You get dozens of emails in your inbox each day from businesses, non-profits and other organizations. Which ones did you open today?
Chances are you opened the ones that had good content in their last email or from organizations that you genuinely enjoy hearing from. All of the other ones that have no perceived value, you probably deleted.
Email is a great medium for communicating with constituents and, in my opinion, the most effective on the online ones. Think about it. With social media, you’re lucky if you have caught someone’s attention for more than 3 seconds. With email, you have their mostly undivided attention in their personal inbox. That’s why it is all the more important to make sure that you’re sending out quality emails.
One of the ways that to improve the quality and value of your emails is to tell your constituents stories.
What Makes an Email Valuable and Memorable
It might seem like a subjective thing to try and quantify, but the truth of the matter is there is a way to figure out whether the emails your organization sends are actually valuable.
Ask your email recipients!
They all opted in to your email list for a reason and knowing what that reason is will be immensely helpful to you as you work to make your email communication the best on the block.
My recommendation is to start by understanding your audience, their motivators and their needs. Determining these things can be part of an exercise in creating an audience persona.
Generally speaking, an email will be perceived as valuable and thus memorable when it is done something to add value to the readers’ lives. This could include:
- Providing them with useful information that they can use. For example the Heart & Stroke Foundation provides a heart healthy recipe in all of their newsletters.
- Deepening their connection to your organization and showing them the community that they are a part of. Free Wheelchair Mission does an outstanding job of this in their Friday story emails.
In both cases, receiving emails from those organizations creates a mental cue for reader to recall that there will be something good inside. This encourages people to continue to open and read.
How Valuable Are Your Emails Currently?
As a part of applying what you’re reading here today, I’d like to encourage you to do right now is pull up the last 3 emails that your organization sent to your list. Print them out and lay them side by side.
After re-reading each of them, answer the following questions:
- What was the content of our emails? Are there any themes or recurring information?
- Was this content relevant for our audience?
- What information from the emails could our audience use?
If you’re feeling up to a deeper dive on this assessment project, try reaching out to a few email subscribers to get their perspective on your emails. This will really take the guess work out of this project.
Small Changes Add Up
If you’re feeling like you need to overhaul your entire email program right now, I would encourage you to take a step back and take a deep breath. It is very easy to feel like we have to make drastic changes when we feel like something isn’t right. But the beauty of email is that we can make small changes, test them and continue to iterate.
What might this look like?
Perhaps you try adding a new content feature to your email, such as a story or knowledge in action. If you’re a healthcare organization, for example, there are endless opportunities for you to help people with their self-care. Maybe you include a healthy tip each month that has a link to a longer article that subscribers can read. You could measure the success of this by looking at how many people click through to the longer article.
Think about small changes that you can make to your emails to make them more valuable to your subscribers. Then take one at a time to figure out where you can add the most value to your subscribers’ lives.