Anatomy of an Effective Advocacy Email

by Carol Buckheit on June 18, 2012

Last week, I blogged on the anatomy of an effective fundraising email, but what about advocacy emails? Is there a different “email science” to crafting e-communications to ask for action rather than a donation?

Here’s what the 2012 eNonprofits Benchmark Study (M +R Strategic Services) had to say about the average response rates for nonprofit emails that ask supporters to take action:

Open rate: 14%
Click-through rate: 4.2%
Response rate (taking the primary action asked for in the email): 3.84%

So, if a nonprofit has 10,000 people on their email list, these data would translate to an average of 1,400 people opening the email, and 420 clicking a link to the desired action. In the end, an average of 384 would actually follow through and take action, in the form of signing a petition or emailing a policy maker.

I can’t blab on any more than I have in the past about the importance of taking concrete steps to growing one’s email list. So, let’s turn to how to craft an advocacy email that is likely to get your supporters wildly motivated to take action, with a peek at a recent email from Greenpeace:

Greenpeace Take Action Email

What’s good:

  • Subject line is enticing: “What’s in KFC’s secret recipe?”
  • Copy is edgy and provocative
  • Graphic on right sidebar is eye-catching and fun, and “Take Action” button is vivid. I’m betting that that graphic and button got the most  clicks for this email.
  • Goal is clear: 50,000 messages to KFC
  • Sense of urgency: Clear timeline for action (72 hours), and reader must act “before it’s too late.”
  • There are 4 links for the desired action
  • The problem is stated immediately in the first two sentences
  • Paragraphs are short and key action steps are in bold
  • After one submits their letter to KFC, a final screen pops up (below) asking them to share the petition with friends via email and social media channels. They even prep the tweet and Facebook post, so all one has to do is hit a button to share.
Share this: Greenpeace
Greenpeace nails it.
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