Using 4 Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors, Part 3
[Editor’s note: This is the third and final part of a three-part series on the session, “Get Heard: Using Online Tools to Inspire Volunteers and Donors,” by Erik Mintz, director of event marketing at Constant Contact, held at the Nonprofit Technology Conference. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2.]
“If you do e-mail marketing right, it can really grow your business,” Mintz said. “If not, people will think you’re spam.”
You certainly do not want your e-mails to be filtered as spam, so make sure to avoid sending unsolicited and unwanted e-mails, e-mails from an unknown sender, and e-mails with dubious or no opt-out. If donors and supporters see your e-mails as spam, connecting with them online becomes that much more difficult.
Why is e-mail so important? Two reasons, Mintz said:
- Almost everyone your organization needs to reach reads e-mail. According to eMarketer, 91 percent of Internet users ages 18-64 send or read e-mail, an even higher number of users ages 65 or older do the same, and 147 million people across the country use e-mail — most of them every day.
- It’s more cost-effective compared to direct mail. According to Forrester Research, for the same response, direct mail costs 20 times as much as e-mail, and according to the Direct Marketing Association, e-mail return on investment is the highest when compared to other Internet marketing mediums.
The key to effective e-mail marketing is delivering professional e-mail communications to an interested audience containing information it finds valuable. To help you do that, e-mail marketing services automate these best practices:
- Provide easy-to-use templates.
- Address e-mail to recipients only.
- Manage lists.
- Include social share tools.
- Include Join My Mailing List.
- Include social-media sign-up icons.
- Improve e-mail delivery and tracking.
Before you embark on an e-mail marketing campaign, Mintz suggested asking yourself these questions:
- Do repeat and referral donors help your organization?
- Do you have a plan for delivering multiple communications?
- Is your audience interested in your message, and is it valuable to your audience?
- Can you make your e-mails look professional and reflect your brand?
- Do you have an e-mail service provider to help manage your strategy?
From there, it’s important to be able to track your e-mail communications. Important metrics include bounce rate, spam reports, opt-outs, opens, clicks, forwards, as well as social stats and tracking the calls to action. E-mail marketing is a vital cog in nonprofit communications, so make sure you do it right and track it, Mintz said.
Online surveys help fundraisers learn more about their donors and supporters, which in turn can lead to ways to better communicate with them. Online surveys collect feedback about your organization from an interested audience to improve your product and services, Mintz said. The benefits on online survey tools include:
- Providing easy-to-use templates.
- Reinforcing brand identity.
- Managing lists.
- Reporting and results.
Ask questions such as: How can I serve you better? How can I make you more comfortable? And then share that information back to people. Other best practices for online surveys Mintz offered include:
- Keep surveys short. Response rate decreases as the length increases. Try to keep it to 10 minutes or less.
- Segment your lists to avoid burnout. This helps achieve a better response.
- Good questions help meet the objective. Ask what you need to know, not what you want to know. Resist the temptation of “just one more question.” Every question should support your objective.
The key to online surveys is not the responses themselves, however. The true key is what you do with those responses. Effective fundraisers use the information provided in surveys to improve communications and deepen the relationship with donors, which is what all four of these major online communications tools — event marketing, social-media marketing, e-mail marketing and online surveys — allow fundraisers to do.