Skip to content

Email Marketing That Sounds Good Enough to Read

Email Marketing That Sounds Good Enough to Read

Guest post by Fervor Marketing Concepts

Fervor sponsors Nonprofit Connect's Marketing Matters series. Check out our next program about Google Maps, Apps and Beyond on July 12. Learn more and RSVP.

Knowing what to say is the easy part. But here’s the challenge: how to say it? Our clients and friends often ask us how they can strike the right tone in email marketing. Here are our tips on how to develop your nonprofit’s voice in your email campaigns:

Be a human, not a robot

Think about the emails you look forward to receiving, ones from friends, family, favorite coworkers. Nothing robotic about those, right? They’re full of personality. The same applies to your email campaigns. Put your nonprofit in the same camp with a personal tone and conversational voice.

Relationship > Transaction

Think about it. One-time donations are good, but ongoing gifts are better. One-time volunteers are good, but regular volunteers are better. Ultimately, you want to build lasting relationships with your advocates — and tone can make or break this. Like Mom always said, you’ll catch more bees with honey.

It’s not always an emergency

We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf. Nonprofits can fall victim to this too. It’s okay to be urgent or time-sensitive, but skip aggressive lingo. Too many false alarms and your advocates will stop paying attention. Save desperate, emergency-esque language for a real crisis.

Put yourself in their inbox

Writing something official on behalf of your nonprofit can feel like a lot of weight on your shoulders. But don’t get overwhelmed; remember, you’re communicating to people, and they want a human touch in their inbox. Knowing your audience, what matters most? What do they value? Then, edit as if you’re receiving the email. Revise your draft so it represents the brand of your organization.

Consider your content

Like a person’s voice, a great nonprofit brand voice stays consistent. Their tone of voice may change, but the words and phrases they use typically don’t. Adapt your tone to the message you want to communicate. Are you announcing something exciting, like a new team member? Then channel the fun side of your brand’s personality! Run-of-the-mill messages (think donation receipts or volunteer confirmations) call for a straightforward tone.

It’s the little things

Body copy and subject line may be what we spend most of our time on, but the subtle things can have a big impact. Preheader, images, headline and footer help set the tone. Preheader text is the first thing readers see in inboxes after the subject line — like a movie trailer, it is the teaser to your message, and you can inject more personality here to set the stage. Pro tip: Make sure it doesn’t say “Use this area to offer a short preview of your email’s content”! (You’re welcome.)

Fervor Email Image

This is a great place to start to inject a little brand personality.

Say it out loud

There’s no better way to review your organization’s voice than to hear it. Read your email out loud and really listen for the voice. What areas feel like your brand? What areas don’t? And even if you think you nailed it, ask another person to read the email aloud too. Voice is personal, and we all hear things a little differently. Pro tip: reading aloud helps you catch typos you may have missed.

Be yourself.

Growth is good! Experiment with your nonprofit’s communication style and try new approaches. At the same time, be true to who you are as an organization. Don’t force a joke, and steer clear of too much snark or too much sap. Your readers will notice if you’re trying to be something you’re not. As your brand evolves, your email marketing will too.

Stuck? We can help. At Fervor, we think a lot about what to say and how to say it best. Contact us today to chat about brand voice.