Creating effective email journeys to engage your supporters

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Email journeys (automated sequences of emails) are a critical part of your email communications. They allow you to engage your supporters and deepen their connection to your cause. Email journeys don’t replace the importance of a solid ongoing email programme but they are a key way to:

  • Welcome new supporters
  • Build strong relationships with supporters based on their interaction with you
  • Re-engage supporters over time

An effective journey is one that gives supporters interesting, relevant content and a variety of ways to take action. You can have as many emails in a journey as you like but usually they’re between 6 and 12 emails long, after which supporters go back into your regular email programme. 

10 tips for creating an effective email journey 

  1.  Go with the flow: when planning your journey, think about what you want the audience to think, do and feel at each stage. What experience do you want to create for them as they move through each email? Before you start writing your email copy, map the content out so you can review it and check whether you have a:
    1. balance of different actions for people to take
    2. good mix of ask and non-ask emails
    3. strong narrative thread connecting the dots from one email to the next
  1. Use friendly, inclusive language: your email journey should make your supporters part of your work and focus on the change that you’re trying to create together.
  1. Connect your emails to each other: develop your narrative from one email to the next. This can be as simple as “a few days ago I shared XXX story with you.” Where possible try to reference the actions people have taken or the ways they’ve been involved previously. 
  1. Remind people to take action: We all have busy inboxes so we miss emails. Including reminders gives people another chance to take an action if they missed the first email.
  1. Get to know your supporters: email journeys are a great way to help your supporters get to know you but they’re also a chance for you to get to know them. Include surveys and polls in your journey to find out what matters to people.
  1. Give people different ways to get involved: everyone’s different – some people love nothing better than a good fundraising challenge while others prefer to give their time through volunteering. For welcome journeys especially, give supporters a range of ways to get involved with you so they can find the one that suits them best.
  1. Mix up your content: not all your emails should be asking supporters to do something. Balance asks with compelling, story-driven content. Approach these emails by asking yourself: Why would supporters be interested in this? What’s the most interesting angle for them? Why should they read it?
  1. Show your appreciation: weave your appreciation for supporters throughout your email journey. For reactivation and welcome journeys alike, it’s crucial to let supporters know that they’re part of a community who share the same values and who are all working together to achieve change. 
  1. Show impact: in line with appreciation, it’s also important to share stories that show the real-world impact of people’s support and the difference their involvement makes. 
  1. Make your content timeless: wherever possible try to give people content and actions that are not time-sensitive and don’t need to be updated too regularly.

Planning your EN email journey 

Once you’ve got the initial outline or content plan for your journey, it’s worth taking a step back and considering a few key questions that will influence your final journey and how you’re going to set up your emails in the Marketing Automation module in Engaging Networks.

Are you going to tailor the journey based on how people interact with emails once they’ve started the journey? 

One of the key things to consider is if you want to be able to decide the next email a supporter will receive based on how they interact with emails or actions in the journey. EN allows you to segment the journey based on seven different conditions, which are listed in the Support Portal. Bearing these conditions in mind when you’re planning will make it easier when you come to building your journey.

How are people going to get into the journey? 

Understanding how you’re going to get people into your journey from the outset can save a lot of time managing the data once you come to building your journey. 

Opt-in question: The first thing to bear in mind is that Marketing Automations require you to choose an opt-in question that supporters have consented to. If you have more than one email opt-in question in your EN account it’s important that you clear which one needs to be used for the journey you want to send people on. For example, if you’re sending new supporters on a journey based on a petition page they’ve signed (that was built in EN), then your Marketing Automation would need to use the same opt-in question used on the petition page. 

Targeting: There are a range of ways you can select the right audiences for your Marketing Automation in EN. Understanding the options available will make sure you can easily add the right supporters to your journeys.

The options for targeting include:

  • New supporters: supporters who sign up after the automation is live and who’s email address is not already in your EN database. You would most likely use this for new supporters who sign up to a subscription list or who take a specific action that you can define later in the targeting process.
  • Supporters who have donated: these are supporters who have made a donation on any donation page within EN. Supporters who make a recurring donation will only be added to the journey once. 
  • Supporters in the following profile: profiles are incredibly useful for targeting supporters based on the range of options available under profiles. You can find the full list on the EN Support Portal

You can also target people based on their engagement with specific pages. All the targeting options are set out in the  Support Portal. 

Do you have a clear sense of how your account settings will affect the emails people will get while they’re in the journey?

This is another hugely important question, especially if different teams are using EN and have different Marketing Automations set up. 

The first thing to check is whether the account is set up to allow people to be in multiple Marketing Automations at once. This is in your Account Preferences section – if you have ticked the “Prioritize Email Triggers” box then supporters can only be in one Marketing Automation at once. 

If you’ve checked the “Prioritize Email Triggers” box in account settings, you can manage the priority for automations. This means that if a supporter qualifies for more than one Marketing Automation, EN will add them to the first automation they qualify for.

Compelling, tailored email journeys are a core part of developing strong relationships with your supporters and giving them meaningful ways to deepen their connection with your cause over time. 

Are you looking to review the email journeys in your own organisation? Contact accredited partner Catherine Joyce at [email protected]

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