One of the most commonly-asked questions we get about online marketing is, "How do I build an email list?" Building a quality email list over time is one of the most valuable assets a nonprofit can have. Email is still the primary starting point for people taking action online. Use these best practices to ensure that you are providing multiple opportunities for potential donors to join your nonprofit email list.
- Make sure that all your media mentions are driving people to your website (make it a call to action)!
- Create a strong email-address-collection device on your website. (NOT something lame like “sign up for our e-blast") Give them an incentive or a reason to join. Give them a discount on an event. Give them an article you’ve written or tips for better living and then get their email address in return for your sending that gem to them.
- Optimize search. Make it easy for potential supporters to find you by optimizing your site for search. A lot of nonprofits are not taking advantage of Google Grants -- find out how to get started with Google Grants.
- Collect emails from donors via direct mail. When they know it's more convenient, eco-friendly and cheaper, most donors actually prefer to hear from you electronically. Whenever you send a paper mailing, include a way for supporters to opt in to your email list.
- Use your email signature. Your email is a great tool for doing marketing, whether it’s promoting an event or asking people to sign up to hear from you on your website. If people are forwarding your email, make it easy for them to opt in for your newsletter or updates on your mission.
- Ask people to sign a petition. Encourage people to get involved and share their email address, then get permission to contact them. If they're moved enough to take action by signing a petition, these folks may be your most passionate supporters.
- Collect email addresses at events. I have been to 10 nonprofit events in the last 18 months, and I can’t think of a single one that collected my email address. Lost opportunity! Make sure you collect email addresses during your registration process and have a way at the event for people to sign up for regular updates.