Let’s start this conversation by agreeing that mass email should not replace phone calls, occasional snail mail, or even individual emails. Agreed? Okay!
Mass email at its best should enhance your overall communication strategy and engage more constituents in a way that makes those other communication channels more effective.
It also allows for regular, intentional contact with your constituent base that–to be perfectly frank–isn’t scalable in any other format.
If you’re not already taking advantage of mass email, I’m here to tell you that it’s not as hard, scary, or expensive as you may think–and you’re totally missing out.
It’s Easy. Seriously.
No matter what platform you choose to use, sending mass email is a total cinch, and any platform worth using will have a support team who can help you through the bumps along the way. It’ll also have design templates that set you up for visual success, which is a huge plus.
The real trick then is good content, but the secret sauce isn’t an MFA in creative writing or years of professional email experience or any special certification. It’s knowing your constituents.
And no one knows them better than you and your team, right? So, quit being scared about the content.
If you’re not sure about your constituents, perhaps a mass email asking for participation in a survey so you can learn more about them would be a good place to start.
Make Mass Email Work for Your Organization.
Segmenting who you send a mass email to gives you the opportunity to connect with particular interest groups within your constituent base.
Think of it like this: You’re planning your annual gala with a separate ticket for an after-party meant to target individuals in a lower giving bracket. You also need volunteers to help at the event.
Sending the same invitation email to all three groups might be considered tacky, so a better option would be to craft three emails, one to target each group.
By doing this, you look like you “know” the email recipient, even better if you personalize the email using merge fields to insert the name of the recipient. (This might be where that support staff comes in handy!)
This isn’t to say you don’t invite volunteers to purchase a ticket or that you don’t notify your high-level donors that there are volunteer opportunities available. But you lead with and emphasize the content that is the most appropriate for the segment receiving that particular version of the email.
Not to mention, sending emails through a platform instead of a blind copy email from a personal account allows you to track the performance of that email. How many opens? How many clicks? Which links were the most popular? And so forth.
Don’t Break the Bank.
Keep your expectations in check. Before joining Bloomerang, I spent a number of years at a digital marketing agency and then a few more with a communication-heavy nonprofit. And I can tell you that you don’t need to be fancy when it comes to emails.
You need to have a clear understanding of what resources you have available (time, talent, money, software, sanity), and you should make the best decision based on those resources. There’s nothing wrong with fancy, but you don’t need a sophisticated drip campaign to send a monthly e-newsletter or an event invitation.
All you need is a platform with email templates, a support staff, list/filter options (for segmenting), and merge tag/fields (for personalization). If you’re using Bloomerang, that’s all built in for you at no additional cost. But there are plenty of other options out there, MailChimp and Constant Contact tend to be popular for smaller operations.
Wrap it Up.
The point is that incorporating mass email into your overall communication can make it easier, faster, and more effective for you and your constituents.
Mass email doesn’t have to be impersonal. And it doesn’t have to win a Pulitzer. It just needs to show you know the people you’re sending it to, and you care enough to share what’s relevant to their relationship with you and your organization.