Quick … what percentage of your emails is opened on a mobile device? You’ve probably heard the macro statistics, but odds are you don’t know the answer for your organization.
Hint: It’s probably a lot. And the data suggests that the numbers are increasing. All of which means your organization might be missing out — on engagement opportunities, donors and more.
Depending on the audience, product and email type, multiple sources who track this data report 50 percent or more of email opens happen on smartphones. And that number is growing rapidly. Two-thirds of Americans have smartphones — plus there are millions of iPads and other tablets in use.
If your organization’s messages aren’t getting read, your constituents aren’t engaging. And if they aren’t engaging, they probably aren’t donating. Our quick check of nonprofit emails in our inboxes suggests that the vast majority are not mobile-friendly. (In fact, we found only three that are! One of your authors must note that his organization has — as yet — only mobile-optimized some of its emails.)
We know you are smart. You understand that your donors and constituents would respond better if they could interact with you more effectively “on the go.” You also understand that there is an investment necessary to make the switch — whether that is staff or consultants’ time. So, if you are to convince your boss, you need data.
Is it worth it?
The folks at Engaging Networks reported on Humane Society International’s (HSI) fundraising for its Protect Seals campaign in this case study. We found it fascinating that the organization’s 2013 year-end revenue from mobile devices increased sixfold when compared to mobile device year-end revenue from 2012. So we dug a little deeper. Being the skeptics we are, we thought … well, its revenue increased so dramatically because it had a bigger file … or because it sent more emails … or because it has lots of international donors who are more comfortable with mobile transactions …
Elise Ledsinger, online fundraising manager at HSI, was generous enough to share a few more data points that drove home the value of mobile optimization.
First, she reported that when HSI optimized its donation form, conversion rates doubled from year-end 2012 compared to year-end 2013. In 2012, 3.1 percent of mobile website visitors converted to donors, and in 2013 that number grew to 6.2 percent. Impressive, for sure. Plus, online fundraising, in the year since the organization switched forms, increased by 76 percent.
When we talked to Ledsinger, the story became far more interesting. You see, HSI, the international arm of the Humane Society of the United States, not surprisingly does work and has constituents in other countries. However, more than half of its supporters are based in the U.S. So while some of the lift might be attributed to the large presence of international supporters, it certainly is not the primary factor.
For HSI, this created additional layers of complexity for its mobile forms. The organization needed to ensure that when a donor read an email on her smartphone (and wanted to take action), she could make her gift in her country’s currency and the donation would be allocated to a restricted or unrestricted account depending on the campaign. The donation also would be directly deposited into the corresponding HSI country office’s bank account, depending on the currency the donor was giving in. HSI worked diligently to design a form that switches bank accounts on the back end dependent on currency but gives the donor a seamless process from start to finish. It gives even the most sophisticated marketers pause.
Working with a Web developer, over the course of six weeks, HSI went from concept to launch on its very complex forms and processing. Using responsive design, every HSI form now automatically formats depending on the screen size — regardless of whether it’s a smartphone, desktop or something in between. Plus (those of us who love sustainers will grin a bit here), HSI included a monthly giving option on the same form as a one-time donation and with the option as a “pop up,” helping increase sustainer conversion to 36 percent of
While HSI is typically diligent about A/B testing, Ledsinger reported that in this case the organization didn’t test right away. Understanding that mobile devices were becoming increasingly prevalent, it decided to take the risk and roll with the new forms. To see the versions:
- The “old” 2012 version — not mobile-optimized
- HSI’s first 2013 redesigned version
- The current mobile-optimized version, launched in late 2013
HSI’s big risk translated into a big payoff. The new forms are cleaner and less busy — ensuring that constituents can pursue their courses of action (donation or engagement) with as little impediment as possible. Stay tuned for future updates!
But wait — there’s more!
HSI isn’t the only organization improving its results with mobile optimization. Last summer, Ducks Unlimited improved the mobile experience for its constituents and within five months saw an increase in people using mobile devices (including tablets) to make donations. In fact, it has seen half of its Web traffic and a whopping 25 percent to 35 percent of online donations coming from mobile users.
But of course, you can’t stop with creating emails that are mobile-optimized and donate forms that use responsive design. Google is now optimizing mobile search based on whether or not your forms are optimized (not to mention the thousands of other variables that contributed to Google’s search algorithm! Does your website use responsive design?).
As always, we want to hear from you — what are your wins? Where are your obstacles to creating mobile-optimized emails, forms, etc.? Email Karin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff at Jregen@weta.org
(Special thanks to Tracy Lea at Engaging Networks and Elise Ledsinger at Humane Society International.)
Karin Kirchoff is vice president at MINDset Direct. Reach her at email@example.com. Jeff Regen is vice president of development at WETA TV 26 and Classical WETA 90.9 FM. reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org