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Have we all become social media converts? Charitable organisations would argue otherwise.

The digital switchover: have we all become social media converts? Some charitable organisations would argue otherwise. Times are changing and social media is very much becoming flavour of the month with more and more of us switching over to sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate both socially and commercially.

So how can we pull the focus back around to the inbox again?

One might argue that there are lessons to be learned from today’s charities and in particular their email marketing efforts. According to Sign Up.To’s Email Benchmarking Report, charities on average enjoy almost 4% higher open rates as well as lower than average opt-out rates.

So what are they doing that I’m not? I hear you cry!

The truth is in some cases it might not be anything new, but the difference is that charities are doing it better. To show you how your email campaigns can become box office blockbusters instead of digital waste, we’ll look at three elements which make for successful campaigns.

1. Strategy: don’t be a one hit wonder, communicate a story or journey
Recent studies show that brands with a story are more successful in today’s tough marketplace. Therefore think about the different stages a customer might interact with your brand and plan relevant email communications around those communication points.

  • Oxfam, one of our clients, has recently deployed a series of transactional emails which alert people when a friend has bought them an Oxfam Unwrapped gift.
  • The purchaser and the gift recipient are both notified at prominent stages in the process, from the gift being purchased to the receiver opening it.
  • This kind of digital dialogue helps to reinforce positive brand interactions whilst making your audience more likely to purchase, donate or sign-up.

2. Get creative: deliver Hollywood to their inboxes
The use of video in email is still unsupported by most email clients however that doesn’t stop you using the principle. Many of our clients opt to use a video image featuring a play button as an alternative.

  • The use of artwork in an email is often one of the first elements to be observed and helps to create immediate interest when a recipient opens it.
  • Make sure your choice of artwork is relevant to the subject matter and where possible, make it a key element in your creative, not only a supporting role.

Apart from flashy images and videos, remember who your audience is. Our client, Action for Children did this when they opted to send three versions of what would have been a dry email campaign and varied the content depending on the target audience. More on how they achieved this can be found on our Campaign of the month blog.

3. Digital relations: email and social media
The time for grappling for a major share of your audience’s digital ambit with only email has passed. Social media sites make it easier for customers to become a true advocate of your brand by sharing, liking and conversing because the need to purchase or donate is often redundant. However email can provide you with a more personal communication tool and can be useful for instigating a dialogue between two parties. Decide your communication objectives and plan from there.

If you intend to increase traffic to your website then your strategy could involve:

  • an announcement email to your customers
  • supporting tweets to announce the sites availability
  • links in your campaign to share the email on your social network of choice
  • MessageFocus also allows you to attract new prospect data by including a sign-up form in the shared campaign

So is email really dead? Not at all and quite on the contrary; if anything charity based email marketing has proven that email communications, when done tactfully, creatively and personally can yield positive results. Furthermore, they have demonstrated how utilising more than one digital communication channel can boost an organisation’s marketing efforts and often increase their ROI.

Mark Bonner
Marketing Assistant

 

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