How to Execute Your Peer-to-Peer Email Communications Plan
So, you’ve created a strategy for your peer-to-peer email communications. You’ve segmented your audience, built compelling content and prepared to design emails that will grab your readers’ attention.
Now there’s one thing left to do: Start executing on your plan (and find ways to improve it).
Let’s explore some email execution tips and techniques from an email communications workshop I presented with peer-to-peer fundraising experts during It’s a Peer-to-Peer World. These pointers will help you bring your email communications to life and analyze results so that you can continue to make improvements.
Execute Your Email Communications Plan
There are three main technology functions you will need to execute on your email communications plan. These are: the ability to build messages, send messages and report on email message performance.
While capabilities will vary depending on the software platform you use, here is the typical functionality you will need to employ:
1. Email building
- Some type of drag-and-drop visual editing environment
- Content personalization/customization
2. Email sending
- Audience creation, including segmentation and conditionalized content
- The ability to schedule email sends or send messages in real time
- Set up auto-responder emails (system-generated emails)
3. Email reporting
- Tracking of email open, click-through, action taken rates, etc.
- Hard and soft bounce counts/rates
Analyze the Performance of Your Email Communications
To make sure your email messages are performing as well as possible, it’s critically important to set up and analyze reports for your events and campaigns. Here are a few helpful tips:
1. Decide What to Track
Determine the key performance metrics for your email communications. These will typically include click-through and unsubscribe rates. However, they also include action taken rates, such as:
- How many people registered for the campaign or event
- How many registered, but did not raise funds
- How many people raised funds, and how much did they raise, on average
- Did certain groups raise more than others
2. Determine Your Projected Performance Targets
You can use past performance to help you estimate what your target metrics should be. If you don’t have previous metrics, or if you want additional data points, another way to determine projected targets is to use industry benchmarks.
Multiple companies and organizations that serve the nonprofit sector produce industry benchmark studies that provide helpful insights, including email marketing benchmarks and peer-to-peer fundraising benchmarks. Here are just a few:
- Blackbaud’s “Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study”
- Classy’s “The State of Modern Philanthropy” report
- M+R Benchmarks research
- The Peer-to-Peer Forum’s “Peer-to-Peer Top 30” study
- Tiltify’s “The State of Digital P2P Fundraising 2021” report
3. Allocate Time for Measurement and Analysis
The benefits of tracking and analyzing your results are threefold. It can help you:
- During the campaign by determining how your event is performing so you can make improvements throughout the campaign.
- After the campaign by evaluating how your event performed so you can determine if it met expectations and, if not, then why?
- Before the next campaign by using metrics from the current year to determine what you might do differently as you plan the next campaign or event. Items, such as changes to email communications or tweaks to what you measure and analyze along the way.
A good way to think about what to measure and when, at a minimum, is to think about the key actions you’re trying to inspire your audiences to take. For example:
- How many new registrations are you getting/did you get?
- What percentage of your audience raised funds?
- Which groups of your audience raised more funds than others?
- How many people are returning registrants?
Now, set up reports to track your results. And be sure to set aside time during and after the campaign or event to analyze your results compared with your performance targets and industry benchmarks.
4. Consider If It’s Time for a Change
As you analyze your results, think about opportunities for improvement. Here are some things to consider:
- Communications. Are your recruitment and fundraising results falling short of your performance targets? Maybe you can make small (or even larger) tweaks to improve them.
- Campaign type. Does it seem like your campaign or event has reached the limit of what it can do? Maybe it’s time to add a new virtual campaign? Or, if you’re running a virtual campaign, what about adding a physical event?
- Software platform. Is your platform holding you back? Maybe your participants are leaving part-way through the registration process. Perhaps your staff is having trouble managing email communications and setting up reports. Or, maybe your platform doesn’t work well with your other software systems. If any of this is the case, it might be time for a change.
Editor's Note: This is part of a series on peer-to-peer fundraising email communications.
Part 1: How to Build a Great Email Strategy for Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Part 2: Finding the Right Timing for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Email Communications
Part 3: Audience Segmentation Tips for Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Emails
Part 4: Tips for Creating Compelling Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Email Content
Part 5: How to Execute Your Peer-to-Peer Email Communications Plan
Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008 to help nonprofit organizations get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits.
Mark also serves on the editorial advisory board for NonProfit PRO, where he contributes monthly to his blog, “Nonprofit Tech Matters.”