(This is the second post in our New Year, New Heights development series. Need to catch up? Click here for our in-depth look at the three reporting tools every nonprofit should have to improve their fundraising strategy.)
Whether it’s emailing your supporters, re-engaging lapsed donors, or soliciting donations - all nonprofits rely on good emails. It’s one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. While we’re all guilty of making some email mistakes (too long of a subject line, multiple asks in one email) we’re always looking for ways to improve. In that spirit, we’ve put together 10 ways you can improve your email program this year.
1. Prioritize your deliverability
Anyone can send emails but the key to having a great email program: high deliverability rate. Did you know an average of 18.21% of emails go straight to spam? Just by improving your deliverability you could see an increase in email fundraising revenue of over 22%.
So, how do you improve your email deliverability? Your CRM provider may have an email deliverability specialist on hand. Reach out to them and see if they have any tips. If you’re an EveryAction client, you have full access to our in-house email expert - his title is even “Email Deliverability Specialist.” Not ready to talk to an expert? Lucky for you, EveryAction has a study on how you can improve your deliverability - you can access it here.
2. Mobile Optimize your forms
Over 50% percent of all users will read emails from their smartphone. If you don’t have mobile-optimized emails and donations forms, you’re losing out on those donor dollars. In today’s age it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re catering to screen widths of all sizes. Your email tool should make it easy to mobile optimize your forms. Make sure to test emails on as many screen sizes and devices as you can get your hands on.
3. Segmenting Lists
Tackling list segments can seem daunting at first but our advice for an easy way to start is to create donor personas. Donor personas are key traits that identify different types of supporters in your database. These shouldn’t just be segments based off of just age or demographic. They should be more detailed, including giving history, types of recent engagement, hobbies and interests and preferred methods of communication. Some ideas to get you started
- Lapsed Donors
- New Donors
- Engagement Only
This goes without saying but every email you send should be testing something! It's one of the easiest way to develop best practices and always improve.
Setting up A/B tests should be easy and intuitive. You can test everything from:
- Subject lines
- Call to Actions
Your email tests should deliver clear and easy to read results. In EveryAction we make it simple!
5. Include more of your team
You shouldn’t have to be an email expert to use a good CRM. But what if your email team is out sick or on vacation? There should be an easy way for team members to hop in and send an email.
Introducing Templates! This is a great way to get more people involved in your email program. For example, EveryAction’s template functionality makes it easy for the email wizards on your team to pass down ready-to-use templates to the email newbies on staff.
6. Targeting your message
While segmenting your lists is the first step, the next is to tailor your content to target your specific audience.
If you’re spending a ton of resources and staff time on A/B tests then you’re not spending enough time experimenting with sophisticated practices like reusable conditional content. While this may sound super complex, it’s actually an easy practice to implement. Conditional content allows you to use if-then statements and create dynamic ask strings, taking advantage of the rich data you have on each supporter and customizing messaging based on their individual profile.
Using EveryAction, if you have a user’s zip code you can tailor an advocacy ask containing their specific legislature.
7. Use Email to improve sustainer performance
The most common reason for lapsed sustainer donors is an expired credit card. Stop this in advance by automating an email to remind donors before their card expires asking them to update their information.
In the EveryAction toolset, you can use dynamic searches paired with our email series tool, which can automatically send requests to donors to update their self service portal a month before their credit card expires
8. Email Series
You can use email series in multiple ways with the most common being a welcome series. New donors are energized and ready to engage so after their first donation instead of adding them to your full list, slowly bring them in through a welcome series of emails starting with the first thank you for donating and going from there.
Other types of email series you should try include
- Sustaining Donor Upgrades
- One-Time donor upsells
9. Clean your list
Everyone’s least favorite part of maintaining a successful email series is cleaning your list. Over time your email list can gather users who are no longer engaged or worse have all your emails sent to spam (see deliverability).
The two keys things you should always be doing:
- Removing bounced emails from you send list
- Segmenting out inactive users who haven’t opened or clicked an email in 9 months
10. Integrate one-click asks
The less steps users have to fill between your ask and their donation the better. The best route: one-click donations.
Tools like FastAction enable nonprofits to send emails like the example below from Audubon. Users that have filled out their information through FastAction never have to do it again. With one click they can go from reading an email to becoming a donor!
There you have it, 10 email resolutions to challenge yourself for the new year. Maybe you already do some of these things or maybe you're starting from scratch! Either way, we hope this list comes in handy.
If you’re looking for more ways to revamp your development program - click here for a free tour of EveryAction.