Power in your e-mail signature and auto-responder

Two often-overlooked tools are available through e-mail to communicate effectively and persuasively to donors. And they’re free.

One is the auto-responder feature. You’ve seen them a thousand times: “So-and-so is out of the office and will return on such-and-such date. She will return your message at that time.” Boring, right?

Nancy Schwartz has a better idea, as reported in her blog Getting Attention. Why not write something like this when you are away, as Molly Thompson of Pillsbury United Communities did:

“Thank you for your email. On Sunday, May 22, 2011, an EF1 tornado ripped through the streets of north Minneapolis, damaging homes and businesses. Many of our neighbors were directly impacted by the storm, as was Pillsbury United Communities.

“We have responded to this crisis as we always have with time, energy, resources, ingenuity, and community support. Recovering from this tragedy will take both time and effort. For more information on how to help or to make a tax-deductible donation to assist in the recovery efforts, please visit http://www.puc-mn.org/TornadoReliefEffort.aspx.”

That’s a “creative, engaging and mission-driven use of an email auto-responder (what you set up in your email program when you’re away or otherwise unable to reply in a timely manner)” and “a strategic marketing tactic,” Nancy writes.

Another useful tool is your e-mail signature. It can pack some powerful marketing support for you and your organization. Nancy suggests that your signature should include:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Organization
  • Phone number
  • Web address

Optional items:

  • Tagline
  • Social media links
  • Graphical element to separate signature from rest of message
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