The legislative sessions are starting all across the country and many organizations are gearing up to get their people involved in advocacy efforts. More and more organizations are relying on Grassroots Advocacy Software to engage their audience on the issues and to create calls-to-action. Electronic calls to action are not unlike standard email marketing – both are asking your audience to do something, whether its to buy shoes or send an email to a legislators. Grassroots campaign managers can look to email marketers and glean some great tips for improving the success of their email campaigns.
In this multi-part blog post I will go over some of the basics of email marketing and share some valuable information that you can use to improve your grassroots campaigns.
- Understand the Purpose of Your Email
The first step in creating an effective email is first having a clear goal. Advocacy alert email goals are different than standard informative emails; the goal is more than just passing along a message. However, and this may come as a shock, the primary goal of an advocacy alert is NOT to get people to contact their legislators, it’s not even about telling them why they should contact their legislators or informing them on the issues. The goal of an advocacy alert email is to get them to CLICK THE LINK to take them to the campaign tool. Every paragraph, all the images, the fonts, and the formatting should all encourage people to click the link.
- Let’s Be Real
Let’s talk a minute about what you can expect from this endeavor. Email marketing is a numbers game, and it is important to understand what numbers you should expect from your first few email blasts. Obviously it is hard to come up with solid numbers for an audience that we’ve never emailed in this manner before. Each audience is different and your goal over the long term is to better understand where your open rates, your click-through rates, etc. should be. To start though, we can use what is considered to be the “standard” email open rates. Your goal at the beginning is to beat these numbers:
10-15% of your audience will open your email – That’s right, only 10-15% will even open your message. This is often dependent on many factors including the time of day they receive the email, who the email is from, and the subject line of the email. Make changes to each and see which combination of these factors works best for your audience.
10-15% of email openers will click through – Once again, we can expect a large drop off in engagement from email readers to those that will take the time to click our call to action. This statistic is often dependent on the email message and the complexity of the call to action.
Example 1: I send an email with an average subject line and average message to 500 people. An average subject line gives me a 10-15% open rate (50-75 people) and an average message gives me a 10-15% click through rate (5-12 people).
Example 2: I send an email with an above average subject line and average message to 500 people. An above average subject line gives me a 15-20% open rate (75-100 people) and an average message gives me a 10-15% click through rate (8-15 people).
Example 3: I send an email with an above average subject line and above average message to 500 people. An above average subject line gives me a 15-20% open rate (75-100 people) and an above average message gives me a 15-20% click through rate (12-20 people).
Once again, your audience engagement numbers may vary depending on the quality of your contacts and how engaged you keep them. Sending quality messages can improve your open rates over the long term. Read the section below about utilizing email statistics to understand your audience and improve your engagement.
- Create a Subject Line that Will Get Your Email Opened
People that are not familiar with email marketing typically don’t understand the importance of the subject line of the email. The subject line of your email is like a first impression, if it doesn’t go well then it is tough to recover. A poor quality subject line can negatively affect your open rate, and as a result can drastically reduce the amount of people that follow through with your call to action. Creating an effective subject line requires a bit of knowledge of your audience, but in general these types of subject lines are great at getting people to open emails:
A subject line that includes a call to action or an offer
A subject line that is concise
A subject line that is formatted to look nice
Obviously some of this is up to interpretation, but keep these in mind when you are creating a subject line and spend some time thinking about and writing a good subject line for your emails. It would be a shame to spend an hour writing a great email and sending it out with a poor subject line that causes no one to actually read your message.
Here are some examples of good and bad subject lines
Example 1: Format your subject line to look nice
Good: Your Friday Morning Newsletter from Capitol Impact
Bad: fri. morning newsletter
It may seem simple, but capitalizing words and writing a complete sentence go a long way to make your subject lines seem more professional and will often have a better open rate.
Example 2: Create a concise message
Good: Are You Ready for This Year’s Session?
Bad: The Legislative Session is Just Around the Corner, Do You Think You are Ready For It?
Both messages say the same thing, but the more concise one says it with less. If I am sending this message to an audience that is concerned with the legislative session, then I can I just say “session” and they will know what I’m talking about. A shorter, more concise and less wordy subject line will more often be better than a longer sentence.
Example 3: Include a call to action or offer
Good: We Need Your Help! HB 3 Cuts Funding to Seniors
Bad: HB 3 Cuts Funding to Seniors
Both subject lines are informative and formatted correctly, but the first one primes your audience before even opening the email that the email contains a call to action. “We Need Your Help!” tells your reader that you are going to ask them to act and can improve not only the open rate but also the click through rate because they will not be caught off guard when the body of the email includes a way they can help.
That’s it for today. Check back later for more, including “Craft a Message Designed to Get Your Audience to Act”, “Be Blunt: Tell Them What You Want” and “Use Email Stats To Improve Your Messages”