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How Email Marketing Is Different For Non-Profits

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Trying to run a marketing campaign for a non-profit can be much different than that of one for a company. Not only are your goals normally different, but the methods in which you employ the marketing campaign will also likely differ. While there are many articles out there that will give you advice on how to run an email marketing campaign, most of them are not focused on non-profits. Below we will go over some of the things that you should consider if you are running an email marketing campaign for a non-profit, and suggest some changes that you may want to make.

First, we should go over the purpose of an email marketing campaign. With many marketing strategies – like television ads or billboards – you are casting a wide net in the hopes that you will increase brand awareness. You are not reaching out to any specific customer, forcing your ads to be more generalized. You can reach more people with these methods, but you don’t know if they are interested in what you are offering. With an email marketing campaign however, you are talking directly to people who are interested in what you have to say. Email addresses are normally gathered after a purchase is made, or when someone signs up for something like a newsletter. This means they have an interest in your company or product, and they will likely want to hear more about it. While an email marketing campaign will most likely reach less people than a television spot, you should get a higher conversion rate with this method.

When you run an email marketing campaign for a non-profit, you are going to need to take a different approach than one for a for-profit. Here are a few ways that the two differ, and the steps you can take to run your non-profit email marketing campaign effectively.

  • Targeting – First, you need to think about who the email is for. While a company running an email campaign may be trying to get return customers, a non-profit is more likely looking for something like donors. You may be targeting people who have signed up for your newsletter, but who have not donated, or people who have donated before and you are trying to get them to make another donation.
  • Message – Just as your targeting is different, so is how you interact with them. Trying to sell a product is different than asking for a donation. Instead of talking about all of the deals and discounts they can find at your website, you’ll be bringing up all of the great things your non-profit is currently doing. Think about who is going to be receiving the message, and what the best way to talk to them will be.
  • Resources – Email marketing can be a very cost-effective way to reach your audience, but that doesn’t make it free. More than likely you will need some decent software to facilitate your campaign, people to run it, and you’ll also want tracking services so that you can see if your campaign is working. Many non-profits have tight budgets, so you may have to work within these confines. You will need to get more out of your campaign for less money, and this will alter the type of software you use, how often you run the campaign, how big the campaign is, and many other factors. While for-profit companies can use their ROI to grow their email marketing campaign, non-profits may not have that luxury.

As you can see, trying to run the same email marketing campaign for a non-profit as you would a for-profit will simply not work. There are several things that you will need to adjust in order to make sure that your campaign is a successful one. The tone, audience, and size of the campaign will most likely all be different, and these need to be taken into account. Non-profits that can do this successfully will find email marketing to be a strong tool in reaching out to their base.

Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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