DMFA E-mail Renewal Package of the Year: amfAR Holiday/Year-End E-mail
[Editor’s note: The Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association honored its 2011 Package of the Year Winners in September. FundRaising Success is highlighting some of the winning packages. View the 2011 Package of the Year and Renewal Package of the Year winner here, and the Acquisition Package of the Year here. Today we highlight the E-mail Renewal Package of the Year.]
Last week, Paul Habig, executive vice president of online nonprofit marketing agency SankyNet, provided four e-mail fundraising campaign best practices, all of which SankyNet employed along with amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research in its 2011 Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA) E-mail Renewal Package of the Year. Here, FundRaising Success looks at amfAR’s winning campaign, the holiday/year-end e-mail.
While the DMFA’s criteria for the e-mail renewal category was for one particular e-mail, the year-end message amfAR sent was actually part of a larger multichannel campaign. Starting earlier in the year, amfAR started a campaign centered around World AIDS Day, which included e-mails, website promotions, social media, direct mail and outside advertising on platforms like Care2. A follow-up e-mail and then another e-mail were sent as part of that campaign, and in those e-mails the holiday e-card was promoted.
And this winning holiday/year-end postcard e-mail was the final phase of that cohesive multichannel campaign.
“We had a series of e-mails going out to various different segments of [amfAR’s] donor population,” Habig says. “But the final campaign, the most successful e-mail was the year-end campaign to remind people about the advantage of making a tax-deduction gift before the end of the calendar year.”
To play that up, SankyNet and amfAR created a short and sweet e-mail that had only about 40-60 words of text and a calendar with New Year’s Eve circled to highlight the importance of the year-end gift. All of this was by design. The e-mail intentionally had everything “above the fold,” so recipients didn’t have to scroll down at all and could easily scan the information — vital for e-mail.
“We realize that during this time of the year people have very little time, so we created these postcard formats,” Habig says. “This format was particularly attractive with the calendar on it, copy that’s very succinct and making the case to give, and making sure all of the copy and images when they view in someone’s e-mail client stay above the fold.”
The e-mail was also accompanied by a lightbox on amfAR’s website, a transparency that covered the homepage and had similar graphics as the e-mail itself.
The e-mail hit donors on Dec. 29, just three days before the new year. It went to 59,121 amfAR donors and had a response rate of 0.40 percent, bringing in $40,480 by itself. The cost to raise a dollar was just 6 cents, and the average gift was $176.
Further, the entire integrated campaign — prior e-mails, direct mail, the lightbox, banner ads, targeted website copy, etc. — raised $115,825 from 681 gifts, with a response rate of 0.57 percent.
Habig says this e-mail was so successful in lifting the overall campaign for a number of reasons. For starters, it had a very clean design that recipients’ eyes were drawn to. Also, the deadline highlighted by the calendar with such a short time to respond created an enticing sense of urgency. Also, the message was well-branded with amfAR’s overall brand, and the look and feel were very consistent with all the organization’s other mediums. Keeping everything above the fold also was key, providing a strong visual impact that got the entire message across quickly. And there was a very easy way to click to donate and go straight to the donation form to get that conversion.
But, Habig stresses, the integration with a larger multichannel campaign was perhaps the most important aspect of this winner.
“This e-mail might have been one, but there were a dozen other components that went into this and they all integrated with each other,” he says. “Best practices, time and segmentation — we took those all into account in the overall strategy.
“This was a really attractive e-mail, and we’re really pleased and proud that it won,” Habig adds. “But the success of it really was that everything set off of each other and the looks and feel were all branded with each other and we had a consistent message going out between the end of November all the way to December. That’s a really great take-home; organizations need to be mindful of that.”