Like social media, email marketing is where you nurture constituent relationships. But e-mail is different from social media in a few critical areas:
- Privacy and Intimacy – E-mail is not a public channel like Twitter or Facebook. Opting into your list is an agreement to enter a private 1-1 relationship with you, by way of their inbox.
- Segmentation – The core principle of e-mail marketing is segmentation, or adding people to specific lists based on their interests and actions. Segmentation ultimately allows you to send the right message to the right people at the right time. You can’t do this with Twitter or Facebook.
- Conversion – Social media is relational, not transactional. Various different studies by Blackbaud, Mightycause and others show that Twitter and Facebook have about a 3% – 6% conversion rate. E-mail on the other hand has a 33% conversion rate.
What all this means is that social media should be used in conjunction with e-mail in order to do effective online fundraising.
Social media creates awareness, likability and connection; e-mail builds on that with personalized messaging and personalized appeals.
Five Ways to Convert More Donors with Email Marketing
Following are five strategies and tactics that you can do right now to get more from your e-mail marketing.
1. Follow Up With Advocates – When someone joins a cause or signs a petition, they’re more receptive to making a donation than any other time. They might not be as receptive in a few hours, so follow up immediately when you’re fresh on their mind. You can automate this your email marketing software.
2. Touch Them Consistently – When someone joins your email, they expect – and want – you to email them (duh). The worst thing you can do is ask someone to join your e-mail list, but have nothing to send them once they join.
They gave you permission to enter their inbox, and are seeking more from you – including ways they can support your cause.
3. Use Rich Text Instead of HTML Templates – Human beings make decisions related to trust in less than a tenth of a second. And people trust their friends way more than they trust any brand or nonprofit. An email format (rich text) that is commonly shared among friends feels more personal and thus more trustworthy.
In several tests I’ve done with clients, rich text email get a 15% higher average click-through rate over those fancy HTML templates. Particularly with call-to-actions.
Rich text emails are also much easier to read on mobile devices, which more and more people use these days.
4. Personalize Messaging – A quality email marketing service allows you to personalize the email message for each subscriber. There isn’t a silver bullet answer for how to personalize emails because every organization is different. But what is important is that you seek to personalize emails based on understanding your audience (Personas really help here).
5. Segment Your List – All of your subscribers and donors are not the same. So why would you send them the same exact message? Segmentation allows you to create highly receptive messages based on your subscribers expressed interests.
For example, donors supporting the protection of sea turtles would be much more receptive to similar messages, than they would messages about lowering Co2 levels. To develop a segmentation strategy, start with your personas.
Please don’t torch your email list
You stand for something that no other organization stands for, and your people support you for reasons that are uniquely theirs.
Because of this, you do not want to start torching your list by testing out ideas you read about on some blog. Test these ideas, yes. But please test them on a small percent of your list, maybe 5%.
Test subject lines, copy, rich text vs. HTML templates, etc. Take what works here and leave the rest.