10 Tips for Email Writing


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10 Tips for Email Writing

  1. 1. 10 Tips of Email Writing
  2. 2. AcknowledgementsThis presentation was created by Lauren Miller in conjunction with New OrganizingInstitute.These new media materials have been developed over the course of many trainingsby Lola Elfman, Lauren Miller, Matt Compton, Ben Simon, Larry Huynh, Nate Thames,Becky Bond, Michael Silberman, Mia Cambronero, Adam Green, Jason Rosenbaum,Colin Holtz and many others. Restrictions of UseThe following work is provided to you pursuant to the following terms and conditions.Your use of these materials constitutes your acceptance of these terms:•  You may reproduce and distribute the work to others for free, but you may not sell the work to others.•  You may modify the work, provided that the attribution to the New Organizing Institute and the Author remain on the work.•  You shall include a copy of these restrictions with all copies of the work that you distribute and you shall inform everyone who uses the materials of this agreement.
  3. 3. What can email do for you? " Reach people quickly & cheaply " Activate people to take action " Enhance what you’re doing everywhere else
  4. 4. A few key principles" It’s about everything else you’re doing" It’s about story telling" It’s about number crunching
  5. 5. So how to I write an email?
  6. 6. Basic structure of an email "  1st sentence: Attention grabber "  Try to keep it to one sentence. One line if possible.
  7. 7. Basic structure of an email "  2nd paragraph: Summary. Why are you sending this email? "  Avoid too many facts, figures. That’s what the rest of the email is for.
  8. 8. Basic structure of an email "  3rd-4th paragraph: Take Action. "  What do you want people to do? "  What is the theory of change?
  9. 9. Basic structure of an email "  Links "  Stand-alone (separate from paragraphs) "  Should you hyperlink text or write out urls? It depends "  Don’t just use picture links
  10. 10. Basic structure of an email "  After the link "  2-4 more paragraphs with background info, quotes, bullets, etc. "  Repeat your theory of change, action, link
  11. 11. 10 tips for better emails
  12. 12. 1. Keep it short. "  People don’t want to read a long essay.
  13. 13. 2. Think about your subject line. "   Be concise (5-7 words) "   Grab attention, but don’t cry wolf "   Be creative "   Don’t be too wonky
  14. 14. Good Subject Lines "   Can I dial you in? (DCCC) "   For your eyes only (YES to Fairer Votes) "   I agree with George W. Bush (Howard Dean) "   Missing you (Kiva.org) "   We’re 54.7% sure… (Families USA) "   Spill baby spill (Brave New Films)
  15. 15. Bad Subject Lines "   The ____ Update "   June 2011 Newsletter "   Tell your Senators to vote no on S. 2191 "   Urgent FEC Deadline "   Maryland GOP Calls for End to New Poll Tex for Absentee Ballot Voters
  16. 16. 3. Keep it conversational. "  Snarky is ok. A formal letter isn’t. "  Have voices, personalities in your email.
  17. 17. 4. Never send an email without an action… All you can do is unsubscribe. "   Sign a petition "  Call Congress "   Write a letter "  Make a donation "   Tell a friend "  Share your story "   Watch a video "  Give us your "   Follow us on Facebook feedback or Twitter "  Attend an event
  18. 18. 4b …But don’t ask people to doa million things. "  Multiple actions confuse/ overwhelm "  Splits the returns of your actions "  Better solution: Segmentation & Daisy Chain
  19. 19. 5. Ask people what they want. "   Surveys are good for you and your list. "  Find out more about your list "  Solicit new ideas "  Make your members feel like they’re part of the team
  20. 20. 6. Treat new supporters differently. Make a good first impression. "   Send an intro message describing your org & what you’ll be asking them to do. "   Don’t ask for money – but don’t wait too long.
  21. 21. 7. Keep formatting simple. Use images sparingly. "   Compelling buttons can help action rates "   Most don’t matter "   Don’t hold up an email for an image "   Don’t make your whole email an image
  22. 22. 7. Keep formatting simple. Avoid fancy formatting. "   You are not writing direct mail "   Fancy formatting distracts from links
  23. 23. 8. Timing is everything. "  Sometimes it’s better to be the 1st than to be the best. "   General wisdom: Tuesday-Thursday late morning "   In reality: Whenever something urgent happens
  24. 24. 9. Checklist your emails. One bad mistake can ruin your email. "   Ask someone who didn’t write it to proofread it "   Ask someone to click every link & take every action
  25. 25. 10. Test & Segment Your emailsTests: Segments:"   Sender name/format "  Geography"   Subject lines "  Donation history"   Time of day "  Past actions taken"   Images (including "  Signup date headers) "  Whatever you’ve"   Length got"   Links"   Landing pages
  26. 26. Landing Pages
  27. 27. Landing Pages: Keep it simple. "   Make sure it’s clear what you want people to do "   Limit the number of: "   Distractions "   Fields "   Clicks
  28. 28. Landing Pages: Daisy Chain "   You don’t have to just send people to a “thank you” page "   Prioritize based on what you need most: "   Tell a friend "   Donate "   Events "   Other actions
  29. 29. Why plan emails?" To avoid the blinking cursor paralysis." To make them part of a larger campaign." To have more time to write better emails." To have get better content." To get something done!
  30. 30. 1. What are your goals?
  31. 31. 1. What are your goals?Online goals: Offline goals:" List growth? " Pass a bill?" Fundraising? " Save the…. (puppies, seals, unicorns)?" User generated content? " Events?" Twitter/facebook followers " Volunteers? " Press attention? " Drive a news story?
  32. 32. 2. What are your resources?
  33. 33. 2. What are your resources? " Email list? " Volunteers on the ground? " Friendly bloggers? An organizational blog? " A technology platform? " Allied organizations/partners? " Online advertising budget? " Video capabilities? " Other technology abilities?
  34. 34. 3. What are your key moments?
  35. 35. 3. What are your key moments: online and offline milestones? " Internal news " External news " Media " Personal stories " Holidays/Days of Importance " Other solicitations
  36. 36. Is this a long or short campaign?" Are there deadlines you must meet?" Moments along the way that you can highlight?
  37. 37. 4. What are your segments?
  38. 38. Do you need different emails for different people? " Action takers/non-action takers " Geography " Interest " How they joined the list " Donation history " Demographics " Superactivists vs. Lurkers
  39. 39. 4. What can people do to really help? What is your theory of change?
  40. 40. Get a grid.
  41. 41. Plug in your offline activities/ milestones as the base." Petition: When will you be delivering it?" Events: Should we invite them? Ask them to donate or share? What can people do if they can’t attend?" Videos/ads/offline materials: Can the list contribute content? Money? Share?" Reports/research: Can they comment? Debunk it? Share?
  42. 42. Fill in the rest." Kicker messages" Follow-up results messages" Donation messages" Other creative things you can give people to do
  43. 43. How much email is too much email? " How often do you have something urgent and meaningful to say? Quarterly Monthly Weekly Daily TYPICAL Almost Probably certainly too much too little Credit: Idealware
  44. 44. Sample Campaign:Debbie Shank has paid enough
  45. 45. Debbie Shank has paid enough" Goal: To stop a lawsuit." Resources: 100,000 person email list. Petition & Speakout technology. Contact with the family." Timing: Debbie’s well-being was in jeopardy" Segments: People who signed/didn’t sign petition; frequent letter-writers; Facebook followers" Theory of change: By shaming Wal-Mart, they’d drop the lawsuit.
  46. 46. What did we do?" Launched a petition (email and Facebook)" Wrote letters to Wal-Mart’s top management" Wrote to news outlets to cover the story
  47. 47. It worked.
  48. 48. It worked.Never let the grid stop you from taking advantage of key moments.
  49. 49. Thank You To: Lauren Millerlauren@bluestatedigital.com @laurenm www.neworganizing.com @neworganizing