When was the last time you received a great email from a non-profit?
Considering the vast number of non-profit email lists that I subscribe to, I wish I could say that I received a great one recently but none come to mind.
That fact worries me.
Email is one of the most important relationship building tools that we have at our disposal and we are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow those relationships. Think about how many donors your organization has. If it’s over 500, it starts to become very challenging to have a personal relationship with each of those individuals. Thus scalable communications tools like email must play a key role in facilitating and growing those relationships.
Part of growing a relationship with a constituent is building a deeper emotional connection. Telling stories in your emails can help you achieve that.
5 Steps to Using a Story in Your Next Email
Telling a story in an email is a very cost-effective way to share your non-profit’s stories. All it takes is a bit of text and sometimes a picture.
Here are the 5 steps you need to take to use a story in your next email.
Step 1: What story will you tell? You probably have lots of stories at your disposal, but for the purposes of this exercise you only need to pick one. I would recommend choosing a story that helps you meet your goal, whatever that might be. I explain how you can do that in this video.
Step 2: Decide if the story will be contained in the email or if people can read more on a landing page. Depending on which route you go, the workflow will be slightly different. For instance, if the story will be contained in the email it will probably be shorter and you won’t have to worry about linking to a website page that has the rest of the story.
Step 3: Write, write, write. Writing copy for an email isn’t rocket science, I promise. Use shorter sentences and paragraphs to keep the eyes moving through the email. While storytelling is about rich details, focus on conveying one key emotion. Anything that does not support that needs to go! In terms of word count, if you’re telling the whole story in one email aim for 500 to 750 words. If you’re going to include a link to read/view the rest of the story, keep the copy to about 250 words – short and sweet!
Step 4: Format with an image. We are visual beings and it’s been consistently proven with tests that an email with an image performs better. I would recommend choosing a large image and placing it above the text.
Step 5: Send and evaluate. Once you’ve sent out your email, build in time for evaluation. This is one of the most important exercises you can do in fundraising and communications. There really is no point to doing what we do if we are not going to be reflective and find ways to improve how we work.
Have you used a story in an email? Leave a comment below and tell us how you told the story and what format you used.