Return to Sender
“Not a known member.” “Undeliverable.” “Deleted.”
These e-alternatives to the old postal pain-in-the-neck message “Return to Sender” can be annoying at best. At worst, they can signal a sad state of affairs in your e-mail files that can waste your organization’s precious time and money — not to mention eroding delicate donor relationships because your advocacy, fundraising, educational and thank-you messages, etc., simply aren’t getting through.
As e-mail is given a larger chunk of space in the fundraiser’s toolkit, organizations are learning that you can’t just hit “send” and hope for the best. Even more than that of physical postal addresses, the e-mail universe is a fluid, soupy milieu where inhabitants can change identities on a whim and contact information has the lifespan of a snowflake in August.
That said, there’s more to worry about when it comes to e-mail than just the fickle nature of the people behind the screen names. Even if you get that right — your lists are clean, up to date and relevant — you still have to do something to ensure that what does get through actually means something to the people it gets through to. It has to mean enough to avoid the dreaded “delete” or “mark as read” fate.
Every e-mail has to present a pleasant reading experience, as well as allow the recipient to do what it is you’re asking her to do, and to do it effortlessly and painlessly.
Here, Jordan Ayan, chief executive of Illinois-based e-mail marketing service provider SubscriberMail, lists the 10 things an organization needs to do and/or have to make the best possible use of its e-mail address files.
1. Content relevancy is king.
The most important thing any nonprofit organization needs to think about before it hits the “send” button is its content’s relevance. Not from its own perspective, but from the perspective of the recipient. Everyone receives a large volume of e-mail, and unless you can make sure that what you’re sending is going to be meaningful, timely, interesting, non-intrusive and in some way rewarding to the reader, you shouldn’t even think about hitting “send.”