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Email Campaign Tips: Mobilizing Supporters in Their Inboxes

The title of the article next to a photo of hands on a laptop sending email.

Parks and recreation organizations rely on supporters to help fund their operations, assist with community events, and advocate for the protection of public spaces. When your organization needs supporters to act, whether by signing a petition or volunteering for a park clean-up event, email is likely the first channel you turn to. 

However, crowded inboxes full of promotional emails mean that you need a carefully crafted email marketing strategy to get supporters’ attention and inspire them to act. These strategies will help you design email campaigns that stand out so you can mobilize more supporters for your cause.

1. Segment Your Audience

Before you create your next email campaign, compile a targeted list of contacts you want to reach out to. Include existing donors, volunteers, community members, and other potential supporters who’ve shown an interest in your organization.

Then, use your database or parks and recreation platform to divide contacts into groups based on their relationship with your organization and other shared characteristics. Start with a few basic segments, such as:

  • One-time donors
  • Recurring donors
  • Frequent volunteers
  • Community members who’ve attended events
  • Supporters who’ve engaged with your advocacy initiatives

Engage and mobilize each group of supporters by writing emails that appeal to their motivations and history with your organization. For donors, express your gratitude for their past contributions and emphasize the additional impact they can make by continuing their support. You may use a friendlier, casual tone with regular volunteers, while you speak more urgently and professionally to those who engage in advocacy. 

2. Develop a Thoughtful Email Series

Once you know who your target audience is and how to appeal to them, plan a series of emails that work together to guide supporters toward taking action. Your email series should give recipients a variety of reasons to support your cause and naturally lead up to a final appeal.

For instance, say that you’re designing an email campaign around National Parks and Recreation Month. Your goal is to educate community members about the history and value of your local parks and encourage them to attend events, get involved, or offer financial support. With these goals in mind, you might plan to send the following emails:

  1. An announcement email on July 1st. This short email lets supporters know about the observance and announces that you’ll be sending special emails throughout July to honor the month.
  2. An educational email highlighting your local parks’ history during the first week. This longer email includes several links to blog posts and other resources that community members can explore to deepen their connection to your organization. 
  3. A list of upcoming events at the end of the second week. Share your organization’s calendar for the coming months, highlighting all of the ways supporters can participate. Include links to sign up, buy tickets, or volunteer for each event.
  4. A personalized invitation to get involved during week three. In this email, send each of your supporter segments a tailored invitation to get involved with your organization in a way that will appeal to them. For instance, invite frequent event attendees to try volunteering at an event they’ve attended in the past.
  5. A thank-you email on July 31st. Thank your contacts for their continuous support of your organization, even if they haven’t taken any action during this email campaign. 

Each email in your series should serve a distinct purpose and fit naturally with the emails before and after it. If you’re not sure if an email series is cohesive or inspiring enough, test it out with a small group of supporters and make adjustments before sending it to your entire support base.

3. Write Direct Subject Lines that Grab Readers’ Attention

On average, 64% of recipients choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone. This fact underscores the importance of crafting attention-grabbing subject lines that entice recipients to open your emails and read your appeals.

To stand out in crowded inboxes, use direct language that conveys urgency and helps readers instantly understand what the message is about. Keep subject lines relatively short (around 60 characters), and consider including emojis and recipient names in your subject lines to make them more personal when appropriate.

For example, if you’re sending an email calling for skills-based volunteers to lead short classes at an environmental summer camp, you might write a subject line that reads: Camp Volunteers Needed 🌳 Have environmental science knowledge to share?

4. Hone Your Calls to Action

As mentioned above, every email you send should have a clear purpose. Clarify the specific action you want readers to take after reading each message, such as volunteering, donating, signing a petition, or inviting a friend to your upcoming event. 

Once you’ve determined what action you want recipients to take, end each email with a direct call to action (CTA) that inspires readers to support your organization. Whether your CTAs are graphics, buttons, or bolded lines of text, each one should be:

  • Concise: Use as few words as possible to convey the action you want readers to take. Even if a reader skims the content of your email, a concise CTA will help them quickly understand what you’re asking them to do.
  • Transparent: Be straightforward about where a link will take supporters when they click on it. Instead of “Support Henderson Park,” for instance, opt for “Donate to Henderson Park” or “Share the Henderson Park story.”
  • Empowering: Compelling CTAs draw readers in by showing them how they can personally make an impact on your organization. Use inclusive, positive phrases like “Join us at the park” or “Help make a difference” to inspire supporters.

Additionally, your CTAs should lead readers to a place where they can easily and quickly follow through with the action. 

If the action is highly specific, like signing up for next weekend’s event, link the CTA directly to the event registration form. For broader CTAs that invite readers to learn more or get involved more generally, you might get inspired by political campaign strategies and lead readers to a “Take Action” page on your website. On this page, list out the ways supporters can get involved so they can choose the action most suited to them.

While email is an effective platform for inspiring supporters to get involved, it should only be one part of your communications strategy. To access a wider audience, incorporate emails into a multichannel approach that also includes social media posts, text messages, and other channels relevant to your supporters.