At the heart of launching a successful fundraising drive is an effective email campaign. Be sure that your donor solicitation efforts achieve your revenue goals by following these best practices for your next email fundraising campaign.

#1: Be sure those you’re soliciting know what to expect. Donors and others you’re soliciting don’t like to be surprised by more or less emails than they anticipate. Let email recipients know right from the start what information you’ll be sending them, and how often. This goes for your regular monthly eNewsletters, and other email communications, including fundraising emails.

#2: Don’t Over-Promise Then Under-Deliver. In order to increase open rates, sometimes development marketers promise the moon with deceptive subject lines, then fail to deliver on the promise. Remember, open rates are only one criteria for judging the success of your email fundraising campaign. Conversion rates (or how often your recipients take action as a result of your email) are the real test of the effectiveness of your email solicitations. If you don’t deliver on the promise of your subject line, then your donors and prospective donors might decide to give elsewhere.

#3: Personalize Your Emails, But Vet the Information First. Personalizing emails is an effective strategy; however, it’s counterproductive if the name on the email isn’t right. Be sure to vet the information for accuracy, before doing a blanket SEND to your email marketing list.

#4: Segment Your Mailing List: Email segmenting can be very effective for target marketing to various demographic groups. You can segment your list by age, marital status, income level, when a donor is in the giving cycle, etc., and send content and messages that appeal directly to each specific segment.

#5: Test The Effectiveness of Your Emails Before You Send Them. In addition to testing personalization, you can also test the effectiveness of your emails by testing which pieces of content, calls to action and subject lines have the highest click-through rates. Divide your email list into two equal groups and send an A/B split test of your email to see which performs best.

#6: Focus on Content Versus Donations. When the main topic of your email is ‘Donate Now’ versus content that’s of interest to your supporters, your email fundraising campaign could come up short. Focus the content of your emails on what’s of interest to your supporters from their point of view. Establish trust and make an emotional connection before you close for greater impact and results.

#7: Include a Call to Action (CTA). The key to any effective solicitation is having one or multiple calls to action in your email. A call to action is some actionable, concrete next step for your donor or prospective donor to take that brings them into the fold of your organization, and ultimately, closer to writing a check, or making a donation online. Some examples of calls to action include:

  • Learn How You Can Help
  • Click to Volunteer
  • Sign Up for Our Monthly Newsletter
  • Volunteer Today
  • Donate Now.

#8: Proof and Reproof for Spelling and Grammar Errors. Donors often judge an organization by what’s in the details, i.e., whether or not your marketing and fundraising communications are error-free. If you’re the author of an email or eNewsletter, be sure to proofread your draft multiple times for spelling and grammar errors. Then, ask a colleague that has a keen eye for detail to proofread the copy again, and again.  Online tools such as grammarly.com can also help.

 

There are few ways that are as effective and affordable to get the word out about your business or nonprofit than email marketing. If done right, email marketing provides a regular system of ‘touch points’ with your target audience that will engage them in our organization, and keep them coming back for more. Here are the latest in best practices for creating a winning email marketing campaign.

Make sure the information you’re providing is really useful. The best emails and other social media posts provide useful information to readers. It might not be about your organization, directly; however, it should be somewhat related, useful and of interest. As an example, a post was shared on LinkedIn about the best states for women entrepreneurs. As the author of the post was a female entrepreneur, the thought was that this would be relevant and useful to other women entrepreneurs. Using statistics and providing useful data about your target audience’s field is another way to add value through your email marketing that has a higher chance of being read.

Keep your content brief. People are busy today, very busy, and they don’t have time to digest anything that isn’t interesting to them personally, or essential for their professional success. If you’re providing short bits of interesting, useful content, along with info graphics, engaging charts, graphs, photos and other visuals your audience can read at a glance, they will be more likely to take a look. Email marketing gurus today advise somewhere in the range of 50 to 125 words maximum for each email—resulting in a 50% higher response rate than longer emails.

Have a specific or personalized subject line. Your email marketing campaign all begins with your subject line. You can have the most interesting information and graphics in your email, but if your readers aren’t opening your emails, your message becomes a moot point. Having a specific or personalized subject line gives readers a clearer idea of what to expect when they read your email. As an example, you might have a catchy title for a fundraiser like: Mingle With the Stars. However, according to email marketing experts, you’ll get higher click-throughs if your subject line reads instead: Mingle With Tom Brady!

Design your emails for mobile devices. Email open rates on mobile devices are on the rise. Today, approximately 55% of mobile users opening emails on their Smart phones and other mobile devices, per data driven email experts, WhatCounts. Because of this, it’s important to design and code your emails with mobile users in mind. Statistics show that 80% of mobile users will delete your emails that aren’t mobile optimized.

Integrate with social media. Sending an email that offers a promotion is a popular trend in email marketing that’s somewhat effective. However, it’s not as effective as social sharing. Just one subscriber sharing your email with their network can get your content out there to a lot more people—exponentially. Think about creating emails that are interesting enough for readers to share on their social networks. Think about emails you share yourself. It’s also important to plan and coordinate your organization’s social media campaign around your email marketing campaign. It’s a fine line between keeping a good flow of information going, and bombarding your target audience with too much content. That’s why coordinating your social and email marketing campaigns ensures a consistent, yet not overwhelming flow of useful information aimed at your target audience that will inspire them to take action.

Build a great email list. Having useful and engaging email content is the first step. Your organization also needs a great email distribution list so you know your emails are going to an audience that has largely expressed interest in what you offer. A qualified email list, i.e., built over time from emails voluntarily provided to your organization by prospective clients, members, donors and constituents is worth its weight in gold. 

Analyze Your Results. Finally, it’s important to analyze the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign so you can continue to improve your approach and conversion rate of interested readers to engaged participants at all levels of the organization. Sending emails over and over without knowing the effectiveness of your effort is like shooting arrows into the dark hoping to hit something.  As you try different email marketing techniques, be sure to track at the minimum these key metrics:

  • Delivery rates
  • Open rates
  • Click-to-delivery rates
  • Subscriber retention rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Longevity and depth of visit
  • Actions completed
  • Macro & micro conversions, and
  • Average value per email sent.