Best Advice I can give You for E-mail Fundraising

emal fundraisingIt probably is pretty safe to assume that E-Mail Fundraising is not a flash in the pan, but, rather, will be a major weapon in the arsenal of every email marketing firm in the nation for ad infinitum.  Scattered across the world wide web is tidbits of information and suggestions posted by various e-mail marketing experts meant to help give a better understanding of email marketing.  While each and everyone may be valuable, it could be painstakingly difficult to fetter them out and paint a picture with a broad enough scope to actually let you know how to attain success in this realm.  That’s why, as successful email marketing professional, I thought it would be prudent to take time to share a plethora of suggestions that have helped Pathmaker Marketing LLC in their quest of becoming a successful professional e-mail marketing firm in the realm of e-fundraising.  So, below is a comprehensive “what to do” guide for enjoying E-mail Fundraising success.

1.  TEST – TEST – TEST - Constantly.  In email fundraising there are some variables that you can control and some that you can’t.  What you can control is when you send and how you design your emails and how you design your Landing Pages.  What you can’t control is what’s happening in the news and how people feel about the economy.  As a result, you want to make sure that you are using your very best efforts in the areas you do control in your quest for funds.

One thing you will want to do is run “split tests” – double, triple, or quadruple splits.  You should run these on your creatives, as different versions can have different texts and/or graphics.  You test to see what is working this month or week, and by testing you mitigate against ineffective efforts.  Multiple versions of your email will enhance your chance for success, and serves as a bit of insurance.

WHEN YOU SPLIT TEST BE SURE YOU CAN TRACK RESULTS SEPERATELY. You must be able to tell how much money each email raised separately.

2.  BUILD YOUR INTERNAL FILES - Understandably, your donor file will always give you the most return on any given e-mail.  Next would be your internal prospecting file and finally any external prospecting file.  As a point of clarification, the internal prospecting file are those people who have shown an interest in your organization but have not donated and, as one would expect, are more apt to give than any external list.  In other words, the “priority order” is to solicit those who have given before, those who have shown an interest in you, and lastly strangers.

3.  GET A DECENT ESP - To conduct an E-mail Fundraising campaign you must have an Email Service Provider (ESP).  Basically, there are three types – Entry Level, Intermediate, and Advanced.  There are a variety of things that will differentiate ESPs.  One is the size of your list.  Another consideration is the “billing” process.  Typically, for Intermediate and Advanced ESPs billing is “volume based,” while for the Entry Level ESPs it is “file size” based.  Functionality is another determining factor:  The more advanced the greater the number of functions – especially in the realms of integration and reports.  As can be expected, the more advanced your ESP the more expensive it will be.

An example of an entry level ESP is iContact, and will usually be used when your mailing list is 10,000 or less. Bronto would be a middle level ESP, and is for the organization whose list is 10,000 – 100,000.  An advanced ESP is for lists of 100,000+, and a good example of this would be Exec Target.

4. NO CSS WHEN CODING E-MAIL IN HTML - What is often overlooked is the fact that that if you use CSS it will bestripped by many email clients.  For example, G-mail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and MacMail all tend to strip out CSS.  If your email is driven by your custom style sheet and it gets deleted by the email client you will have a problem.  Your email might show up looking fine, or it might look like garbage.  As a result, you would be better off using “old school” HTML 101 table formats.

5.  DESIGN AND CODE TO 600 PIXELS WIDE - At that width your e-mail will render okay in a number of environments, such as PC, iPad and mobile phones.  If you code to wider you will force people to sideward scroll, which some may consider too much work!

6. PUT MORE EFFORT INTO YOUR LANDING PAGES THAN YOUR E-MAIL ‘CAUSE YOU CAN’T’ TRANSACT ANY BUSINESS IN AN E-MAIL - Remember, no matter how good your email is you can’t take a credit card with it!  If your landing page is “broken,” the whole process is broken.  The e-mail is what “hooks” people, but the landing page is what will “seal the deal.”  Like a good salesman, your landing page is your “closer.”

7.  UTILIZE E-MAIL FUNDRAISING STRATEGIES - Any successful endeavor is the result of developing and implementing specific strategies, and e-mail fundraising is no exception.  Below is a list of strategies that you should plan on employing:

  • E-mails tied to current events
  • Monthly “themed” Email Campaigns
  • Direct Mail/E-mail Combo
  • Media/E-mail Combo
  • “Stand Alone” E-mail Fundraising Campaign

 8.  E-MAIL CAN WORK WITH DIRECT MAIL - Send your Direct Mail offer first.  Then, send an email with the sameoffer seven to ten days later.  This over-all combination will give you lift, as the email will remind people of the mailer they received.

9.  ADD “READ MORE” LINKS INTO YOUR COPY - Writing an e-mail fundraiser piece is a little different than writing a direct mailer piece.  In the former you might stop a thought in mid-paragraph and put in a “read more,” having your email serve as somewhat of a “teaser.”

10.  STUDY THIS HEURISTIC TO LEARN A SIGNIFICANT LESSON FROM E-MAIL EXPERT FLINT McGOUGHLIN

eMe = rv(o+i ) – (f+a)

The effectiveness of your Message = relevance of your offer (offer + incentive) less (friction + anxiety)

In essence, this is saying that the advantages of your offer and incentive needs to outweigh the recipient’s reluctance to reply positively to your offer, plus the anxiety he might feel in doing so.   “Friction” deals with the ease of your check out procedure.  Asking for as little information as is necessary, and keeping the checkout process as short as possible can minimize it.  Said simply, “Anxiety” is the general reluctance someone might have in doing business on the Internet.

11.  USE THIS FINAL CHECKLIST BEFORE YOU HIT “SEND”

Ask Did my test e-mail:

  • Allow me to go through checkout
  • Have a subject line with no issues
  • Have working links
  • Display Properly
  • Have contact’s name, address and telephone number

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