Digging Into E-newsletters
This article is excerpted from an M+R Strategic Services whitepaper of the same title. Read the paper in its entirety, along with its accompanying charts and stats here.
“Urgent vote TOMORROW!” “Your account balance is overdue.” “Hurry, final sale ends tonight!”
With so many other, potentially more urgent messages competing for your e-mail list members’ attention, what can nonprofits do to maximize the likelihood that their e-newsletters will be opened, read and clicked on?
We recently conducted a review of five national nonprofits’ e-newsletters to help isolate some reliable ways to grab your readers’ attention and draw them in to your e-newsletter. Our survey included standard monthly newsletters (which were sent to the majority of the organizations’ e-mail lists) that were issued by Human Rights First, The Human Rights Campaign, the Smithsonian Institution, League of Conservation Voters, and The Wilderness Society between February and June 2007.
By examining design, content, and link popularity, as well as messaging metrics such as clickthrough rates and open rates, we arrived at a number of recommendations.
1. Place the most important articles at the top. Generally, the articles located near the top of the newsletter tended to receive a higher average clickthrough rate on their links.
2. Give people an opportunity to donate or take action. E-newsletters that included links to donate or take action resulted in readers clicking on those links. However, clickthrough rates for donation and take-action links in e-newsletters were still considerably lower than clickthrough rates for stand-alone action alert e-mails and donation appeals.
3. Include fun stuff in the sidebars. Some of the e-newsletters we reviewed included fun or interactive features such as trivia questions or an action counter in their sidebars under the menus that linked to articles. Readers clicked on these links, despite their lower placement in the message.