With any nonprofit, it’s extremely important to be able to communicate and convey the mission of your organization to those interested in supporting your cause. With all of the communication channels to choose from these days, there’s still no more direct and personal way to reach your donors and supporters than in their inbox.
Email marketing is a great communication tool because it's more effective than traditional marketing, yields quick results, and enables you to send personalized messages with immediacy. But with the majority of all email being spam, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to capture people's attention.
Furthermore, according to a recent eNonprofit Benchmark study, email subscribers are churning at a faster rate than growth. For every 15% of new subscriber growth, 16% of an email list unsubscribes. Email fundraising response rates have also dropped 21% and advocacy rates dropped 8% since last year (find more surprising email marketing stats here).
Even with a good email strategy, does your message clearly and effectively communicate your organization's needs? More importantly, is it meeting the needs of the email recipients that you hope will 1) open and read the message, 2) consider acting on it, and 3) take the action that you request? If you can answer with a resounding "yes" for each e-communication sent, congratulations! For the other 99% of us, read on.
The key to a successful email campaign is to create different types of emails you should be sending to your database, coupled with great copy, calls-to-action, and list segmentation. To give you some inspiration, here are some great email marketing examples from nonprofits using email to support different needs. Many of these emails average a 19% click-through rate (CTR), and some are as high as 55% (wowza). With an industry averageCTR of 0.42%, these organizations show they got the stuff for successful email marketing. Let's take a look.
Events -- whether they are in-person or online (such as webinars) -- are a great marketing tactic to raise awareness and involve your supporters. And email is a great channel to get the word out about those events so that they are well-attended. Here are two examples of nonprofits promoting special events very well via email.
Children's Musical Theater (55% CTR)
The Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA) (13% CTR)
2) Content Offers
Content creation is one of the absolute best ways to grow your database and keep your audience engaged. Nonprofits understand the importance of giving -- so why not give your supporters something of value, such free guides, videos, or resources that will help your audience learn and grow? Kind of like you see with these emails ...
MAPI (12.5% CTR)
Heartwaves (9% CTR)
The Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA) (14% CTR)
I know, I know, life is busy. But sometimes it helps to stop for a moment and reflect on how we can do things better. Using email to invite supporters to participate in a short survey is a great way to learn about their recent experience with your organization. Online tools like SurveyMonkey can help you easily build new surveys to solicit feedback.
The Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA) (34% CTR)
4) The Follow-up
Once someone takes an action on your site, such as making a donation, signing up for an event, or downloading an offer, think about keeping the conversation going with a follow-up email. In many cases these can be automated using a marketing automation system, but in any case, follow-up emails are a great way to provide additional information or include additional calls-to-action.
In addition to the examples you see below, another use case for email follow-up is sending a message to supporters once they make a donation encouraging them to share their action with others -- the news might help a new audience get involved with your nonprofit.
Persecution.org (24.5% CTR)
Dare 2 Share Ministries (47% CTR)
National Fatherhood Initiative (31% CTR)
National Fatherhood Initiative (19% CTR)
5) Thank You Messages
With any nonprofit, there is a lot of gratitude to go around, especially for the wonderful donations, sponsorships, and volunteers that keep the organization running. It’s important for you to set up an automatic thank you email for whenever someone fills out a form on one of your landing pages, participates in an event, or makes a donation. These emails are designed to ensure that your organization can thank and show gratitude to the amazing people that take the time, effort, and money to involve themselves in your cause.
In these emails, simply thank the individual for their form submission and provide a short description of how their efforts will impact the organization. Don’t over complicate the appearance of these emails -- keep it simple. Follow-up emails are also a great opportunity to add additional calls-to-action to keep the conversation going.
Charity Water (18% CTR)
Dare 2 Share Ministries (33% CTR)
With all the types of email communications and tools available to nonprofit marketers, it’s easy for your marketing to become less effective as your efforts become diluted across channels. This brings to light the importance of creating a variety of email types, and segmenting your emails based on targeted lists. A highly productive and effective email marketing campaign consists of segmented communications that touch your constituents, sponsors, and partners, backed up with personalized emails that provide them with the right type of information at the right time.