Mission: Graduate has a big goal: 60,000 more graduates with college degrees and certificates in central New Mexico by 2020. To achieve this goal, the organization, which is an initiative of the United Way of Central New Mexico, works with over 300 partners to nurture and develop the next generation of skilled workers, engaged citizens, and civic leaders.
Like most nonprofits, Mission: Graduate works hard to keep key milestones and successes top-of-mind for their partners and supporters. Email marketing is key in their efforts.
We’re proud at Wanna Pixel to provide ongoing support for Mission: Graduate. I sat down with Emily Padilla, the organization’s Communication Manager, to learn about the what, when, and why of their email strategy.
First, what is your strategy?
We asked Emily to talk about her strategy with the organization’s e-newsletter and what they’ve learned from previous experiences.
Our strategy is to make sure that what we talk about on our website is not just promoting our work, but saying why we’re doing what we do. We redesigned our website in 2015. Our previous site was really hard to update, so we rarely posted news stories. Our email templates were also not mobile friendly. At that time, we’d shared five or six different stories in our e-newsletter. Writing the stories was hard. They needed to be long enough to tell the story, but not too long, since people wouldn’t read then. Also, if someone didn’t open the email, they’d never know what was going on.
Now, whether someone receives or reads our newsletter, we know they can come to our website or connect on social media and find the same story.
How does content development fit into your email marketing efforts?
Mission: Graduate’s website has multiple sections for news stories and partner shout-outs. Emily shared about frequency and what she looks for with content.
We ideally post something to our news section once a week. In reality, it doesn’t happen that often. Keeping this goal front-of-mind makes sure we’re telling our story whenever we can.
We have a multi-content strategy. On social media we work hard to lift up our partners, using those channels to celebrate the day-to-day things. We post new articles on our website whenever something bigger happens, like we meet one of our milestones or are planning for an upcoming event. Then our newsletter pulls the highlights from these efforts together.
When should I press send?
Rather than stick to a strict calendar, Emily explains why they let the content determine the timing of their emails.
We publish our e-newsletter whenever we’ve got enough content to share. Typically that is around every six weeks. This makes sure we have something of value to share. We always have one anchor story, such as an event or something associated with one of our Strategies. We always use an image and two to three lines of text, explaining what the story is about. Then we link back with a button to our website. We try to keep it as short as possible.
How to do more with your ask than “learn more”
While choosing the right image in emails is key, Emily shares why text is important too.
It’s really easy to always say “Learn More,” but if I can come up with something more creative it always works better, like asking a short question. People click much more often. At the same time, I think there is a fine line between engaging in an honest way and just trying to get people to click.
Metrics that matter (and remove the guesswork)
It’s no surprise that quickly reviewing your email metrics can make your next email better.
It’s really easy to review and see how our email did. We always review what our most popular links and stories were to determine what to share next time. We’ve learned that what engages people most is our visuals. Now, we keep images to a standard size. I can tell that it’s really the images we choose that attract people to the story. I take extra time choosing images for stories I want to make sure nobody misses.
Why we love this
At Wanna Pixel we know it sometimes can be more helpful to learn from the real-world experiences of your nonprofit peers than from technology consultants like us who live and breathe best practices. Mission: Graduate has received great feedback from their partners on their emails, finding them clean and quick and easy to read.
We love Emily’s honesty and spirit of “there’s always another email.” We agree! There’s always another opportunity to try something new and do something better.
Check out this content to do more with your emails:
- CiviCRM extension provides personalized links for emails
- Nonprofit Fundraising 101: Honing your ask
- Fundraising with CiviCRM: improving your ask with A/B testing
- Top 10 nonprofit storytelling best practices
- How to create a successful email campaign, Part 1: Growing your email list
- How to create a successful email campaign, Part 2: Writing your emails
- Case Study: How One Simple Online Form Changed the Way a Human-Services Nonprofit Works - November 16, 2018
- Case Study: What YouthBuild USA Learned from Completing a CiviCRM System Evaluation - November 16, 2018
- Mission: Graduate Shares Five Email Marketing Tips - October 25, 2018