Exercises in Motivation – Refreshing Your eRenewal Series Is Totally Worth it

Date Published
Brett Jones

We know how busy you are. There are SO many other things on the priority list that take precedence over updating the eRenewal series, right? Your eRenewals have been chugging along for the last three years just fine, thank you very much!

But. Are they really okay? How long has it been since you’ve checked those results anyway?

If you haven’t analyzed performance in the last 6 months, it might be time to dust off your data hat – you’ve got a party to go to.

Why is it important to audit your eRenewals?

The biggest reason to refresh eRenewals is that we get used to things pretty quickly. When something like an email that we get on a regular basis becomes monotonous, we tend to ignore it.

But, we always pay attention to a shiny, new thing!

For fundraisers, this means that we have to find ways of applying attention- grabbing tactics to our ongoing email series.

Want some proof?

KDFC, a classical music station in San Francisco, had been using essentially the same eRenewal series for a few years – only minor updates had been made.

Along with practicing better email hygiene (like excluding email records that don’t actively open or click emails going back 6 months), the eRenewal series was entirely rewritten with new subject lines, was edited for brevity, and was enhanced with a strong case for giving.

The new email series was first deployed in December 2018, and the results have been tremendous. Comparing the five-month period of results year-over-year:

  • Response rate has increased by an astounding 90%.
  • 2,000 fewer emails were sent – data hygiene is key – but 46 more donors renewed.
  • Average Gift grew from $91 to $103 – without an increased ask string.
  • KDFC collected $5,500 more in revenue.

Want more proof?

The South Carolina ETV Endowment noticed eRenewal results starting to slip a few years ago.

We refreshed the entire series, which up until then had an identical subject line each month, had limited graphic interest, and used stiff and formal language.

The new series varies the subject lines, deploys a colored background along with images of favorite PBS programs “above the fold,” and uses informal, friendly language in quick-to-read bursts. A large donate button appears at both the top and bottom of each email. A personalized, renewal gift amount directs the response on each appeal. When a donor clicks through, he/she is met with a donation page that clearly and simply leads through the donation process.

The ETV Endowment was very happy to be back “in the money” with its eRenewals!

  • In the first year, the response rates climbed from well below 1% to an average of 1.25%.
  • In the following year, the overall average response rate went up to 3%, and in the current year it has jumped to nearly 5%.
  • Average gifts are up to the $70 to $80 range.
  • At calendar year end, some emails in the series achieved response rates of 15% to 19%, with average gifts of over $100!
  • And monthly revenue totals have climbed from the low $1,000s to an average of $14,000 to $15,000 per month.

Remember, we always pay attention to a shiny, new thing.

In the midst of your busy day, set some time aside to take a look at that set-it-and-forgot-it eRenewal series of yours. You might be surprised at what implementing just a few small tweaks can do. Or – give us a call. AFG can help you with copy and creative recommendations. Or we can take the whole program off of your plate so that you can get back to that crazy priority list of yours.

About the Author:
Brett Jones
Vice President of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

I lead the Agency Services Client Management team. I challenge the team to continually improve our strategy, creative and service, and develop new ideas, so we can provide better solutions and outcomes to our clients.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love fundraising! In my career I have had the chance to work with many different organizations that are doing incredible work and really making a difference. I enjoy helping them meet and exceed their goals so they can advance their missions. 

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

I have always wanted to work with non-profits and love fundraising. It’s my way of contributing to the greater good. I can’t imagine what else I would do!

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I love reading, ice skating, and going to the beach in the summer, but most of I love spending time with my daughter.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Brett is my middle name. I’m actually Sara Brett. But don’t call me Sara if you want me to answer!

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. I was so proud of myself. I was so excited to visit my neighborhood friends by myself.

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