How to Write a Fundraising Drip Campaign
A drip campaign is a series of communications, usually emails, about a single topic that are sent, or "dripped," in a specific order on a predetermined schedule.
Drip campaigns are better known in commercial marketing than they are among nonprofits. They are seen as a way to deal with the "Rule of 7," another term that is more familiar to commercial marketers than fundraisers. According to the Rule of 7, it takes an average of seven exposures to a message before it sinks in enough to engage your target and make him or her a regular supporter.
Drip campaigns create those exposures in a tactical way that dovetails with your overall strategic plan. They help build relationships and increase retention, donations and average gift amounts by raising top-of-mind awareness and building an escalating emotional connection with readers. Here are 11 tips to help you get more drip for your buck:
- Determine your fundraising goal. Be specific about what you want your campaign to accomplish. Are you trying to retain donors? Get more gifts per donor per year? Increase average gift amounts? Convert first time donors? Be clear about what you want to accomplish so you can accurately measure your results.
- Write in a logical sequence. Think of the emails as very short chapters in a very short book.
- Stick to a single theme. Create a drip campaign for an Annual Fund or Matching Gift campaign, for example.
- Make the messages interdependent. Each email should be complete enough to stand on its own, but also build on the emails that preceded it.
- Write all the emails in advance. It helps you stay focused and makes it easier to have smooth segues from one message to the next. If circumstances change, or an unexpected event happens, you can always revise a message before it deploys.
- Review each message before it deploys, just to make sure there's no new information you have to include.
- Keep the emails short. Drip campaigns actually give you the luxury of saying as much as you want, but say it in small, easy-to-digest bites. It's better to add more emails to the campaign than to make an email longer.
- Ask every time. If you're worried about asking too many times, you can make some of them soft asks, like, "The ongoing support of friends like you makes our work possible." But be assertive most of the time: "We urgently need your most generous gift now!"
- Always include a link to a donation page. Even if you don't ask at all (not recommended, but I know how things go sometimes), you need to give your readers an easy way to respond if the spirit moves them.
- Write a separate landing page for each email. It will help donors stay focused on the specific message they are responding to ... and increase the chances they'll make more than one gift in the same campaign.
- Offer readers the chance to give again. On each landing page, say something like, "If you've already donated to this Spring Drive, thank you! If not, or if you'd like your support to have even more impact, please make a gift now."
One of the upsides to social media and multichannel marketing is that it levels the playing field so organizations don't necessarily need huge budgets to compete for attention. One of the trade-offs is that the playing field is a lot more crowded, so there's more competition for a reader's attention. Drip campaigns give you a legitimate reason to be in front of your donors more often, which will help make your organization, and the campaign, a little stickier.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.