Five email automation mistakes and how to avoid them

Elizabeth Carter, manager of Charity Digital’s Charity Digital Mail email marketing service, looks at the five most common mistakes that make people unsubscribe from your charity emails.

Guest Writer | 30th Nov 18
Image shows a person reading their emails on a laptop.

Successful charity email marketing automation is all about sending the right message to the right person at the right time. But your subscriber’s inbox will be full of emails jostling for their attention – get one element wrong and you can easily put them off from wanting to hear more from you.

Here are five common mistakes that charities make when planning their email marketing automation, and how to avoid them.


1- Forgetting a welcome email

If you are not immediately sending a welcome email after a sign up, you are missing out on a golden opportunity.

This email will be by far the first most important email you send to your subscribers as you’re giving them a great first impression at the point when your readers are most engaged with your charity.

The ideal welcome email should:

  1. Welcome your subscriber.
  2. Introduce the reader to the organisation and its mission.
  3. Explain what your subscriber will expect to receive from now on.


2- Not using the appropriate tone

All audiences want authenticity and your automated emails have to sound natural, flowing and not robotic. Your automated messages for repetitive tasks need to seem human and personalised, so it appears that you have created each individual message.

Refresh the first email content written. The first set of your campaigns will probably need to be edited and updated as time goes on.

Analyse the messaging and ask yourself which emails are being opened and when and, bearing this in mind, if the emails should be adjusted.

Have a clear call to action in your emails, and focus your email’s text, images, and design to guide your readers toward this outcome and according to their behaviour.


3- Failing to plan appropriately

Planning automation takes time and effort so don’t think a good job can be done in a jiffy. You need to have an objective and balance both your short-term and long-term goals.

Your workflow automated emails need to be mapped and thought out carefully. You need to plan what you want the condition to be for the action to trigger an email to go out, and what responses they will receive when your subscribers interact with your emails.

Plan carefully how you will add in more subscribers and how long the automation should last, how they behaviour with your emails will change the direction of their own email journey and how their automation journey will end.

Dedicate time to find out who is clicking on which link and engage fully by incorporating automated decision points, and take your subscribers down different journeys.


4- Not meeting your subscribers’ expectations

Sending emails strategically isn’t about guesswork. You need to pay attention to your target audience, analyse your automated emails and view where they are dropping out of the journey.

Listen to your subscribers’ choices and offer options that cater to them by using a preference centre. Once you start collecting their preferences, you can easily break your list into segments and use automation to follow-through, delivering exactly what your clients, supporters and donors would like to hear about.

If you have advised you will email weekly, make sure you don’t use automation to email them on a more frequent basis.


5- Setting up your emails and then forgetting about them

Just like any other tool you’re using, the more you put into automation, the more you’ll get out of it. So, instead of setting up a marketing automation campaign and moving on, you need to dedicate the time to analyse and optimise your campaigns.

This involves reviewing open rates, click-throughs, and unsubscribes. Use this as experience for what is working well, what needs to continue, to be repeated and what automation needs to cease.


Want low-cost email automation, with tailored support specifically for charities? Charity Digital Mail is offering 5,000 emails free in our new Christmas offer. Visit the Charity Digital Mail website to find out more.