Your fundraising and/or marketing budget is small, tight and stretched to the max. Even if it's large, you wish it was a little big bigger or more encompassing. There is a constant struggle of wiggling around that budget and attempting to get great results with it. Email is a great, cost-effective tool and email lists are the most important component of your online marketing and communication strategy.
An email service provider (ESP) is software that provides database management solutions. An ESP holds your email database, sends communication out to your list, can segment that list and allows you to keep track of key statistics. An ESP also automates tasks that would otherwise be extremely time consuming or complex. Here's what else they do:
- Help with CAN-SPAM compliance: As a nonprofit, CAN-SPAM does not technically apply to you but you should still follow basic rules. An ESP will resolve spam complaints, handle your unsubscribe requests and...
- Improve deliverability: A major role of the ESP you choose will be to maintain the highest possible delivery rates for your communications. An ESP will have relationships with internet service providers, they will ensure IP addresses are white listed and they will stay on top of changing rules and guidelines.
- Track statistics: ESPs will provide detailed, real-time statistics that are vital to your marketing. You can find out what's working or not working, who's reading what, who is subscribing and unsubscribing and much more. Without these statistics, it is near impossible to get a good read on what to improve, change or keep the same.
- List Management: Once your email database reaches over 200 names or so, it will become next to impossible to manage it manually. An ESP will update everything automatically and will avoid any mistakes an individual might make, such as a data entry mishap. Additionally, your ESP can segment your list for you, allowing you to send out different versions of the same message and target people more specifically and successfully.
- Email formatting: With so many people out there receiving emails on a Blackberry or other mobile device, as well as all of the different email readers on computers, formatting emails is increasingly difficult. Most ESPs can help you with that, by providing templates and keeping you aware of what's out there. Also, and most importantly, they can assist you in testing your emails and fixing them before you send out your communication to the list itself.
Need a flexible and easy-to-use email marketing tool? See if Network for Good's EmailNow is right for you and your organization.
Source: Adapted by Jake Emen from Marc Lee's Nonprofit 911 Presentation "Email Fundraising on a Tight Budget"