A Sentence Can Make or Break Your Email Fundraising
Every single sentence in your email appeals is critical to your email fundraising success. We learned this through an experiment we conducted with the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Before their grand opening, the George W. Bush Presidential Center was running an acquisition campaign to recruit founding members. As part of this campaign, we had rented email lists to which we were sending email appeals, inviting likely donors to make a contribution.
Our initial efforts were doing alright, but we knew we were leaving donations on the table. There had to be room to optimize our email fundraising.
Our Original Email
So we looked at our original email. The primary call to action said: “Stand with President and Mrs. Bush by making a tax-deductible contribution.”
Now, other experiments have shown us that the most important factor that influences conversion is your value proposition. And the most important tool you have to communicate your value proposition is your copy. The goal is to communicate the value of the offer as clearly as possible.
In this email, we hypothesized that the call-to-action “Stand with President and Mrs. Bush” was too vague, and it didn’t communicate the actual action we wanted them to take.
Additionally, we want to make sure our value proposition is exclusive. No other organization should be able to make the same claims as yours. In this email, the call-to-action asked donors to make a “tax-deductible contribution.”
The problem here is that every other nonprofit could ask someone to make a tax-deductible donation. This call-to-action had little to no exclusivity.
Testing a New Call-to-Action
We wondered if we could lift conversion rates by increasing the clarity of the call-to-action and making the offer more exclusive.
So, we created a new call-to-action that said, “Become a Charter Member of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.” Everything else in the email remained exactly the same.
We ran an A/B test, sending the control (the original email) to half of the recipients and the treatment (the new email) to the other half.
The treatment email had a 141 percent increase in click-through-rate. But even more importantly, we saw a 42 percent increase in revenue.
Value Proposition is King
We love to see big lifts and green arrows, but what we can learn about our donors is far more valuable than the immediate lift.
In this case, there’s an important learning that we can apply well beyond this one email. That learning is that our message—our value proposition—is the most influential factor on a donor's likelihood to give a gift. And as we increase the force of our value proposition, we can increase our fundraising revenue.
Every potential donor we email is asking the same, fundamental value proposition question: “Why should I give to you instead of some other organization or not at all?” When that answer is unclear and lacks exclusivity, donors are more likely to abandon the donation process.
So, if you’re looking to grow your email revenue, consider how you can increase the clarity and exclusivity of your value proposition in your email call-to-action. It might just help your email grow from adequate to excellent.