Web Bonus: The Art and Science of e-Cultivation
Of course, before you can get constituents to donate, you need to get them to open your message and click through to the landing page on your Web site. Organizations have found significant variation in open rates based on the subject line of their e-mail messages. For example, Consumers Union recently conducted a test of subject lines and found that when it sharpened its letter and created a new subject line, open rates and click-throughs were significantly above the organization’s average. In addition to your subject line, several other factors affect open rates, including the content of your e-mail message, clarity of the donation process and incentives to respond.
One of the challenges in using open rates is accuracy. A growing number of e-mail clients block open-rate trackers, which has created a large and increasing amount of systematic errors in open rates. So if you’re going to track open rates, be sure to compare “apples to apples” — the same ISPs, time frames, similar types of message, etc.
While the value of measuring open and click-through rates continues to be debated, organizations are well-advised to monitor trends on these metrics. If a trend changes precipitously, adjust your strategies and tactics.
Benchmarking your key metrics against peer organizations can provide an accurate picture of how your strategies and tactics are performing across the sector. Be sure to compare your results against organizations in the same vertical segment, with a similar budget and e-mail file. To improve key performance metrics, consider these strategies and tactics:
1. Offer compelling content. Provide opportunities for user-contributed content to turn static copy into a conversation. Get your supporters to tell their stories online and comment on articles. For example, Trisomy 18 Foundation has realized significant list growth and additional fundraising through personal tribute pages that allow people to create sites in memory or in honor of someone, and share their inspirational stories, photos and updates.