I just returned from speaking at the MyCharityConnects Conference, a social media and online fundraising conference hosted by CanadaHelps in Toronto. I was there to share what I’ve learned about engaging email campaigns. After I was done speaking someone said to me, “Who knew there was so much to email?”
The fact is email is an important tool that requires considerable planning, resources and expertise to be successful.
Just look at some of the considerations:
- Relevant content
- Calls to action
- Multi-channel components
- Landing pages
- Analyzing results
- List churn
My presentation covered how nonprofits can learn from what the corporate world is doing. Corporate email programs often have the resources to run more sophisticated email programs than nonprofits. Nonprofits are, unfortunately, often handcuffed by limited staff, budget and/or time.
So what can nonprofits learn from the for profit world? A 2011 Gleanster survey found the most important value drivers for top corporate email programs were:
- Testing and measuring everything
- Building in targeting capabilities
Learn from the for profit world
As the amount of email in our inboxes has increased the past several years, corporate email programs have focused on delivering value. They test offers, messaging and more. They focus on delivering relevant content based on subscriber interests, preferences and actions.
As a result, emails expectations have changed. Your constituents are now accustomed to receiving relevant, interesting and useful email.
Daily deals from Groupon. Airfare price alerts to dream destinations. Special offers from their favorite stores. Social media alerts on new followers, retweets or friends.
Add in family and friends, and the inbox has become a competitive place.
How can your nonprofit stand out?
Apply what’s working in the corporate world to your email programs, including:
- Testing variables like subject lines and calls to action, for starters. A quick survey’s of Tuesday’s attendees found only a few nonprofits were testing their email campaigns.
- Using different messaging for different audiences. Send me something I’m interested in and I’m more likely to read it. I’m then more likely to read your next email. And perhaps your next tweet or mailing. Avoid a one-size-fits-all message to every email address you have.
- Send emails based on behavior. Marketing Sherpa’s 2011 Email Benchmark Report found sending emails based on behavior was one of the most effective ways to improve the relevancy of your emails. Have a new donor? Send follow-up emails to let them know what programs or services their gift funded. Keep them updated on the progress of that program or service.
You can find more ideas in my presentation below. Also, if you didn’t attend, the folks at MyCharityConnects Conference were kind enough to add most of the conference’s presentations on their website.