9 Support Email Newsletter Blunders

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The wonderful thing about life is it provides an opportunity to learn! The funny thing about it is that a lot of those opportunities came by the way of mistakes made.

Throughout my 10 years of support raising as a missionary, I feel like I tried it all. Every idea, concoction, and new trick to make email communication more effective. I.e. more support and happy supporters. I learned a lot, but mostly I figured out several things not to do!

In failure opportunity knocked. I became obsessed with figuring out email marketing. Thus begins a saga of helping people create a connection through authentic email communication.

Learn from my mistakes and avoid these 9 blunders of email marketing…

Writing newsletters in a state of panic

Sometimes you start writing in a frantic panic or overwhelming stress because you need more money and you needed now! Speaking from this frame mind communicates begging; the very thing we all loathe to be doing. You may think you’re simply asking, but the spirit of neediness comes bleeding through every word, tainting your wonderfully persuasive words with discolored gunk. Squash the needy mindset and go in knowing you are completing a God-given mission! Your cause cannot be held back.

Being on the losing team

We all know crap happens and things can get insanely difficult. Your list is full of real people who have experienced challenging times too. Do not be all “woe is me, life is soooo hard in this country. Things are not going as planned. Please send me your sympathy.” Such letters cause the reader to think, “if you’re so miserable, please give up and go home.” Rather than venting your frustrations to everyone, contact a close friend or pastor and get prayer. Share your deepest struggles with intimate circles. Complaining to everyone will NOT compel people to support you. It will do just the opposite, pushing people away, causing them to delete future emails without even reading them. No one wants to partner with the losing team. People want to invest in a team which is winning.

Not being honest…

I know, I just said not to share everything with everyone, but your difficulties are part of the real battle. If you only share the roses, you look like a vagabond on vacation. Your partners want to hear your reality. Share the challenges you have faced and overcome. Let them in on the testimonies of what God has brought you through. Share the reasons why you are going to continue to preserve, no matter what comes your way. Your Mission is important, this cause will overcome. Be a real person!

Adding everyone to your mailing list

Another mistake I made was seeing everyone I met as a possible giver. I managed to build a big mailing list, by doing all the wrong things. I pulled email address from Facebook, twitter, church directories, or anywhere else I could find them. I did this before there were anti spam laws. But now sending mass emails get flagged as spam and go straight into people’s junk mail.

Not allow people to opt-in to your mailing list…

Sure, if you say “let me know if you would like to receive my newsletter” you will probably only receive a few responses. But those few, are people who actually want to hear about what you are doing. Someone who requests to be on your mailing list is far more likely actually read your e-mails, and support you in prayer and/or finances

Not growing your list.

If you think a list of 1000 people is going to bring new donors around to make up for the increased cost of living as your family grows, then you are mistaken. I thought if I bombard people with my message enough, someone will come around. To my dismay, as supporters left my team for various reasons (going back to school or lost their job), no one stepped up to fill their spot. This was because I didn’t populate my list with new folks who were actually excited to partner with our mission.

Not practicing list hygiene…

People sometimes stop paying attention to our newsletters or delete them without even reading them. It no longer speaks to them, yet we keep on sending emails to everybody. There are many things you can practice to get these folks re-engaged, but sometimes you need to clean your list to prevent getting spammer points. Use an email service like MailChimp which allows people to opt-out of your list by clicking “unsubscribe.”

Not knowing why people join your team…

If someone starts supporting you, find out what compelled them. It’s ok to ask. You may be surprised to find people are giving to you, not because of your great newsletters, or the ministry you are a part of. Most people choose to support someone they know personally and believe is worth investing in regardless of which country you are in or what ministry you are serving with.
One family joined our support team, because of back when my wife was a teenager, she babysat for their family. She was their only babysitter who also washed the dishes! Who would have guessed my wife’s small act of service would later compel someone to faithfully mail a check every month for over 7 years!

Not keeping in touch with donors individually

If people give to your mission, that means they are really in this with you. Maintaining support can feel like hard work, But most importantly, we must remember, we are creating partners. Partners are not just donors, they are on the mission with you. Just as you sometimes need to receive ministry yourself, your partners need to be ministered to as well. Your partners see you as someone who loves to minister to people, and they would love for you to minister to them as well. We are a body. Build a team around you, who is excited to be in relationship to you.

Have you learned mistakes about emailing the hard way? What lesson have you learned? Share in the comments below!

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