Email Marketing for Nonprofits - Tips & Tricks


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Are you sending email, eNewsletters, or eCampaigns but not sure if these efforts are reaching their full potential? Come learn how better segmentation and coordination can increase your marketing efficiency and results!

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  • Is the content news-worthy? Or, is it being sent because we always send our newsletter on Wednesdays? One of the top challenges organizations face is creating compelling content.
  • Do the basics well.
  • If readers don’t recognize you, they are likely to flag your message as spam
  • Make sure someone checks this email address regularly. Honor opts outs.
  • Spend time thinking about your subject line. How much time would you spend crafting the title of a direct mail piece?
  • Avoid being vague. Be clear and direct. People get a lot of email.
  • In this example, they type in CAPS, they use the word Free
  • Avg. 3 seconds. Are you getting your main messages across in 3 seconds?
  • Same email. Lead off with a cat story because I know you like cats. For someone else, I lead off with a dog story. Maybe the rest of the email is the same.
  • Example of BBNC conditional content. Could your 5K announcement email be different to past participants vs. prospective participants?
  • Eg. animal humane society – noticed a significant response difference when they told a personal story of a pet vs. general appeals to fund new equipment.
  • How is money being used? What progress is being made? Use stats, testimonials, and expert opinions to reinforce the progress you’re making. Use case studies to show the before and after impact that donor dollars had.
  • Only the top 2-4 inches (or 400-600 pixels) of your email will be viewable in the preview pane;
  • Ensure you are using images/text wisely to preview message content
  • It may look pretty (if it shows up), but if the image is blocked by the browser, you no longer have a message. No alt tags.
  • Again, no alt. tags
  • Even though, they use large images, you can still see the call to action - a Live Webinar on June 28. Suggestion : let me know the topic of that webinar and have a link to register on that line.
  • Use verbs to keep it active – write sparingly and make those few words count; Highlight any relevant expiration dates for a quicker response. However, keep it soft: for a nonprofit, the identity is usually more important than “making the sale”
  • Convince readers if they don’t act now, they might miss out on something really important. In example, I have no idea what the “donors” and “volunteer” links take me to.
  • Even though it’s longer, I’m compelled to act in May so my donation could be doubled.
  • Again, a little longer. But you see the benefit and the impact of my gift.
  • Same email on the bottom. But if my images don’t download, I never see the call to action.
  • Fundraising appeal – target by past giving level or fund they supported
  • Instead of packing every detail into a message (and losing a lot of readers in the process), email only the basics and let them find more information online
  • Confirm that recipients have clicked through to the correct place. It doesn’t take long to lose someone if they’re not sure where to find the information they’re looking for.
  • How else will you know? Open rates – not as reliable. Plain text messages, people may read but never download images.
  • You likely won’t follow these rates exactly. But it’s good to know how perform against other organizations. Open Rates: Number opened divided by number sent. Click-thoughs: Number of people who clicked on any trackable link in an email message, divided by the number of people who received the email message. RESPONSE RATE: Calculated as the number of people who took the main action requested by an email message, divided by the number of people who received the email message
  • Not only how you perform against the industry. Maybe more importantly, how are your email rates trending? Conversion rates dipped from this time last year? Opt outs increasing or decreasing?
  • You have the evidence. Use it! For emails that performed well, go back and analyze. Where did we place our links? What did the call-to-action say? How did we lead up to it?
  • What was the primary goal of each email? Which ones performed best? Go back and look at those emails. How do they differ from emails that had lower click-thru rates on your primary call to action?
  • After reviewing your data, form a hypothesis. Is your primary call to action at the bottom of the email? Could we do better if it was placed elsewhere?
  • Take your hypotheses and begin to test. Start with multivariate testing and begin to drill down. Wednesday, early morning, late at night. Multivariate - Split tests and A/B tests are usually performed to determine the better of two content variations, multivariate testing can theoretically test the effectiveness of limitless combinations.
  • Promote the benefits of subscribing on the sign-up page. Offer a relevant incentive , such as an email-only discount, free shipping, or link to download an informational resource. Offer multiple subscription options (by topic, frequency, format, etc.)
  • Photoshop fake website
  • This is just one example A landing page Every organization’s options, questions, etc. will be different
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for your supporters’ email addresses – if they like and trust you, they will gladly provide them; Require email address for all order forms – paper and online; Set a business rule that wherever contact information is being collected, an email address will be part of the collection
  • Links to specific actions
  • Email is a relationship-building tool. Are you bringing something to the relationship by delivering interesting content? Or are you sending everything to everyone, hoping that some of it is of interest?
  • Email is a relationship-building tool. Are you bringing something to the relationship by delivering interesting content? Or are you sending everything to everyone, hoping that some of it is of interest?
  • Especially when you’re starting out. Avoid: Major Donors + Toronto + Attended our Gala + Interest in Pediatric Programs
  • Interests. Recency. Donor/Non-Donor.
  • You can quickly get overloaded with segmentation. Keep it simple. Prioritize your segments.
  • Are you keeping track of who’s getting what? Is it a joint effort with other departments? Is there a risk that certain audiences could get inundated with communications next week or next month?
  • Your communication schedule can be something as simple as this chart. Key is to outline your communications across different channels and collaborate with other depts. Eg. University – are the marketing and alumni departments on the same page? Do you have a collaborate plan?
  • Are you sending the same message to prospective donors that you are to major donors? Shouldn’t they be different? You have different strategies for each audience, so why not engage each with information that is helpful and important to them.
  • ****Review study for what constitutes large giving program
  • ***
  • Eg. Boating Event
  • What strategies? Translate offline initiatives to online world. 4+ donors: Acknowledge/thank and let them know progress you’ve made. Inactive: Bring them back - Volunteer, Friend-raisers, Survey
  • Specifically, pay attention to those donors who have renewed their first and second year. Focus on delivering personal, relevant, compelling content. Eg. How money was used. Who it was impacted. Make them feel appreciated. Build that relationship.
  • The more channels you can use to engage your donors, the more likely they are to stay and the more valuable they will be.
  • Eg. Direct mail – follow up by email letting donors know how much you’ve raised and how much further you need to go.
  • Sums up the segmentation section.
  • Email Marketing for Nonprofits - Tips & Tricks

    1. 1. Email Marketing Tips & Tricks <ul><li>Mike Snusz Blackbaud Sr. Internet Solutions Consultant </li></ul>
    2. 2. “ I felt like they were disappointed” “They didn’t give me an update on what they were doing”
    3. 3. Tip #1: To Send Or Not To Send <ul><li>Don’t overdo it. A good rule of thumb – ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Would I spend a dollar per person to say this?” </li></ul>
    4. 4. Tips & Tricks to: <ul><li>Author compelling message content </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to analyze key metrics and what they may be telling you </li></ul><ul><li>Identify six steps to know, grow and maintain your list </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a multi-channel marketing plan </li></ul><ul><li>Understand power segments and why you should target them </li></ul>
    5. 5. Author compelling message content <ul><li>Tips & Tricks to </li></ul>
    6. 6. 5 Guidelines for An Effective Email Message
    7. 7. Recognizable “From” or “Sender” address Tip #2: Don’t use a random name “From” Name
    8. 8. Recognizable “From” or “Sender” address Tip #3: Use a consistent “From” and “Reply-To” addresses to build your sender reputation
    9. 9. Descriptive, inviting (and honest) subject line Tip #4: Limit subject lines to 50–60 characters maximum or less (mobile devices typically display the first 15–25 characters)
    10. 10. Descriptive, inviting (and honest) subject line Tip #5: Keep subject lines clear and simple – not promotional
    11. 11. Descriptive, inviting (and honest) subject line Tip #6: Avoid using @, #, $ , ! or ALL CAPS in the subject – could trigger spam filters
    12. 12. Descriptive, inviting (and honest) subject line Tip #7: Look inside your own junk mail folder – and don’t do what they do
    13. 13. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #8: Keep content short and to the point <ul><li>Write for scanners and skimmers </li></ul><ul><li>Use headlines, bulleted lists </li></ul><ul><li>and very short paragraphs </li></ul>
    14. 14. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #9: Create interesting, relevant and compelling content for your audiences
    15. 15. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online
    16. 16. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #10: Use stories to engage your readers
    17. 17. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #11: Use statistics, testimonials, case studies, and expert opinions to support a point
    18. 18. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #12: Design and write for the preview pane Image displays, but no content! No image, no alt tags = no content!
    19. 19. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Image/text displays, call to action above the fold
    20. 20. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #13: Avoid using one large image
    21. 21. Concise, relevant content designed to be read online Tip #14: Avoid using mostly images
    22. 22. Compelling call-to-action Tip #15: Compel your readers to do something. Your first mention should appear in the preview pane The call-to-action is usually the entire point of sending the message
    23. 23. Compelling call-to-action Tip #16: Give readers a sense of urgency and use specific action-oriented language Donate now to help us send 5,000 children in Cambodia to school by 2012.
    24. 24. Compelling call-to-action Volunteer or donate now to help us cut whales killing quotas in half this year
    25. 25. Compelling call-to-action
    26. 26. Compelling call-to-action
    27. 27. Compelling call-to-action Tip #17: Don’t put the call-to-action in an image
    28. 28. Supporting landing page(s) Tip #18: Each kind of message might call for a different kind of landing page
    29. 29. Supporting landing page(s) Tip #19: You’ve motivated them to act – now bring them even closer
    30. 30. Supporting landing page(s) Tip #20: Use email headings as page titles
    31. 31. Learn to analyze key metrics and what they may be telling you <ul><li>Tips & Tricks to: </li></ul>
    32. 32. Tip #21: Review important email metrics…regularly <ul><li>Open Rates </li></ul><ul><li>Click-through Rates </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion Rates </li></ul><ul><li>Unsubscribe Rates </li></ul>
    33. 33. Tip #22: Compare your rates against industry benchmarks <ul><li>Open Rates: 16%–19% </li></ul><ul><li>Click-through Rates (Newsletter): 2.1% </li></ul><ul><li>Click-through Rates (Fundraising): 0.6% </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion Rates: 0.12% </li></ul><ul><li>Unsubscribe Rates: 0.12% </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: NTEN, ReturnPath, MarketingSherpa, Blackbaud </li></ul>
    34. 34. Tip #23: Look for trends in your email rates
    35. 35. Tip #24: Dig in deeper. Review emails with highest/lowest overall click-through rates <ul><li>High Click-through – 4.1% (March 13, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>High Click-through – 4.0% (January 3, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>Lowest Click-through – 1.1% (November 7, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>Lowest Click-through – 1.0% (December 14, 2010) </li></ul>
    36. 36. Tip #25: Analyze emails with the highest/lowest primary call-to-action click-through rates <ul><li>Donation Form Click-Through Rates </li></ul><ul><li>High Click-through – 5.4% (March 27, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>High Click-through – 5.0% (December 15, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Lowest Click-through – 1.1% (November 7, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Lowest Click-through – 0.6% (March 23, 2010) </li></ul>
    37. 37. Tip #26: Construct a Hypothesis <ul><li>“ Our call-to-action is not inspiring donors to give” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Content is too long, so readers are not clicking through to our site” </li></ul>
    38. 38. Tip #27: Test, Test, Test <ul><li>Effective message testing can dramatically improve response rates </li></ul>
    39. 39. Multi-Variate Testing
    40. 40. Split Testing
    41. 41. Tip #28: Analyze Your Data, Draw a Conclusion…and Try Again <ul><li>“ Conversion rates increased when personal stories were used” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Click-through rates were higher when less content was used” </li></ul><ul><li>Publish your results internally </li></ul><ul><li>Treat your results as new observations and test again to refine your results </li></ul>
    42. 42. Identify six steps to know, grow and maintain your list <ul><li>Tips & Tricks to: </li></ul>
    43. 43. Tip #29: Feature a quick way to subscribe from each page of your site
    44. 44. <ul><li>Top of page </li></ul><ul><li>“ Join our email newsletter” </li></ul><ul><li>Subscription callout on home page </li></ul><ul><li>“ Stay in touch” box describes benefits of signup </li></ul><ul><li>Footer navigation </li></ul><ul><li>Link to newsletter </li></ul>
    45. 45. Tip #30: Set Clear Expectations <ul><li>Email subscription page </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits of subscribing </li></ul><ul><li>Quick, easy way to subscribe </li></ul><ul><li>Link to email archive </li></ul><ul><li>Invitation to share certain personal details – e.g., interest categories, suggestion box ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Bonus: Link to manage all subscriptions from one location </li></ul>
    46. 46. Tip #31: Provide an incentive to opt in <ul><li>Incentives for Subscribing </li></ul><ul><li>Gift challenge campaign to encourage wide subscriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Clear Call to Action </li></ul><ul><li>Click to campaign landing page </li></ul>
    47. 47. <ul><li>Campaign Overview + Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Describe gift challenge program and impact </li></ul><ul><li>Easy Subscription Process </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymous subscribe </li></ul>
    48. 48. Tip #32: Ask for email addresses at every touch point <ul><li>Web forms </li></ul><ul><li>Direct marketing – postcards/letters </li></ul><ul><li>At your events </li></ul><ul><li>When constituents call </li></ul>
    49. 49. Tip #33: Engage them starting with the welcome message <ul><li>Acquisition is only half the battle – have a plan for keeping them involved </li></ul>
    50. 50. Tip #34: Target non-responders <ul><li>Don't forget the non-responders </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Just because someone doesn't open in 72 hours doesn't mean he/she is not interested </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Three is the magic number </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As a rule, emails perform best when the same message is sent to a non-responder three times (in a bit of a different creative shell of course) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many organizations focus on the 30 percent who open and cast off the 70 percent who don't </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A subject line with &quot;last chance&quot; or &quot;final offer” can help activate your non-responders </li></ul></ul>
    51. 51. Develop a multi-channel marketing plan <ul><li>Tips & Tricks to: </li></ul>
    52. 52. Tip #35: Segment and personalize “mass” communications <ul><li>“Smart Marketing Begins With Smart Segmentation” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jeffrey Fox, How To Become A Marketing Superstar </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fundraising emails sent only to previous donors received more than three times higher response rates than those sent only to prospects on the same list </li></ul><ul><li>Activists targeted by location or interest had about one-and-a-half times higher response rates than the general population </li></ul><ul><li>Click-through rates for segmented versus non-segmented campaigns are twice as high for the first 30 days. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, NTEN & M+R Strategic Services </li></ul><ul><li> Email Marketing Benchmark Guide 2008, MarketingSherpa </li></ul>
    53. 54. Tip #36: But…Keep Segmentation Overlap Simple <ul><li>“Class of…” </li></ul><ul><li>Donors giving between $1000 and $2499.99 in the past 12 months </li></ul><ul><li>RFM </li></ul><ul><li>Board members </li></ul><ul><li>People who know board members </li></ul><ul><li>New members </li></ul><ul><li>Monthly donors </li></ul><ul><li>Patrons who have attended Baroque concerts </li></ul><ul><li>Donors giving four or more gifts in the last calendar year </li></ul><ul><li>Donors who only give online </li></ul><ul><li>Donors who only give offline </li></ul><ul><li>Donors who give online and offline </li></ul>
    54. 55. Super simple
    55. 56. A little less simple
    56. 57. Tip #37: Track All Communications to Segments <ul><li>Know who you’re writing to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who’s your audience? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What segments can you break them into? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Know what you want to say </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What does each of those segments need to hear from you? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Know when to write to your audiences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When do you need to say it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you fatiguing some of your audiences? </li></ul></ul>Segmentation: the who Your Message: the what Frequency: the when
    57. 59. Understand power segments and why you should target them <ul><li>Tips & Tricks to </li></ul>
    58. 60. Tip #38: Segment by Donors/Non-Donors
    59. 62. <ul><li>Organizations with large recurring giving programs had a median 84% of their first-time recurring donors coming from new donor acquisition. </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations with small recurring giving programs had 34% of their first-time recurring donors coming from new donor acquisition. The remainder (66%) of their first-time recurring donors came from conversions of single-gift donors. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: 2009 donorCentrics U.S. Recurring Giving Benchmarking Analysis </li></ul>Tip #39: Target recurring giving to either non-donors or single-gift donors
    60. 63. Tip #40: Segment By Interest
    61. 64. Interests like… <ul><li>Interests like… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Affinity: “class of”, staff, patient, beneficiary, family of patient </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interest: events, dogs/cats, breast cancer research, environment, volunteering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gift Type: planned gift, stock </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Preferences like… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Premiums </li></ul></ul>
    62. 65. Tip #41: Use Polls to Learn Additional Interests <ul><li>Used poll data to subtly drive content and creative on site and in emails </li></ul><ul><li>Saw online giving increase 12% </li></ul>
    63. 66. Tip #42: Segment By Recency
    64. 68. New vs. not new <ul><li>Donors who were new to the file last fiscal year and this fiscal year are the most difficult to renew again. Once a second gift is given, the likelihood increases dramatically that they will give a third gift. </li></ul><ul><li>New Donors This Year and New Donors Last Year are critical segments to the health of the fundraising or membership program. </li></ul><ul><li>Once a donor has been on file for three to four years, and is still actively giving, the retention rate jumps to 75%+. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Target Analytics by Blackbaud – Online study of 2007-2008 </li></ul>
    65. 69. Recency & Retention: new vs. not new <ul><li>Retention increases based on length of time on file and current activity. </li></ul>Source: Target Analytics by Blackbaud – Online study of 2007-2008 Segment Typical Retention Rates 1 st year renewal 20%-35% 2 nd year renewal 55%-65% 3-4+ years renewal 75%+
    66. 70. Tip #43: Segment By Channel
    67. 71. Segmenting by giving level and channel <ul><li>Donors who use multiple channels are more likely to stay. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Target Analytics by Blackbaud – Online study of 2007-2008 </li></ul>Principal Gifts Major Donors The Middle Donor Small Sum Donors Personal Cultivation Events Direct Mail/Phone Web Cost per donor Channels
    68. 72. <ul><li>Multiple-channel donors have higher revenue per donor and higher retention rates than single-channel donors. </li></ul><ul><li>Donors who use more than one channel to communicate with an organization are more valuable over time than those who use only one channel consistently. </li></ul><ul><li>Offline donors with an email address on file give larger gifts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$65 email on file, $47 no email on file </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: Target Analytics by Blackbaud – Online study of 2007-2008 </li></ul>
    69. 73. Tip #44: Use an Active Email Strategy
    70. 74. Questions? Mike Snusz, Blackbaud Internet Solutions [email_address]
    71. 75. Blackbaud’s 2010 Conference for Nonprofits <ul><li>Join us to experience everything you have come to love about the Blackbaud Conference — three days of educational content dedicated to your specific needs and opportunities to network and interact with your peers and industry experts — all in a new venue that will have more to offer than ever before! </li></ul><ul><li>October 20 – 22, 2010 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Washington, D.C. </li></ul><ul><li>Visit for more information! </li></ul>