Three ways to make your email campaign a success

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns

So what makes a good email campaign? Well according to Sam Bailey, UK community manager for global online marketing company Constant Contact, if you do these three things, you’ll be off to a pretty great start. 

In the past year social media marketing has really come on in leaps and bounds. I wrote a few weeks ago about how charities can use Facebook to reach more people, but the fact remains that it’s email newsletters that remain the most effective way to encourage your supporters to become your volunteers and donors of tomorrow.

Here are three tips to help get your charity’s emails working hard for your cause.

1. Make your newsletter easy to share

First and foremost, you want to make sure your email can be easily shared. If you think of people on your newsletter list as being a route to new donors, then the more they share that email with their friends, the more new people will join your email list, and the more likely they are to become donors or volunteers.

By making your email easily shareable, you’re also making it easier for people to take the action you want them to take. Think about the ways in which you can make it easier for your readers to share your content.

It sounds unnecessary, but if you add a ‘Join my mailing list’ button to your email, then the people that your email has been shared with will easily be able to join your list too.

Also think about sharing your newsletter on your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. You’re likely to have many followers on social media, but social media relationships tend to be quite shallow. Having them on an email list that you regularly send to, deepens the relationship with your supporters.

Tip: Make it easy for other people to sign up to your newsletter by adding a ‘Join my mailing list’ button in as many places as you can.

2. Tell your story

One thing that charities do really effectively is tell a story. Much has been written recently about Stephen Sutton and his battle with cancer, but the reason why he inspired so many people and subsequently raised so much money, was because he told an incredibly compelling story.

Telling your story by email is not difficult. If you have a charity blog, the likelihood is that you’ll already have a bunch of stories that you can cut down and adapt into content for your newsletter. The important thing is that you tell a story that people identify with and are willing to take action from.

One of the last charity emails that drove me to take immediate action was an email newsletter from Samaritans. Last year they celebrated their 60th anniversary as a charity. The newsletter was effective because it told the story (briefly) of who the Samaritans are, what they do, why they need your help and how you can help them out – on this specific day.

Because they hooked me in quickly with the story and then backed that up with a simple call to action, I got my phone out and donated right away. Your charity can be equally successful if you ensure the action you want people to take is succinct and easy to achieve.

Tip: Think about some of the stories around your charity. Break the story down to 4-5 key points you can really flesh out.

3. Be as creative and clear as you can with your call to action

No matter what the content of your email newsletter, you’ll want people to take action when they get to the end.

Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap that many people do by asking your readers to do too many things. It seems counter-intuitive, but when you give people fewer options in the call to action you make it easier for people to take the action that you want. This is because readers get confused about what is best to do if they’re given choices. So make it easy and just ask them to do ONE thing.

A New York based charity called the Pajama Program (they donate pajamas and books to kids in shelters and children’s homes) regularly raise over $1,000 per email because they keep them short, personal and to the point.

This is a great example of an email they sent which had one very specific ask:

Pajama Program's email campaign

It’s short, sweet and very focused, so people know what the call to action is and how their money will be spent. This particular email campaign raised over $1,000 towards the cost of shipping the donated pajamas to the children that needed them.

The best calls to action are the ones that stand out creatively. When Water Aid did a volunteer drive a couple of months ago, their call to action button was this:

Water Aid's call to action button

Admittedly, it’s a little bit tongue in cheek, but there are any number of ways that you can be creative with your calls to action. As a charity you really have a load of options open to you when it comes to asking people to take action, asking for donations, volunteers, or anything else.

The fact is though, if you’ve told your story well and made it very easy to follow through with your call to action, you’ll be well on your way to email success.

Tip: When it comes to putting a call to action in your newsletter, make sure you only put in the one thing you want your readers to take action on.

If you follow these three pieces of advice you’ll be well on your way to getting more volunteers and donations to your cause. If you want more ideas to try, why not check out this guide we put together on using email newsletters and social media together. Or you can start creating your very own email newsletter right here.

If you’re interested in guest blogging for us, drop us a line at

Interested in making your emails work harder? Read these related articles:

Four tips for creating a responsive email design

Responsive email design – the clever part

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Sam Bailey is the UK community manager for Constant Contact and a willing volunteer for a small charity in Essex. When he isn’t posting marketing tips for small businesses he likes to climb mountains for charity.