5 Proven Tips for Building Your Nonprofit’s Email List (via Blackbaud’s NetWitsThinkTank)

Social media is talked about so much that you probably think every other form of communication is dead (Ok, maybe your thinking isn’t that extreme).

But that’s not the case.

In fact, email is still the number-one way to connect with your supporters. Earning the right to deliver content directly to the inbox of your biggest fans is critical to your long term success.

With that in mind we thought we’d share a few suggestions for getting visitors to subscribe to your email list:

1. Location, Location, Location

In other words, put it where it can easily be found, preferably above the fold. Clearly marked. With a call to action.

If visitors have to search around the tabs on your site, they may never find your listserve sign up. The fewer clicks you put between you and a potential subscriber, the better.

Join Our Newsletter is displayed first, followed by links to social media accounts on the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum website.

Long Island Children’s Museum has “Join Our Email List” at the top of their website.

Placement really tells your visitor what you want them to do once they hit your site.

If you have a link to your Facebook and Twitter at the top of your homepage and your listserve at the bottom, it implies that you prefer to interact with your audience on your social media sites.

If you want to build your list, make sure it has priority on your page.


2. Require Minimal Information

I hate to say it, but when a signup form makes my address and phone number a required field, I’m really hesitant to sign up. I did on a couple sites – with my work address and phone number – but normally, I would have opted to just check your site from time to time.

Harbor History Museum asks for only the basics.

3. Include Links to Your Social Media Accounts

When you have a specific area on your website to connect with your users, be sure to include your email list there. If you have a link to your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Flickr, and YouTube, but not your email signup, your visitors may assume you don’t have a list to join.

Portland Museum of Art groups their E-newsletter with links to their social media accounts.

4. Add it to your Facebook Apps

Facebook has that nifty little app section at the top – right under the big cover photo, over to the right. Include your events, photos, maps, twitter link, polls, and of course, your email list. You might even want your email sign up app to be the first one they see.


5. RSS as a Replacement

If you don’t have the ability to let people subscribe to your email list online they you’re in trouble. If I were you I’d go solve that problem before I did anything else.

But for those who just cant make the email list happen there is another (less effective) alternative.

Enable RSS so visitors can keep up with your blog activity with Google Reader (my preference). Personally, this is my main way to keep up with my favorite blogs and websites.

Subscribe to posts and/or comments on the Tenement Museum blog.

Join the conversation! How do you drive visitors to sign up for your email list? Do you still see value in email addresses or are you more focused on blog subscribers or social media fans and followers?

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