Day 1: Understand how emails fit into your overall marketing strategy

Before we can ever hit that SEND button, we have to make sure we are using email marketing as a part of an overall communications strategy. Now, don’t let that scare you! It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just means that we don’t want to go emailing all the people when we don’t really have a plan about what we’re trying to say, who we’re talking to, or what we want to accomplish in the long-term. If we dive in and start sending emails before we’re ready, one of these dreaded scenarios is likely to happen:

  • They are never going to open the email you spent hours writing

  • They are going to click that Unsubscribe option you are required to include

  • They are going to report your email as spam

So what should you do to avoid any of these actually happening?

  1. Create a simple plan that lists all of the ways you are going to communicate with your people in the next three months - keeping the timeframe short will help you avoid the overwhelm factor. (If you already have a marketing plan, give yourself a round of applause and skip to step 2.)

  2. Think about when sending an email to complement one or more of those efforts might make the most sense.

    • Could it reinforce a message you delivered via direct mail?

    • Could it point people to something new that you’re doing online?

  3. Ask yourself how adding an email message to the mix will benefit the person reading it. The last thing we want to do is send an email just because we think we should. Every message we send should bring additional value to the recipient.

Today's 5-minute task

Scan your inbox and notice: What kind of emails do you have from businesses or nonprofits? Are they global/national? Local? Do you feel differently about receving email from people you regularly interact with? Use your action guide to reflect on this for a few minutes! We'll use those notes later this week to help you plan your own emails.

Once you have a plan to incorporate email into your larger communications goals, you’ll be able to see more clearly how those emails are going to benefit your customers or donors.

Emails are most effective when we use them alongside our other efforts and send them for a specific reason and to a specific audience. Email is rarely ever a standalone tool in our toolbox.

In tomorrow’s lesson, we’ll talk about how to determine who should be on your email list and what to do if you don’t have as many email addresses as you’d like!

Remember to comment on the course homepage about today’s takeaway or what you’re hoping to learn this week! And, to complete your 5-minute task! Have questions about today’s lesson? Email me at

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Andrea Shirey