Email is really important for your campaign. Research shows that Americans are spending two and a half hours, on average, each day using email. It’s also an “owned” audience which means you control the content and distribution, unlike social media or paid media. Most importantly, it’s where most of your online fundraising happens.
But for those just getting started with email, there are some common mistakes that I see very often. Here’s a look at what they are, why they’re bad and how you can avoid them:
The Subject Line is An Afterthought
Consider this: even if you have an amazing 40% open rate, the majority of your email subscribers will only ever have the chance to read your subject line. Your email’s subject lines should be the first part of the email that you write.
No other copy has as much impact on how your email performs.
Your subject line should give supporters a reason to open the email and take action, by conveying urgency, relevance, and value.
Too Many Calls to Action
You’ve only got 13.4 seconds of a reader’s attention if they decide to open your email. If you give them more than one thing to do, you’re running the risk that they’ll take longer to decide than they’ll take to read your email.
In other words, if you give a subscriber multiple choices, they most often select “none of the above.”
Keep it to a single call to action per email.
Buried Call to Action
Again, 13.4 seconds. If that call to action isn’t in the first scroll of the email, your reader won’t know what to do. Putting it in the first two paragraphs of your email is usually a good rule of thumb.
Not Scheduling Emails for the Best Send Times
There’s no one, single “best” time to send an email. And sometimes it’s good to switch it up and schedule emails for odd hours to reach some segments, but, in general you should be sending your emails when your subscribers are using email, which is during work hours.
In my experience this is usually mornings around 10 a.m., around lunch at noon, or mid-afternoon, like 3 p.m., but every list is different and you need to find out what works for you. But don’t just send an email to get it out the door and keep the boss happy. Schedule it strategically.
Not Optimized for Mobile
Most of your readers are opening their email on a mobile device, so if your landing page or donation form aren’t optimized for mobile, you’ll miss out on conversions.
If there’s a spelling error or grammatical mistake, someone will notice and that person will care – A LOT. They may even have the ear of your candidate.
I write all of my emails in Google Docs, which automatically spell- and grammar-checks all of my work.
But it’s still good to write your emails in a conversational tone, so don’t follow grammar rules too slavishly.
You’ve been building your list, you wrote the perfect subject line, a supporter was convinced by your call to action, but when they clicked, the link was broken. It’s like a pass slipping through the receiver’s fingers at the 10 yard line.
Avoid this mistake by always testing your emails and clicking on every link. Every time. I’ve lost track of how many marketing emails I’ve sent in the last decade, but I still test each and every one.
No Reply? No Way!
Unlike broadcast media, email is a two-way medium. If you don’t have a working reply-to email address in your email, you’ll miss out on valuable feedback (and donations) from your supporters.
Corresponding with individual from this address is a great way to improve your deliverability as well because it teaches email service providers that its users want to receive email from the address.
Email is the most critical tool a digital campaign has, so you’ve got to learn how to do it right. By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an email pro.