Posted by Jay Wilkinson

When it comes to email marketing, the question isn’t whether or not you should do it; the real question is, how do you do it properly? If your email marketing strategy is well thought out and executed, you will find it to be one of the most impactful and cost-effective marketing tools you have.

That said, here are three common but important types of email messages I recommend that nonprofit organizations include in their marketing plans.

  1. An automated responder email. These are emails that automatically go out when someone registers for an event, makes a donation or opts in to your emails. Users will get an automated reply saying, “Thank you, we appreciate your kind support of our organization, blah, blah, blah.” Automated responders are part of every email marketing program—they’re very typical.

    With that in mind, my recommendation is, make yours different. Don’t do what everyone else does and don’t use the default email that comes with your email marketing program. Change it to something that impresses your subscribers—maybe a fun fact or a statistic about your organization, or even an impact story. Don't just respond by saying “thank you” over and over. Make your message substantive.
  2. A dedicated email. Also known as stand-alone emails, a dedicated email is one that has just one specific message. For example, you can use a dedicated email to notify your subscribers about a new whitepaper you’ve released or invite them to attend your next event. Dedicated emails are used to really drive results with one main call to action, and they can be very personalized and specific to the recipient.
  3. A digest email. Several nonprofits send out digest emails, especially those that have educational material to offer. Let’s say the Alzheimer’s Association has hundreds of resources to help people understand how to deal with this disease. So once a week, maybe every few weeks, they might send information out in bite-size portions that help educate people. This is the most typical use of a digest email. If you don’t have educational content, this type of message might not be relevant for you.

Bottom line: Send out emails when you have something timely, relevant and substantive to say. There are two other types of emails I’d recommend—drip campaigns and email newsletters—but I’m going to reserve more space to talk about each of those because they’re two of the most important types of emails you should consider.