March 29, 2015, 7:47 p.m. in Best Practices by Engaging Networks
To raise maximum funds or get the most signatures for your petition, you need to know how to use email most effectively. So what are the characteristics of effective emails?
Here is what we've learned from our research and our clients' experience over the years:
1. Successful Emails Are Personal
“Segmentation is a lot of work. But it’s worth the effort. Segmentation of email lists increases the number of recipients who open your emails, and can double the rate at which recipients click through to your website.” – Carl Bloom Associates
People Respond To People
Just for a second, have a look at your inbox. Of the emails in there, which are you more likely to open? One from a person you know well, or one from an organization, entitled ‘Newsletter’?
Friends Remember Things
Relationship is fundamental to email communication. And relationships are built on personal exchanges. Those can be simple as learning each other’s names, or as complex as understanding each other’s motivations.
Your System Needs To Be Able To Learn
For the most personal – and therefore effective – emails, your system needs to learn and store these details. As many details as possible. The Engaging Networks platform goes way beyond knowing your supporter’s name. It also picks up on their activity, including whether your supporter has opened or clicked on your emails, signed your petitions, donated or shared your campaigns. You can pick up on this information and change the content of emails accordingly. This could mean:
- Mentioning different issues, depending on which issues the recipient has responded to in the past
- Varying the amounts of money you talk about, depending on a supporter’s previous donations
- Changing the tone of an email based on how long it was since your recipient took action
Some nonprofits use so many combinations that the entire text of each email going out is unique to that supporter. This is all possible with the Engaging Networks email tool.
2. Successful Emails Arrive At Their Intended Destination
Your email may contain the greatest fundraising appeal ever written. But if it never sees your recipient’s inbox, it’s pointless.
It Can Only Be Read If It Arrives
Deliverability, therefore, is crucial to an effective email platform. You can’t use any old system and expect your message to get through. Spam filters are all too easily triggered. This is especially the case when for targets of campaign emails.
Sometimes You Need A Contact “On The Inside”
We go to great lengths to make sure that your emails get opened. We even have direct contacts with political powers in the UK and US, to make sure that messages are being delivered to politicians and world leaders.
3. Successful Emails Are Frequent
“Knowing that fundraisers and direct mail experts assume that more frequent email appeals will wear out donors and lead them to unsubscribe from email lists, Jeff worked with a national veteran’s group to test whether high frequency email (2 direct appeals and 1 cultivation email with a “soft ask”/month) performed better or worse than low frequency email (1 appeal/month) in combination with printed direct mail materials. The suprising result: over a three month period, 23% more was donated by the group that received high frequency email.” – Betsy Stone, reporting on research by Jeff Patrick of Common Knowledge
“According to data released last year from MailChimp and HubSpot, organizations that send emails only once per month have a 78% higher unsubscribe rate than those that send 12 a month.” - Jonathan Goldford, WiredImpact
Err On The Side Of Volume
Your success in developing life-long relationships with supporters depends on the frequency of your communication. We recommend once every 2 weeks at the very least or once a week if possible.
It’s Easier To Do Than You Think
When we advise this, most people say to us: “I don’t have the time to write that many emails!” However, there is an easier (and better) way. Our email tool allows you to store up a sequence of emails to be sent out at a pre-set time. Then, you can write a long series, set and forget.
Email Without Limit
There is also no limit on the number of emails you can send out to your supporters. You can send as many as you like – we don’t charge extra for that.
4. Successful Emails Link To Web Pages That Continue The Conversation
When your supporters click on a link from one of your emails, the last thing you want them to do is double-check they are in the right place. That feeling of disorientation destroys any feelings your email text has worked to build up. It’s as if a friend has forgotten who you are in the middle of a conversation. Your page will have to work hard to overcome this jolt.
Create Loyal Supporters With Smooth Journeys
So, make life easier on yourself. Create a smooth transition from email to web page by:
- Continuing the story you started to tell in your email
- Presenting the same look and feel. This may be as simple as using the same fonts and colours. This is all possible with Engaging Networks’ flexible, customisable templates for both web pages and emails.
- Acknowledging personal details about your supporter. This should include name and other details if possible. This makes a great connection. Because email is integrated with fundraising and advocacy in the Engaging Networks system, you can personalize web pages as well as emails.
5. Successful Emails Are Tested And Improved
“One Obama email blast from June 26 with the subject line, “I will be outspent,” raked in $2.5 million… other iterations of the same message sent under different subject headings – e.g. “Thankful every day,” or, “Michelle time” – were notably less successful, raking in $545,486 and $604,813 respectively.” – ABC News
Little Things Make GIANT Differences
Read those figures again. One subject line made a $2,000,000 difference.
That’s how much more you could raise if you found out which subject lines work the best. Perhaps as much as 500%…
Guesswork Doesn’t Cut It
The Obama campaign admitted they would have failed to pick a winner without testing.
Fact: Testing is THE best way to improve your email results.
Split Test For Actual Donations Rather Than Clicks
The Engaging Networks platform tracks your split test right through from the email to the thank you page. This means you can work out which subject line or email text actually brings in the most money or petition signatures.