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How to Write an Email

How to Write an Email. Hi, I’m Lauren. I write email. What can email do for you?. Reach people quickly & cheaply Activate people to take action Enhance what you’re doing everywhere else. A few key principles. It’s about everything else you’re doing It’s about story telling

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How to Write an Email

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  1. How to Write an Email

  2. Hi, I’m Lauren. I write email.

  3. What can email do for you? • Reach people quickly & cheaply • Activate people to take action • Enhance what you’re doing everywhere else

  4. A few key principles • It’s about everything else you’re doing • It’s about story telling • It’s about number crunching

  5. So how to I write an email?

  6. Basic structure of an email • 1st sentence: Attention grabber • Try to keep it to one sentence. One line if possible.

  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. Basic structure of an email • 3rd-4th paragraph: Take Action. • What do you want people to do? • What is the theory of change?

  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. 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. 10 tips for better emails

  12. 1. Keep it short. • People don’t want to read a long essay.

  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. 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. 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. 3. Keep it conversational. • Snarky is ok. A formal letter isn’t. • Have voices, personalities in your email.

  17. 4. Never send an email without an action… • All you can do is unsubscribe. • Sign a petition • Write a letter • Tell a friend • Watch a video • Follow us on Facebook or Twitter • Call Congress • Make a donation • Share your story • Give us your feedback • Attend an event

  18. 4b …But don’t ask people to do a million things. • Multiple actions confuse/overwhelm • Splits the returns of your actions • Better solution: Segmentation & Daisy Chain

  19. 5. Ask people what they want. • Find out more about your list • Solicit new ideas • Make your members feel like they’re part of the team • Surveys are good for you and your list.

  20. 6. Treat new supporters differently. • 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. • Make a good first impression.

  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. 7. Keep formatting simple. • Avoid fancy formatting. • You are not writing direct mail • Fancy formatting distracts from links

  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. 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. 10. Test & Segment Your emails Tests: • Sender name/format • Subject lines • Time of day • Images (including headers) • Length • Links • Landing pages Segments: • Geography • Donation history • Past actions taken • Signup date • Whatever you’ve got

  26. Landing Pages

  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. 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. Wal-Mart wants to build its first store in Washington DC. A store in DC would hurt local businesses. Wal-Mart underpays its employees and doesn’t provide adequate health care. Write an email to a local coalition email list, encouraging them to sign a petition against the new Wal-Mart. It will be delivered to the next city council meeting. Writing Workshop

  30. How to Plan a Calendar

  31. Why plan emails? • To avoid the blank page/blinking cursor problem. • 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!

  32. 1. What are you trying to do?

  33. What is your goal(s)? Online goals: • List growth? • Fundraising? • User generated content? • Twitter/facebook followers Offline goals: • Pass a bill? • Save the (puppies, seals, unicorns)? • Events? • Volunteers? • Press attention? • Drive a news story?

  34. 2. What do you have to do it?

  35. 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?

  36. 3. What are your key moments?

  37. What are your online and offline milestones? • Internal news • External news • Media • Personal stories • Holidays/Days of Importance • Other solicitations

  38. Is this a long or short campaign? • Are there deadlines you must meet? • Moments along the way that you can highlight?

  39. 4. What are your segments?

  40. 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

  41. 4. What can people do to really help? What is your theory of change?

  42. Get a grid.

  43. 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?

  44. Fill in the rest. • Kicker messages • Follow-up results messages • Donation messages • Other creative things you can give people to do

  45. Quarterly Weekly Daily Monthly TYPICAL Probably too much Almost certainly too little How much email is too much email? • How often do you have something urgent and meaningful to say? • Credit: Idealware

  46. Sample Campaign: Debbie Shank has paid enough

  47. 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.

  48. 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

  49. It worked.

  50. Thanks! Questions? @laurenm www.neworganizing.com @neworganizing

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