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Email Broadcasting Trends Report

Posted by Sam Knox at Aug 25, 2010 |

In July 2010, Groundwire surveyed its clients and followers to determine what common email broadcasting trends are present in the environmental nonprofit sector.

Email Broadcasting Trends Report

In July 2010, Groundwire surveyed its clients and followers to determine what common email broadcasting trends are present in the environmental nonprofit sector.

As promised, here are the results and a short analysis of the responses we received. Thanks to all of you who responded to this survey!

Time Investment

Like anything worth doing, good email communications programs take a fair bit of time to execute well. Preparation of content and troubleshooting of formatting problems are the two major contributors to the time crunch.

On average it takes 3 people 5.9 hours to create, test, and deliver 4 email messages per month to a list of about 6300 subscribers. Therefore, in general, expect to spend about 23.6 hours per month running your email communications program.

It's also worth mentioning how much time survey responders felt they were allowed to take for preparing and sending email. We asked how strongly do you agree with this statement: "In general, do you feel that you are given adequate time in your job role to prepare and send email communication". The responses were:

  • Strongly Agree - 31.9%
  • Agree Somewhat - 41.5%
  • Disagree Somewhat - 17.0%
  • Strongly Disagree - 9.6%

Some of the optional responses to this question are quite interesting. Here are a sampling of those responses:

Impact of email marketing not given high enough value internally, despite being the channel with far and away the highest ROI.
The problem isn't total time, it's the "rush jobs" ("need it done today") with no notice or advance planning
We have made sending out our e-newsletter a communications priority. As such, we have a lot of organizational support for producing a high quality product. To streamline our process, we profile content that is on our website, then drive people to the website, significantly reducing the time spent on the e-newsletter
I HATE the formatting glitchiness of our email template, which has degraded over time -- it doubles the length of time it takes to prepare the send.



The majority of responders (66%) said that formatting the email properly was the biggest problem they faced when trying to get an email newsletter or alert out the door. Many layout problems can only be solved through analyzing the underlying HTML or through lots of trial and error. A solid understanding of HTML is an essential skill for successful email communication.

The second major blocker on email was simply getting the content written (35%). Content (especially quality content) takes time to develop. It's part of the cost of doing business and is fundamental to being successful online. Hire a staff writer or allocate the responsibility to someone who shows writing talent on staff and you'll see the benefits of good copy working for you.

Other major problems mentioned by survey responders were:

  • Difficulty working with the email platform
  • Reaching consensus internally on email message, timing and tone
  • Deliverability problems

Service Providers

Here is a list of the top 4 service providers the responders said they are using:

  • VerticalResponse
  • ConstantContact
  • CampaignMonitor
  • WhatCounts

Emma, Convio, Sympa, MailChimp, and plain old mass emailing from Outlook were also indicated by small portions of the survey responders.

Benefits of Email Communication

The final question in the survey asked responders to list some of the benefits of having an email communication program. The question as stated was - "What are the most important benefits of mass email to your organization? What goal(s) does it help you accomplish?"

Common responses were

  • Communication with supporters/members and donors
  • Getting the word out on programs and events
  • Easy method to deliver important messages
  • Driving traffic to the website
  • Fundraising

Here are a couple of select quotes from responses to the above question:

The benefits are great - it allows me to directly reach the segment of our audience specifically interested in my program area, and have a regular way to give them more in-depth information and opportunities.
Helps us stay fresh on the minds of our supporters, and helps them feel more connected to the organization
Many people who register for our educational programs say they decided to call/register because emails from us reminded them.

Survey Details

We emailed the survey link to people on our general mailing list which is composed of past and future clients as well as many others who are interested in following our work. We received approximately 100 responses.

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