This is part 1 of the Data and Your Audience Guide. Want to download the entire ebook, “Decoding Audience Data to Optimize Your Reach”  CLICK HERE!

This isn’t about making pretty, branded emails. Yes, you can do that in Gmail. This is about reaching and engaging with your key supporters, increasing participation with your volunteers, and securing more generous gifts from your donors.

So many nonprofits are already heavily immersed in the email marketing game. But if you’re one of the many who aren’t, it’s time for you to make it a priority. And here’s why:

  1. You can personalize your audience members’ individual experiences with your brand. Through audience segmentation, targeting tools, and analytics that help you change course or take action as a communicator, you can really figure out what your audience wants from you and what resonates more.
  2. You can create a more agile approach to how you reach your audience. Whether you’re communicating about an event, an upcoming fundraising campaign, or even a job opening at your nonprofit, you can use the tools that auto-generate messages, and segment and track your audiences to make more informed decisions.
  3. You can evolve right along with your email marketing platform. Email Marketing software companies know that the competition is fierce, so they’re constantly updating their platforms to be BETTER FOR YOU. New data segments, new design options, even new file storage and hosting options will continue to sharpen your email marketing game for years to come.

Okay, so you know WHY you need an email marketing system. But WHICH ONE should you pick?

You should 100 percent take advantage of free trials, demos, and marketing videos for as many email marketing systems as possible before you make your final decision. Each system will have the same general functionalities, but the bells and whistles that come with particular versions will vary across the board. To get you started, here are a few of my favorites:

MailChimp. If this list were ranked, MailChimp deserves to be at the top, in my humble opinion. Here’s why:

  • Pretty robust free account if you’re just getting started or have a small contact list
  • A 15% discount to nonprofits. You can check out MailChimp packages and pricing here
  • Super easy point-and-click email templates
  • In-product photo editing tools
  • Audience “Tags” that allow you to segment your audience so you don’t duplicate your contacts
  • Easy-to-understand analytics
  • Tons of app integrations so you can automate capturing donor information, landing pages, website views, workflow, campaigns, events, social media…basically everything. If you’re curious, you can check out their robust list of integrations here.

Campaign Monitor. Another nonprofit discount offerer, so you know I’m on board. Here are a few other cool features:

  • Beautiful templates and point-and-click email design
  • My personal favorite – the ability to insert (and remove) dynamic content in the email builder
  • Real humans to help you onboard to the platform, and consult and assist you as you get going.
  • Though they offer a 15% discount to nonprofits, it’s one of the most expensive in the crowd. But if that isn’t as big of a concern to you, you can check out your pricing options here

Constant Contact. I will start this off by saying that I am not a big fan of Constant Contact. I always found it a bit clunky and buggy, but perhaps others have had a different experience. Here are some of its notable features:

  • Over 400 templates to choose from, but also the ability to code your own if you so desire
  • Plug-ins for WordPress and Facebook that allow people to sign up for emails directly from your pages
  • Good analytics that are presented intuitively
  • MAJOR con: No free version (only a free trial) 

This list is not inclusive of all the options out there, so we encourage you to do your research and determine what features are most important to your organization. PCMag’s Top-10 list is a great place to see some more robust reviews and analysis on some of the best platforms out there.


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