How Nonprofit Marketers Can Retain Donors with Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the top channels for nonprofit marketers to communicate with key audiences. For nonprofit marketers, email marketing can help to retain existing donors but also to convert new ones through relevant, personalized and valuable content. While it seems simple, increasing conversion rate through email and keeping existing donors fully engaged requires strategy, but it can go a long way to help impress and retain donors.
Through the following three steps, nonprofit marketers can benefit from boosted donor retention and conversion. Plus, make email campaigns more useful as a direct communication channel for donors to engage with.
1. Provide Unique Donation Tools
Because of its adaptability and reliability, email is perfect for addressing the two core needs of nonprofit donor engagement: donor retention and conversion. This makes it easy to provide donation tools in your email messages to donors.
It’s important to make your message immediately interesting and help your recipients to feel more engaged. While it’s easy to simply link to your donation page at the end of an email, this strategy relies too heavily on the assumption that your email recipients will always have the time and interest to click through. Instead, the easiest way to encourage donations and boost email engagement is to provide unique donation tools that make the interaction feel like more than just a donation.
Digital donation tools can help to do this in a few ways:
- Deepening direct engagement. Think of online fundraising campaigns like crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising. By making one of these campaigns the call-to-action of your email, you invite supporters to get directly engaged with the fundraising process.
- Encouraging new types of engagement. Your email can also explain new donation methods that you’re incorporating into your next campaign. Text-to-give and mobile bidding tools are extremely engaging for many donors and event attendees.
- Increasing donor impact. Helping donors feel even better about supporting your work is a great strategy for increasing retention and donation upgrades. Linking out to matching gift search tools on your website is another way for supporters to double the impact of their gifts.
2. Optimize Subject Lines
The subject line of your message is one of the most critical components of an email as it determines how a recipient will engage with your message—including whether they even open it.
This is especially true in a time when the average consumer is inundated with advertising emails on a daily basis. When you’re relying on your email marketing to engage and convert new donors to support your nonprofit’s work, it’s crucial that you carefully consider even the smallest details of your subject line.
An effective email subject line will adhere to a number of key characteristics, but should generally be concise, personalized, focused and truthful. It’s also important that it implies an action of some sort, for example through an invitation or an announcement.
Remember, never neglect your email’s subject line. Some careful thought at this stage of your email marketing will go a long way to boost the open rate necessary to engage donors.
3. Personalize Your Message
Donors are much more likely to engage if they see their name in the subject line. For nonprofit marketers, automatically personalizing email campaigns can be relatively easy through a CRM or donor database system.
Another powerful personalization strategy for donor communications is segmentation. This is a necessity for smart marketing and fundraising, which is why it’s a core feature of most advocacy software solutions.
Regardless of the scope of your fundraising goals, targeting your email campaigns to specific segments of your donor base is a way to keep messages completely relevant to the ways that donors have historically engaged with your work. For instance, use your donor records to segment your mailing list into some key groups, like recurring donors, past donors, members, volunteers and newsletter recipients. Once identified, each of these groups should receive a different email message targeted specifically to their relationship with your organization.
Overall, segmenting email campaigns not only allows you to better target each group and increase engagement, it also simplifies the entire email marketing process for your organization.
While it’s essential to optimize marketing so that recipients will be more likely to engage with your message, don’t let that engagement stop once they finish reading your email. Always directly call for further engagement and provide a way to do it. In most cases, this will be making an online donation, and you can market it with the unique donation tools.
Finally, as one of the most tried-and-true marketing outlets for nonprofits, your organization’s email marketing strategies must be optimized and adaptable. Look over your current strategy and identify some points that could use improvement. And of course, follow these best practices to ensure that your email campaigns not only help you retain your existing donors and supporters but also convert new donors.
Nora Snoddy is the director of demand programs at Campaign Monitor, a global email marketing company that offers a range of solutions to help marketers create meaningful, lasting connections with their audience.