Year-End Email Under a Microscope
The things that some people do to help us all learn. This is one of the reasons I just love Steve MacLaughlin, director of analytics at Blackbaud. Steve goes to great lengths to provide insight to us all, and he has done it again with his annual review of year-end fundraising email subject lines.
Steve received 445 emails from 74 nonprofit organizations between Dec. 1 and 31, 2014. In his report, he shares every single (yep, all 445) subject lines along with information on timing and delivery dates. There are great nuggets in here, and it's just fun being a bit of an email stalker and looking at all the "obvious" and also "unique" subject lines.
Take a look at his article, but here are a few of the items that caught my eye …
- Dec. 2 and Dec. 31 had the highest volume and greatly surpassed most of the other days in December. Dec. 30 was a close runner-up but still not to the volume of the 2nd and 31st.
- Weekdays were heavier than weekends for nonprofit communication.
- Not shocking, 2014 volume is definitely higher than 2013.
- Steve begs what I call the "chicken/egg" question around email delivery and online donations. But his data clearly shows that there is a peek time that at least these nonprofits were sending their emails — it appears that 11 a.m. is the most "favorite" time to press send.
- Ever wondered just how many emails you should send during this critical giving period? Well, looking across these 74 organizations, Steve determined that the median was six. Obviously, there are those who sent way more, but the data point he shares is great.
- Steve also highlights some campaigns that really caught his eye, and I'm not going to steal his thunder — you'll have to check out his article for yourself.
Steve has done these assessments for several years in a row. One thing is for sure, our industry is getting better at this email game. Some of the subject lines are a bit odd or perhaps not really a best practice — and of course there are the organizations that clearly abuse our inboxes — but overall we seem to be gravitating to better strategies.
While we can't tell from Steve's study about better targeting, I'm willing to bet that we still have some work to do here. Segmentation of our online donors has not been a high priority in the past due to the perceived "cheapness" of email marketing. What many of us have now realized is the "cost" for poor email communication (too much, too often, too generic) is the loss of an online relationship, which has a high cost. Learn from Steve's findings for the last few years, and take a look at your December campaigns.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.