSS can help you keep it at the width you want.
  • Another important aspect to remember is to adjust the file size of your image. When an image file is too heavy, it means a lot of your recipients will have trouble loading the email which will create an overall negative experience. Here’s a complete guide to adding images to your email marketing campaigns. 
  • Finally, don't forget to add alt text. If the image doesn’t load for any reason, alt text is what will be displayed in its place. 

5. Remember to use your logo

As a nonprofit or charity connecting with its donor base, it is very important to incorporate your logo within your email marketing campaigns. Logos offer a great way to help your supporters recognize your nonprofit. A logo also allows nonprofits and charities to build a brand identity.

When sending out an email or newsletter, logos can be placed on the top right as this is the most common placement. Another option is to centre them on top, or place them at the bottom within the signature. At the end, it is important to remember that whatever style you choose to go with, consistency is important. Create a consistent design with logo placement.

6. Ensure that your email contains a clear CTA

The entire purpose of your nonprofit email campaign is to evoke a response from the recipient. A CTA or Call-To-Action is a button or link that prompts users to click. In general, CTAs use bright colors and are prominently placed. They also use crisp, to-the-point, and actionable verbiage. For example: “Donate now”.

CTAs have long been a great way to improve conversions and are far better alternatives to hyperlinks. Some CTA best practices include using action-oriented text, making the buttons large and visible, creating a sense of urgency, using contrasting colors, and making the buttons interactive. You can even take a step further and add some directional cues to the CTA in your email such as arrows. For best results, A/B test at least two different buttons to see which one receives higher engagement.

Related: How to Write Emails for an Online Raffle Launch

7. Do not miss out on including contact info and an unsubscribe link

An unsubscribe link is usually placed at the bottom of the email and allows recipients to opt-out of a mailing list if they choose to. Unsubscribe links are important for email deliverability and are required by anti-spam laws around the world. 

Sometimes, when users can’t find the unsubscribe link, they will end up marking your nonprofit emails as spam. An unsubscribe link helps avoid frustration, offers valuable feedback (by showing how many people opted out of an email campaign and offering clues to how you can improve your emails), and helps organizations comply with anti-spam regulations. Also, be sure to include your organization’s contact information in the email footer in case a recipient wants to get in touch to learn more about your initiatives.

Make the best use of these tips and your emails are more likely to see bigger returns on investment and higher donor engagement. 

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