Case Study

Re-Engaging Supporters Through Marketing Automation and Survey


Learn about Humane Society International’s deep engagement through marketing automation.

This case study was provided in collaboration with Raise the Roots, an accredited Engaging Networks partner.


Humane Society International (HSI) manages a list of over 4.5 million supporters from across the globe. Their comprehensive acquisition strategy results in a constant stream of new supporters joining their list from a variety of channels. Because of their incredible accomplishments and reputation, HSI doesn’t have difficulty growing the list. Their challenge is ensuring continued engagement with existing supporters.

HSI was looking for a new approach to supporter retention that was automated to reduce the time commitment for staff. Rather than wait until a supporter had become completely disengaged, HSI wanted to target those who had more recently stopped clicking or converting on their emails and pages. During this re-engagement process, HSI also hoped to learn more from their supporters about their preferences and how HSI could improve their efforts.


Raise the Roots and HSI worked together to create a re-engagement strategy built around their incredible content and the tools available in Engaging Networks. First, HSI would leverage Email Engagement Scores to identify inactive supporters. Second, Marketing Automations would be created targeting those inactive supporters with survey emails and subsequent messages tied to survey responses. Finally, Page Builder surveys would help HSI learn more about what’s important to their supporters.

Email Engagement Score

The Email Engagement Score in Engaging Networks is a measure of a supporter’s interaction with an organization’s emails over discrete periods of time. The score is calculated on the first of each month and looks at email opens, link clicks, and page conversions from email.

The Email Engagement Scores important to HSI in this project were 4, 5, 6 and 7, 8, 9. These are supporters who had previously clicked or converted on their emails – but haven’t again in 4-6 and 7-12 months, respectively. By targeting supporters in these groups, HSI was intervening in supporter disengagement before so much time had passed that re-engagement was unlikely.

Email Engagement Scores are available in Profiles in Engaging Networks, meaning that two audiences could be built for two separate marketing automations targeting these supporters on an ongoing basis.

Marketing Automations

Marketing Automations allow you to target audiences identified in a Profile. You can choose what time messages are sent and what frequency the automation will pull supporters into the journey (daily or weekly). It’s possible to include multiple emails, insert wait periods between emails, and create decision trees where emails are sent based on supporter responses to previous automation emails.

Once we had identified the supporters HSI wanted to target in Profiles built with Email Engagement Scores, it was time to build a re-engagement journey that could be automated to target supporters in those Profiles automatically each month when Engaging Networks calculated Email Engagement Scores.

We built two Marketing Automations in Engaging Networks with HSI. The first targeted supporters with an Email Engagement Score of 4, 5, or 6. These are supporters who had previously been active but have not clicked a link in an email or converted on a page from an email in 4 – 6 months. HSI viewed these supporters as the candidates most likely for re-engagement.

We believed that the most effective content drawing-out supporter engagement would be a survey where supporters are encouraged to share their thoughts and preferences on HSI’s efforts. The automation would send an initial email with the first question of the survey embedded in the body of the message to create momentum for completing the survey by getting started right away. A reminder message was sent to supporters who didn’t complete the survey following the first message.

The most critical part of the automation was a set of emails – each one tied to a specific survey question response. Supporters are asked on the survey which HSI effort they enjoy hearing about most. Their response to that question triggered a related email sent two days later. All of these follow-up messages were action alerts on the topic selected by the supporter on that survey question. If the supporter completed the action alert, they were sent a fundraising appeal. The objective was to create high-level, personalized engagement that was directly tied a supporter’s stated interests to strengthen their connection with HSI.

The second Marketing Automation targeted supporters with an Email Engagement Score of 7, 8, or 9. These are supporters who had previously been active but have not clicked a link in an email or converted on a page from an email in 7 – 12 months. These supporters should have received the first Marketing Automation back when their Email Engagement Score was 4, 5, or 6. HSI viewed this additional automation as one final attempt to engage them.

Similar to the first automation, HSI sent these supporters a survey. This survey was very simple – only asking three questions – and a reminder message went to the supporter if they didn’t complete the survey.


email hsi

In the Engaging Networks Page Builder, it’s possible to create “Data Capture” pages with custom questions. This allows you to create surveys for your supporters. We created two HSI surveys for their re-engagements series. The first went to the Email Engagement Score 4, 5, and 6 group. It was a five question survey that asked supporters to share information about themselves (“Do you have any pets? We love hearing about them!”), to choose their preferred HSI program (“what HSI campaign would you like to hear about the most?”), and to share their social media preferences (“Do you use any of these social networks?”). Depending on their responses, additional questions may appear asking things like what type of animal(s) do they have as a pet.

HSI and Raise the Roots worked hard to create survey questions that we felt would engage their supporters, build on their relationship, emphasize HSI’s breadth of work, and capture information that may be helpful for future HSI engagement. For instance, asking supporters what social media channels they prefer and what other animal protection organizations they support might help with social media re-targeting and lookalike audience creation for acquisition campaigns.

The second survey was designed to be short in order to increase the possibility of engagement and conversion. It went to the group of supporters with an Email Engagement Score of 7, 8, and 9. One of the questions was “What best describes you?” where supporters were able to select from a list labels that they preferred, including: Animal Advocate, HSI Supporter, Activist, Donor, and Animal Lover. The responses would help inform content choices and wording in future HSI emails.

For both surveys, we placed the first question in the body of the email sent to supporters. There were buttons in the email tied to a corresponding response option in Question 1 of each survey. The links were setup so the choice selected by the supporter in the email would be automatically selected on the survey page when they arrived. The goal was to create momentum right in the email to increase conversion.

survey example HSI


HSI has been happy with the results of their re-engagement automations. So far, 1.4 million supporters have gone through one or both Marketing Automation journeys. The average open rate for emails in the series has been 23.89% for the Email Engagement Score 4, 5, 6 automation and 13.95% for the 7, 8. 9 automation. The click-through rates have been 18.51% and 6.72%. All of these numbers are significantly higher than the average performance metrics for HSI’s general emails and for the nonprofit industry at-large.

Over 44,000 supporters have completed the HSI re-engagement surveys. This participation has generated a trove of data for HSI to use to strengthen their efforts and better understand their supporters. The clicks and survey responses generated by this automation also represent an improvement in supporter re-engagement for these individuals who were beginning to disengage from the organization.

The Marketing Automations have directly resulted in $518 in donations. More importantly, over 38,000 supporters who went through these journeys have since donated to HSI.

Pro Tips

  1. Supporters can only receive a specific Marketing Automation one time.
  2. It’s possible to run A/B tests on emails in Marketing Automations – making them great tools for testing content options over a long period of time.
  3. When building any Marketing Automation, remember that your automation won’t begin sending emails until the next day. It’s not immediate.

This case study was provided in collaboration with Raise the Roots, an accredited Engaging Networks partner.

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