With printing and mailing costs continuing to soar, the value of email newsletters is also on the rise. Email newsletters are an easy way to quickly dispense news about your organization, incurring minimal costs. Colorful images, graphics and videos are a breeze to include.  You can keep clients, members, volunteers and donors in the loop of information. Depending on the size of your email list, you may even get e-newsletter service for free. Sounds great, right? And it is. But as with any other tool, the potential gain could be lost, if you don’t follow some basic best practices.

Some tips for your email newsletter:

  1. Don’t Be a Ramblin’ Man:  Lengthy, wordy articles are likely to be a turn off. Don’t bury relevant and practical content. Just because you’re not incurring printing costs doesn’t mean you should use extra fluff to make it longer and fill up space.
  2. Cut to the Chase:  Remember that online communications, including email newsletters, are best when concise. Several short articles in your newsletter will make a bigger impact than a single long one.
  3. Include Links: Always look for ways to link to your website. If you’ve recently posted event photos on your website, or were featured on the local news, put a short article in the newsletter with one photo and a link to the website for more details.
  4. Share This:  Include a share bar with each article so your raving fans can share the good news with their friends on Facebook, Twitter etc.
  5. Keep It Simple:  Too many articles, elaborate graphic design, too much text, or complicated page layout can be a deterrent for readers.
  6. A Picture is Worth 1000 Words:  Whenever possible add the human element to your newsletter with photos and video. Volunteer, member or staff profiles are another way to personalize and bring readers into your mission.
  7. Are You Talking to Me? Tailor your articles to your email list. Make sure your content is relevant and practical. If your organization has a large volunteer component with frequent news relevant to them, consider creating a volunteer newsletter that will address their concerns.
  8. Is This Working?  E-Communication systems like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer free reports that can help you refine your newsletters by seeing what works. Reports show who has opened, whether they clicked through to your links and whether they came back to review the articles.
  9. Include a Call to Action:  Typically this is your pitch for a donation, but other ways to engage your email readers include surveys, calls for volunteers, or event signups.
  10. Show Me the Money:  Just as you do on your website (you do, right?) make sure it’s easy for someone to become a donor at the slightest inspiration by displaying a Donate Button in every e-newsletter.