Want to take your digital fundraising program to the next level but don’t know where to begin? Here’s some expert advice from the leaders in the nonprofit marketing world gleaned from this year’s Bridge Conference.
“Learn from the Leaders in Nonprofit Digital Marketing: How to Supercharge Your 2019 Fundraising Program”.
- Angela Ely, Director, Email Marketing, American Cancer Society
- Sarah Robie, Online Marketing Manager, World Wildlife Fund
- Andrea Kost, Online Giving Manager, Amnesty International USA
Key Takeaways from the Session:
1. The list churn struggle is real
It doesn’t matter if your marketing to sneakerheads, accounting firms, or nonprofit donors, no email list is immune to bouncing and unresponsive email addresses.
A big chunk of the typical email database goes stale each year. This happens when subscribers:
- Stop opening your emails; or
- Change their email address without telling you.
What’s a donor email address worth to your nonprofit? Ten cents? $1, $20 dollars? Can your digital fundraising campaign afford to lose a significant number email addresses every year without a plan in pace to fill the gap?
Here are some of Angela Ely’s recommendations for offsetting churn:
Focus on your site:
Organic acquisition is free acquisition. Free and engaged – these people came to your website and raised their hand to receive emails from you. Do your best to leverage this source.
- Do you have a lightbox popups on your site? If so, think about how visitors can sign up or donate when they can’t see it or it’s not running.
- Make sure you can track donations from your website. This will make it easier down the road if you need to lobby for more visibility or push to get lightboxes on more pages.
But be strategic:
Many visitors come to nonprofit websites for information on sensitive issues. Make sure that your digital fundraising strategy doesn’t interfere with their journey. The American Cancer society does this well with a “Donate” call-to-action in their site’s header and footer. It’s not at all intrusive, but the red buttons are hard to miss.
Explore paid sources (carefully):
Email appending is a great way to reach more supporters via email. Vet vendors carefully and choose one with a solid email validation and hygiene service. If you don’t, you’re going to pay for bad email data that will drive down deliverability and could leave you worse off than you were before you started.
Not sure where to start? This vendor checklist will get you moving in the right direction.
2. Secure your email collection points
Every bad email address you collect represents a lost opportunity and a potential deliverability threat. If you can’t reach the inbox, your nonprofit will never generate the opens, clicks, and donations it needs to thrive. Audit your email collection points to ensure that only clean and accurate email addresses make it into your database.
Sarah Robie detailed how the WWF secured its email capture process with an email validation solution. This produced many benefits, including:
- Thwarting bots and card attackers
- WWF no longer having to pay 3rd party sources for invalid email addresses
- Ensuring that every captured supporter email address is accurate
- Avoiding spamtraps and unnecessary deliverability problems
3. When it comes to sending emails, less is more
We get it. Tightening your email lists and removing un-engaged subscribers can be painful. Those people might become online donors some day!
In the meantime, sending to these unresponsive contacts can limit your ability to reach your most enthusiastic supporters.
The goal isn’t to send more emails to bigger list of potential donors. It’s to send more emails to more engaged subscribers.
Here’s how to get started:
- Re-evaluate your segmentation with an eye on who’s most likely to respond to your email.
- Pare down your list and send more personalized messaging to your most engaged segments.
- Don’t be afraid to rethink aspects of your campaign that you hold sacred. This includes timing, offers, and even your celebrity spokesperson. Use data, not your heart, to inform these decisions.
In her segment, Andrea Kost outlined how Amnesty International did this. The results speak for themselves: improved deliverability, more opens, and more donations!
Want to learn more about this session? You can access the presentation here.