NTEN Webinar Roundup: Stepping Up Your E-mail Marketing, Part 2
In Part 2 of the NTEN webinar series — Tactics for Finding More Online Donors, Members and Advocates: When Organic List Building Tactics Aren’t Enough — presenter Alia McKee, principal, Sea Change Strategies, discussed a few tactics organizations can use to get offline donors online.
Why go through the effort, you ask?
- Because these donors know you already, they'll donate across channels.
- You can deepen engagement and loyalty.
- The Web shortens response time.
- And it allows you to tap into their social circles online and help them evangelize for you there.
The International Rescue Committee sent a postcard to high-value offline donors who had given via credit card, driving them online to a tax receipt with an e-mail collection device. McKee said IRC narrowed the donor universe to only credit-card donors to minimize costs, figuring that credit-card donors would be more responsive.
The result was a 10 percent response rate and 1,000 new e-mail addresses from high-value offline donors, costing the organization only $5 per donor e-mail. Plus, donor response to the online tax receipt was very positive. Among the comments the organization received: "This is without a doubt the best service ever. Keep up the good work." "Customer friendly, helpful and easy to use. Many thanks for providing the service!" "Excellent!! All charities should provide this service."
For its "Photos From the Field" webcasts, the IRC asks constituents to vote on six photos from a group of 12 taken by IRC photographers. The photos selected then are used in a webcast featuring the photographers discussing what was happening on the ground when the photos were taken. The webcast audience then is able to ask questions.
Typically, only online constituents are invited, but IRC decided to open the webcast up and sent an invitation to a targeted segment of 6,000 offline donors within an already scheduled direct mailing. So far, it’s gotten a 5 percent response and netted 300 new e-mails. Then the IRC asks those who respond to be evangelists for the cause by inviting their friends and family to join the webcast as well.
In response to the recent Sudan crisis, in addition to its usual rapid response plan, the IRC did a phone blast to a group of offline donors for whom it had telephone numbers but no e-mail addresses. A worker who had been on the ground in Darfur made a quick pitch, trying to drive traffic to sign an urgent petition online. At the time of the webinar, the campaign had netted the organization 400 new e-mail addresses, but McKee said the jury is still out, given that it was a high cost-per-donor e-mail. Only time will tell how these donors perform online.
E-mail appends can be used to match offline donors to e-mail addresses. McKee said there is usually a 15 percent to 20 percent match rate. She recommended doing this with a reputable agency and doing it with care and a mind to not alienating donors.
McKee also shared the following tactics for tapping into donor social circles more effectively:
Don't miss offline opportunities. McKee suggested creating event hubs where attendees can get value-added information about the event and send information on the event to their friends and family members. Value-added information could be videos about speakers who are going to be at the event, mini-documentaries about the organization, etc.
The goal, McKee saud, is to give attendees information they want and need and to encourage them to send it to family/friends. E-mail collection should be front and center on hub pages and at the offline event as well.
Make it easy for donors to spread the word about you. Create a viral toolkit for donors and evangelists so they can evangelize on your behalf. McKee said this goes way beyond a tell-a-friend landing page that appears after someone takes action.
If you don't know what your donors are looking for to evangelize for you, she recommended asking. A lot of times it's webcasts, videos, mini-documentaries about the organization, a lecture series from experts at your organization that gives them an inside look into the work your organization is doing, and basic fact sheets.
"Treat donors like program partners and give them material so they can spread the word for you," she said.
Give them a reason to spread the word about you. The reason people pass content on to others is because it's special. Event information, opportunities for two-way communication, things that make donors feel like they've got an inside seat, and inspiring content and visuals are things people are most interested in passing on, McKee said.
Lastly, she shared these tactics for getting your organization out to the public:
E-mail list rental and standalone e-mails. Organizations can buy access to publications' or organizations' e-mail lists. McKee says she's seen better response when standalone e-mails promote an action rather than just ask for donations. When you're doing list buys, McKee recommended tracking your success and looking at key metrics such as number of new signups, number of new donors, revenue generated by new donors, average gift, cost per new signup and cost per new donor. Look at these metrics over time, e.g., month one, month two, month six.
Chaperoned e-mail list swaps. This is when organizations agree to send out e-mails to their constituents on another organization's behalf. McKee said these are free and can be very effective.
Co-registration. This is the process of getting opt-ins from another organization's registration process. Care2 is an example of a group that is a large source of co-registered names through its petition site.
Search engine marketing. Organizations can pay or, if they're eligible, use a Google grant to optimize keywords at a cost per click to get prospects directed to their site. McKee said she's seen the most success around year-end or emergencies in the news that people are searching for information about. Another tactic is driving traffic to action alerts or an e-mail collection device. McKee recommended organizations sign up for Google Adwords accounts and start experimenting.
She said that with search, you pay for clicks, so the goal is to get something out of it. Make the ad language as clear as possible, and set up the expectation of what you're asking the prospect to do. Make sure the language on your ad is carried through to your landing page so there's no disconnect there. Your landing page should be clean, with no navigation, and a clear call to action so prospects don't have any option but to do what it is that you want them to do.
Three "musts" for success at finding more online donors, members and advocates that McKee closed with are:
- Good landing pages. Make the action targeted.
- Targeted welcome communications. "Reach out to those who just signed up, and welcome them and let them know about things that might be of interest to them on your site," McKee said.
- Metrics. Number of new signups, number of new donors, revenue generated by new donors, average gift, cost of campaign, cost per new signup and cost per new donor.