Is your nonprofit emailing constituents often enough? Do you have a fundraising email calendar? Do you know your organization’s email open rate, click-to-open rate, and opt-out rates?
If you can’t answer these questions, then you probably don’t have a comprehensive or proper email fundraising strategy, and you are most likely leaving money on the table that someone else is picking up. In my career, I’ve seen a wide disparity across my clients in terms of their approach to email. But the ones who did take the time to develop a strategy and grow their email file usually saw strong returns in a relatively short time. Think about it – have you used email today? Of course you have! And so have your donors.
How do you know if you need to email more? Well, let’s look at the data.
According to the 2017 M+R BenchMarks report:
- The average nonprofit sent 24 fundraising emails per subscriber last year.
- Did your organization send at least 2 fundraising emails per month last year?
- 26% of nonprofit on-line revenue came from email in 2017,
- Did you raise 26% of your online revenue from email last year?
- The average email subscriber received 5 fundraising messages per month last year
- How many were from YOUR organization?
If your organization is not sending fundraising emails with the frequency or revenue results detailed above, chances are you are underutilizing email for your fundraising. It’s time to build out your email program strategy!
Email fundraising strategy is more than just sending an email or two on Giving Tuesday and during year-end fundraising. Just as you would with direct mail, your organization should have an annual email fundraising budget and schedule, and a coordinated content calendar to support it. Email offers your organization a chance to develop a communication cadence with its donors. Donors begin to expect your emails. This helps keep them engaged. And engaged donors give more frequently.
But effective email strategy is also more than just creating a yearly calendar. You also need to spend time segmenting your email file. Segmentation is THE key strategic element when building your program. Creating segments based on donor behavior, giving level, and membership level can help you determine their email frequency, messaging, and ask strategy. This segmentation will optimize performance, and allow for more informative, actionable results analysis. (Donation pages are a critical part of this segmentation – they should also be specific to the email and segment. This allows for accurate revenue attribution and analysis.)
When planning your email strategy, make sure you plan for the emails to be readable and actionable across all platforms. A 2016 Benchmarks report from eMarketer reports that, in 2016, email open rates on mobile devices surpassed those on desktops for the first time. Yet conversions on mobile devices are still far below conversions on desktops. The lesson here is that emailers are not designing their email with mobile in mind. Remember, each email is an opportunity for a donor to give. If you don’t create the optimal user experience for them to complete the transaction, they simply won’t.
Email today is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to overlook in your fundraising strategy. But a thoughtful, intelligently planned email program can create great returns in a relatively short time. Shouldn’t your organization be taking full advantage of this critical fundraising channel?
Want to learn more about email fundraising? Contact us today!