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Email Marketing for Animal Shelters: 101

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Michelle Fournier

Turns out, rumors stating email marketing is dead are proving to be greatly exaggerated. In fact, when done correctly, an email marketing campaign will greatly contribute to the overall success of your shelter.

68% of Millennials, the largest pet owning generation, indicate emails have directly influenced their purchase decisions in many industries. Additionally, recent data from HubSpot showed that 99% of people check their email daily with a majority, 58%, of those participating in the survey,  stating that email is the preferred way to receive information.

It can be overwhelming to kick-off an email marketing campaign if you haven’t yet implemented one. Beefing up an existing campaign can be equally as daunting. We’ve curated some tips to get you started, or to re-motivate you and get you engaging with your loyal, loving, passionate, audience.

Set it Up:

Select a platform - There are a lot of options out there, so if you haven’t already selected an email platform, determine your needs and what features are most important. From basic email programs with simple design and easy to plug in content, to more robust offerings, think about where you are, and where you want the be, and choose accordingly. Some popular options include: GetResponse, Active Campaign, Mail Chimp, and Constant Contact.

Collect and build your email list -  Your email list is one of the most valuable assets you have. Be sure to keep your email database pipeline full with current, accurate contacts. Always be focused on collecting new data through engagement on your website as well as through social media lead generating ads and contact forms.

Start with Welcome - Every email subscription should be met with a personalized and grateful “Welcome” note. Be sure to thank your subscriber for becoming part of your community and let them know what information they can look forward to and how often.

Monthly Newsletter - A great way to stay relevant and in front of your customers, a monthly newsletter can be an important foundational piece of your marketing program. Your shelter advocates have signed up to be included, they value your content, and want to hear from you. Create a compelling monthly, newsletter with a clear “Call to Action” (CTA) such as “Donate Now”, “Inquire About Fostering”, or “Volunteer”.

 
Email print blog post adopets-1Pro Tips:
 
Now that you have your foundation built, some pro tips to get your campaign moving. 
Brevity and Design - Understanding that the majority of your recipients will be reading their emails on their mobile devices, be sure to keep your email copy short, and your design simple. You don't want your message, news update or ask to get diluted with to many words or busy imagery. 

Use Images and Video - There is no better subject than animals, they immediately generate a visceral response in the reader.  As a shelter teeming with beautiful, adoptable pets in search of their forever homes, there is an abundance of "stars" to choose from.  The best part is, you don't need a professional production crew, a simple smart phone will do wonders for both still image and video content.

Subject Lines - As we’ve talked about before, Language Matters! Be obvious about your content but be creative as open rates are directly tied to inspiring subject lines. Try personalization, breaking news | event updates, or instill a sense of curiosity and watch your open rates soar.

Set a schedule - Consistency is key to a successful email campaign, and finding the  balance in a consistent schedule is imperative. What you want to avoid is a stop and start nature of an email program, so be sure you create a schedule you can commit to. 

Avoid falling into spam - Give your username and email address consideration, after building out your beautiful campaign to use a generic info@shelter email address and get filtered into spam would be such a shame. 

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