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Email marketing

Email is one of the most efficient, easily measurable and cost effective forms of marketing available to a support organisation or small charity. The principles of solid email marketing are similar in many respects to those covered in sections covering data management and direct mail.

An email campaign is only as good as the quality of data that underpins. That means a list of relevant, up-to-date email addresses of people who have opted to receive emails from your organisation. If you don’t get the planning right it can be a minefield – for example, you need to be very careful indeed about sending unsolicited emails to individuals (i.e. not businesses) – as this is now illegal in the UK.

The law

As long as you’re sending unoffensive material with a clear opt-out or unsubscribe option, you should be ok. However, it’s better not to take that risk.

The EU Directive (Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, 2002) is still in the process of being implemented by member states. But the UK implemented its own interpretation of the Directive in December 2003:

  • You must not conceal or attempt to hide the identity of the sender and must include a valid email address to which recipients can contact and request removal.
  • Make sure that you include a valid email address in the message and requests received through it must be actioned.
  • You should not send marketing emails to consumers (individuals) “unless the prior consent of the addressee has been obtained (opt-in).” An exception to this is where email addresses were obtained through a prior sales transaction or significant sales negotiations.

The principles of good email marketing

Do it yourself?

If you’re looking to communicate on a regular basis with a known group of stakeholders, email is tailor-made for the purpose - and it’s very cost effective because you can manage it yourself.

If you’re looking to use email marketing to raise awareness with new stakeholders, with all the issues that entails – it may well be sensible to use a professional mailshot company or consultant to manage, distribute, measure and even provide the creative for email campaigns.

Charity Email provide simple content management systems to create your own simple, stylised emails in-house.

Occam provide digital marketing strategies for the third sector, as well as a wealth of free content and advice – including white papers.

E-shot is good starting point for off-the-shelf packages.

Marketing File is one of the best sources of opt-in email data in the UK.

The Direct Marketing Association blog is an excellent source of first-hand knowledge and experience of email marketing tactics and strategies.