Optimizing Email for Nonprofits

According to the 2012 Nonprofit Donor Engagement Study released by NTEN,  email has become a staple in nonprofit communication strategies. With over 52% of supporters engaging with their favorite organizations via email, and at nearly one third of the cost of direct mail, its economy and power are undeniable. It also brings in $40 for every dollar spent.

In order for nonprofits to continue to leverage this channel fully, development and marketing teams need to constantly add permissioned email addresses to their databases and clean them carefully and routinely.  With the fiscal year-end right around the corner, now is the perfect time to put an action plan in place and work with a trusted partner to optimize supporter databases.  Here are four services we recommend that every nonprofit have in its toolkit:

1. Email Validation

If you’re having issues with bouncing, spamtraps, or typos and syntax errors, email cleaning and validation are a must. SafeToSend® from FreshAddress follows a patented three-step process to check your data, correct problems, and protect you from the damaging-but-deliverable email addresses that can wreak havoc on your ability to raise funds. The payoff of cleaning and validation is substantial: Safe, deliverable email addresses drive higher response rates and generate more profitable campaigns. You can also use SafeToSend to catch and correct registration errors in real time—before they enter your donor database.

2. Append

Appending helps you harness the power of multichannel marketing by matching email addresses to your donor postal records. It allows you to safely grow your email database, energize your marketing program, and create synergy across campaigns. While many companies claim they can perform email appends, caution and due diligence are critical when it comes to selecting a vendor.  Does the vendor remove damaging-but-deliverable emails and frequent complainers from your database prior to messaging?  Excessive spam complaints can quickly force your ESP to put a hard stop on email communications, threatening your future fundraising initiatives, as well as your online reputation.

3. Email Change of Address

Every year, organizations struggle with unresponsive email addresses and list attrition. In fact, on average, they lose nearly 30% of their lists. Email Change of Address (ECOA), however, can help you reconnect with inactive and lost supporters by updating addresses with active, engaged ones. All for a fraction of the cost of acquiring new supporters.  Debbie Swider, eMarketing Senior Manager for the ASPCA, found FreshAddress’s ECOA service indispensable. “ECOA has been crucial for communicating with lost members, re-engaging them to the mission, and creating a profitable fundraising outcome.”

FreshAddress recommends quarterly ECOA processing, which can help to recover up to 15% of your list.  Typically, direct mail would only be sent to your supporters after you ran them through a quarterly NCOA first. The same standard should apply to your email communications.

4. Email Scoring

One of the perennial challenges fundraisers face  – whether online or offline – is The Ask. How large of a donation should you seek? What demographics should you consider? What messages are appropriate? While making sense of data points can be overwhelming,  email scoring can provide a clear, actionable metric to help you benchmark, improve deliverability, and target more effectively. eSpend Score from FreshAddress analyzes email engagement and financial data to provide insight on how likely a supporter is to engage and donate, which is especially critical when planning for capital campaigns.

Stay tuned for our in-depth four-part series on these services and how they can help you optimize your email-driven fundraising.

 

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