Why This Appeal Email Failed

Do you know why half of the emails (OK, maybe more than half – maybe 99%) of emails sent out from charity bodies or NGOs get deleted even before they get forwarded?

piggy bank photo

Reasons People Don’t Read Your Emails

It’s because (drum roll people and let’s get the answers):

…they’re badly written.

…the emails are a bunch of confusing words strung together. Some words are pretty bombastic.

…the emails ramble on and on and never get to the point (look, we all have 100 emails vying for our attention daily so let’s cut to the quick, shall we?)

…the emails are self-serving and don’t tell the reader what it needs and why.

…the emails are full of so much fluff and not enough substance (a result of not understanding what you write before you start writing it!)

Pander To Me Please

I could go on and on but the key thing is this – if you are sending out an email to ask people to help you or give you money or help pass it along or help you in anyway, make sure you pander to the recipient.

Yes, pander to the recipient.

The recipient of your email is pretty much like you – not enough time, can’t stand looking at too many words in an email (they roll their eyes a lot) and really, won’t help unless it serves them well.

Example of An Email No one Reads

Here’s an example of what NOT to write if you ever want someone to sponsor your organisation. (I’ve deleted the names to protect the privacy of this person but it’s a real email which I received.)

———– ———-

From: Cathy J.

Date: Mon, May 11, 2010 at 7:45 AM

Subject: Sponsorship for College Graduation Events

Dear Sir/Madam:

MM* College has been established for 12 years and is
one of the medical schools worldwide, to offer a twinning programme
with the Irish Medical Colleges of the National University of Ireland
(NUI); the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University
College Dublin (UCD). MM* is listed in the world directory of medical
schools published by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as
the International Medical Education Directory (IMED).

With reference to the above, we are currently producing our 10th batch
of MM Graduates this June. In conjunction with graduation, we
are currently organizing a Graduation Ball and Graduation Yearbook for
the respective students of Class 2010. Details of Graduation Ball 2010
as below:

Date: 17th of June 2010 (Friday)

Time: 6.00pm to 11.30pm

Venue: XYZ Hotel, KL

Thank you for your time and kind consideration in the above matter. We
sincerely hope that you will support us in our endeavours and make
Graduation Ball and the Yearbook a memorable one for all the students.

Hope to get a favorable reply from you before June 1st 2010. Do not
hesitate to contact me if you have any further enquiries.

Best wishes and finest regards,

Cathy

Public Relations Officer

MM College Students’ Association

———– ———-

After reading the above, as my thesis supervisor, Dr Gitu would say, “Who cares?” (I loved his wit and sarcasm. Dr Gitu had eyes which could bore through you and make you tremble like a flea.)

The thing is, would YOU take out an advertisement or sponsor the yearbook or graduation ball if you read this email?

Hell no!

You know why?

Cathy didn’t even TELL the reader what to do. Read her sentence again.

“We sincerely hope that you will support us in our endeavours and make Graduation Ball and the Yearbook a memorable one for all the students.”

How do I support you? What do I do next?

Why This Email Failed

Most emails fail because they never tell the reader what clear and specific action to take.

It’s the same with websites. What do you want people to do on your website? Tell them. Don’t assume they know what to do. They never do, anyway.

Anyway, Cathy started off wrong too (see below paragraph). Never start with an introduction to your company especially if it is an email asking for help. Because frankly darling, we don’t care about your company until you pander to me and my company. That’s the honest truth even though no one cares to admit it.

MM* College has been established for 12 years and is
one of the medical schools worldwide, to offer a twinning programme
with the Irish Medical Colleges of the National University of Ireland
(NUI); the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University
College Dublin (UCD). MM* is listed in the world directory of medical
schools published by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as
the International Medical Education Directory (IMED).

What Cathy Could Have Done…Or How to Write A Better Email

Before you write an email asking for help, think for a moment.

What is your goal? In Cathy’s case, she needed the public to help sponsor the graduation ball or advertise in their yearbook.

Next question, why should we the public help her? What do we get in return?

Here’s how I would’ve re-written her appeal.

=================================

Dear Sir/Madam,

Would you like to get your products in front of a captive and receptive audience of 3,000?

Would you like free media publicity at a high-profile event graced by the Sultan?

If you said yes, then read on. We can help you get your products seen and heard.

We’re a bunch of graduating doctors from MM College and will be having a graduation ball this 17th June at XYZ Hotel.

You get an opportunity to do the above and more when you help us by advertising in our yearbook (which goes out to not only our peers but also to our parents and teachers – think of the audience reach for your products). For just RMXX, you get your brand in front of 3,000 people.

As an exclusive advertiser, we will ensure your logo will be featured prominently on our stage and we will help you give out your brochures to all 3,000 people that night.

The Sultan, our patron, will be attending and giving a speech so the media attention will be tremendous.

As we will be having streamers outside the ballroom, your logo will also be seen even before people get into the ballroom. For Gold sponsors, we even have a special table for you to show off your products! The emcee of the evening will be mentioning your name throughout the evening too and we will invite your company representative to come onstage to say a few words.

Isn’t that great?

If you don’t think you could advertise, here’s another option – we will welcome any donation amount for our event. You can make out a cheque to “MM College Graduation Fund” and post it to: MM College, 3rd Floor, Jalan Kesari, 57400 KL.

We’re really excited about this event so I’ll give you a call this Tuesday to give you more details about this event.

More importantly, let us help you get your brand in front of the right audience.

Thanks so much!

Warmly,

Cathy

=================================

So you see, the right format, the right way to ask – these are crucial things if you want people to donate or help.

The original email focused on them – MM College. Not good.

The second email focused on giving the advertiser lots of reasons to advertise (media attention, 3000 people seeing their logo, helping the company give out their brochures, even a table to display their products not to mention public appreciation). Also, our call to action is very clear – either you advertise and get all these fantastic benefits or you could write us a donation. Either way works. Actually either way you get money! If the advertiser were smart, he will grab the first option.

And finally, if you’re asking for help, you make the first move. You call the recipient and clarify any doubts they have. They are not going to call you so if you want the money, you have to follow up.

See the difference? The first email will not be successful because it focused on themselves.

The second email will get its advertisers because it focuses on giving VALUE to the advertiser and giving ways to the advertiser get their products in front of a willing and captive audience (after all, the audience will be seeing the logo all night when they come in, sit there and watch the graduation ceremony!).

And media attention – wow. That has to be the icing on the cake for many advertisers. Who does not want free media attention? And a special table to display their products? Better than cool!

So you see how a little bit of re-focusing the perspective can work wonders for your appeal. That is the power of copywriting.

That is why copywriting when done right can make a world of difference to your charity appeal email.

It’s the difference between people opting to help you or just deleting your email.

Or in the case of Cathy and the future doctors, the difference between getting a RM3,000 advertiser or getting nothing at all.

How the power of a well-positioned appeal helped me raise RM4,850 worth of goodies for my community. Read on for more…

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