I Want Steak — Not Spam!!

One of the most dangerous things we can fall victim to is thinking we know more about a topic than we really do. This happened recently with a friend of mine. He knows of my involvement with Pathmaker Marketing, and, like everyone else, he would like a piece of the Internet pie. My first word of advice to him was to consider e-mail marketing, at which he wrinkled his nose, nodded his head back and forth, and looked as though I had just kicked his dog. A little surprised at his response, I asked him what was wrong and he shared with me that he believes all e-mails, and thus e-mail marketing, is little more than spam. He further went on to add that most everyone he knows feels the same way and want nothing to do with e-mail marketing. Then I asked him why he had some pretty interesting comments.

First of all, he explained, for the most part all you get is junk mail. He got quite worked up in regard to this issue, pointing out that with at least “snail mail” the marketer has to invest in the printing and postage of the piece and that helps hold down the quantity you get at least a little bit. With the Internet, he went on, people can send out stuff with virtually no expense to them, so nearly everyone is doing it. I

I waited patiently until he finished – – he is, after all, a friend. When he simmered down to where I figured he could at least grasp what I was about to say, I asked him why he thought so many people were using e-mail marketing. He pondered that for a while and then reluctantly admitted because it must work for them. I agreed, and also pointed out that another reason he might want to consider the program is because he doesn’t have to invest a small fortune like you do with direct mail.

I could see in his eyes that he had now made this a point of debate between him and I, and he felt as though he had lost round one. Liking a challenge myself, I waited to see what he came up with next.

“What about information stealing?” he countered.

What about it, indeed! I asked him if he intended to steal anyone’s information. He replied with a horrified look that I immediately translated to mean “of course not!” I pointed out to him that we have had con men ever since the devil convinced Eve to take a bite of that apple, but that didn’t make every fruit salesman evil. I agreed with him that individuals using the Internet need to use caution and common sense in regard to the information they shared, but that no one should be paranoid to the point that they might miss out on a really good opportunity just because it came to them in an e-mail.

I had to smile when I recognized the look of resignation on his face. He had been convinced, though he originally had wanted to be, that e-mail marketing is still a viable way to get your business involved with the Internet’s potential. He will, of course, have to spend some time to learn the “do’s and don’ts” of e-mail marketing. The best way to do this, of course, is to contact Pathmaker Marketing and learn from their years of experience and wealth of expertise. To learn more about the value of email marketing or email fundraising visit this link today.  To see a Case Study of a successful email fundraising client, go here.  After all, there is just as much “steak” out there as there is “spam.”

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Internet Savvy Fundraising Companies

If you’re a non profit or church who raises funds, then you need to include online fundraising in your marketing tool kit. And when you start doing that, you’ll want to consider the advantages of working with various fundraising companies. Just because you work with someone who has been managing your direct mail for the last several years doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for your email fundraising or search engine marketing efforts. You’ll want to look for Internet savvy fundraising companies for that.

When interviewing fundraising companies, here are some helpful questions you’ll want to ask.

What is your experience raising funds online? You’ll want to make sure they have several years of experience, but also be sure that they deliver good return on investment for their clients. Ask them for specific examples, and look for at least a 4:1 ROI for their current or past clients (not just a promise that they can do that for you).

What is your strategy for raising funds online? While strategies for individual tactics may vary, there is a general philosophy for fundraising that need to understand before choosing from your list of fundraising companies. How do they come up with each eAppeal strategy? How will you be involved? What is their eAppeal blasting schedule and strategy? How will they avoid colliding with direct mail strategies? How they make sure you’ll be able to see results from all online strategies? Make sure their strategies agree with your philosophies.

What is your experience in my industry? People surely can learn your industry, but it helps if they already offer experience specific to your industry. If you’re a Christian organization, it helps a lot for them to understand Christianity and the way Christians communicate.

What is your billing schedule and terms? Be sure you can afford their services and thoroughly understand the services you’ll get.

How do you resolve conflicts and disagreements? You don’t plan it, but disagreements occur. Go into it knowing how you’ll deal with them.

These basic questions may launch you into other discussions, but these will help you springboard into a thorough understanding of how various fundraising companies stack up against one another.

Pathmaker Marketing LLC is ready to help you raise funds online and would love to talk to you about how our strategies and experience fit with your organization. Visit our website or call us at 623-322-3334.

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Choosing the Right Words Crucial to Good Email Fundraising

The professionals at Pathmaker Marketing live to assist our clients with their email fundraising.   We understand the delicate relationship between ministries and their donors, and we’ve learned the importance of selecting just the right words in every part of an email fundraising strategy.  We recommend that your words align not only with the brand identity of your organization, they must also communicate clearly to your constituents that you understand them.  Words and messaging can go a long way to show donors that you and they are on the same page.

In his newest book, Axiom, Bill Hybels’ opening parry focuses on the importance of words.  He describes the angst he experiences as he seeks just the right word, phrase or tagline for a point in a sermon, conversation or campaign.  He goes into great detail to explain that when it comes to words, you have to get it right!

The truth is, leaders rise and fall by the language they use.  Sometimes whole visions live or die on the basis of the words the leader chooses for articulating that vision.
–Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church in Axiom:  Powerful Leadership Proverbs

Good email fundraising will show understanding and sensitivity to the values, priorities and lifestyle of donors–and you demonstrate this by the choice of words you use.  If you fail in this, you let down the very people whose support you are seeking to engender.  Answering the following questions will help you choose well in your messages to donors.

Reflect Your Donors’ Values in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the key values of your constituents?  Do you know which things they hold dearest?  And why they are drawn to your organization?  Is there a values niche that you serve that is unique?  Do your messages communicate these values clearly?  Most Christian ministries work hard to show they are morally clean and untainted.  What other dearly-held values do your constituents have?  Patriotism? Social activism?  When it comes to your email fundraising, don’t waste words on things that are not valued by your donors.

Reflect Your Donors’ Priorities in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the highest priorities of your constituents?  Are they family-oriented?  Prayer warriors?  Ardent for missions?  Whatever their priorities, your words must communicate that you understand the priorities that guide their lives.

Show You Understand Your Donors’ Lifestyles in Your Email Fundraising:  Do your donors tend to have active lifestyles?  Are they Internet savvy?  Tuned in to contemporary Christian music?  Are they pinching every penny, or do they have a little financial breathing room?  As you consider ways to use email for your fundraising efforts, you can reflect the lifestyle choices of your backers as you communicate with them, choosing words wisely.

The extra effort you put into choosing just the right words for every part of your email fundraising strategy will go a long way to show them that you understand them and their concerns.  This connection will strengthen their willingness to give.

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Strategic Non Profit Website Design & Communication Quiz

1. Identify three of our five principles of good non profit website design and communications: 

a. Consider banner advertising
b. Link relevant content to search-centric promotion
c. Search engine-optimize your site
d. Develop your email communication tools
e. Build Interactivity into your website

2. What are some incentive-based offers for your email signup page? (choose all that apply) 

a. Discount coupons
b. Topical e-newsletters
c. Free downloads
d. Cash rewards
e. Special premiums
f. All of the above

3. What is search-centric content? 

a. Website content that is relevant to web searches
b. Website content that conveys your needs and central passions
c. Website content that shows up in search engine results

4. Which ways below will NOT help you build interactivity on your non profit website? 

a. Prayer Walls
b. Wikis
c. Your best building photographs
d. Forums
e. Games
f. News reports and updates
g. All of the above

5. Which of the following will help you develop your email fundraising and communication tools? 

a. An incentive-based email offer page
b. Implementing an electronic welcome series
c. Developing effective transactional email
d. Learning to use surveys
e. Improving landing page conversion
f. A, B, and E
g. All of the above

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Strategic Web Communication Principle #5: Integration

Integrating your online and offline communications is our strategic non profit marketing tip for today.

One important mistake that many ministries make is to consider online communication to be separate from offline communication. But these days, savvy marketers put their web addresses on all printed materials and even in their radio and television ads. Likewise, your website should contain toll-free phone numbers and mailing addresses. Cross promote as much as possible. You should also put your web address in your catalogs, on your brochures, business cards, in your radio or television program. You get the idea. 

Another good strategy is to cross-pollinate your monthly direct mail appeals with an online fund raising effort. Our typical email fundraising approach, when synergized to snail mail, is to start Split Testing 10 days AFTER the snail mail arrives in homes, then go to full blasting 3 days after that. The email will stand on its own results, plus give LIFT to your snail mail this way.  After re-blasting and remarketing for another week, you can have your email eFundraising efforts done in 10-13 days total, and be out about 1 week before the next fundraising snail maill effort arrives.

The combination of the two channels – direct mail and email fundraising — working in tandem with each other to promote the same initiative will raise the water table overall on your results. Combine telemarketing in this mix and you have a powerful one-two-three punch for your fundraising efforts.

This topic — maximizing your nonprofit fundraising efforts by combining traditional channels with online marketing tools — is quite detailed and I plan to expand on it in future blog entries. For now, I’ll wrap up this series by again leaving you with these words:

A strategic online communication plan will use integration to strengthen existing donor relationships while building new ones to enhance your ministry and expand its outreach.

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Develop your Email Fundraising and Online Marketing Tools

The primary goal of your email fundraising is to raise gifts or sell products, not deliver ministry (that’s what your e-newsletter does). E-fundraising is an entire course in itself that fundraising professionals like Pathmaker Marketing teach, but when done effectively, it can become an monthly income-producing channel for your ministry that might even rival your direct mail and telephone fundraising efforts.

But you’re not ready to do e-appeals until you’ve properly introduced your new found friends to your ministry. Once they know who you are and what you stand for, then you can begin implementing fundraising for nonprofits and begin requesting their support for your worthy causes.

In general, the basic components of any email solicitation include your Subject Line, your message in HTML and/or text, and your Landing Page.

The primary goal of your Subject Line is to get your emails opened. The primary goal of your email is to get click-through traffic to your Landing Page. And the primary goal of your Landing Page is to get conversions on your offer (i.e., gifts or sales, leads, list signups, etc). Each component has a specific goal, but they must all work together harmoniously to produce effective results. 

There are different schools of thought on basic email fundraising strategies like: short email to long landing page, or long email to short landing page, but to determine what works best with your constituents, you just need to test, test and continue testing.

In addition, there’s the landing page process of effective internet marketing, which brings to mind the importance of your understanding of landing page conversion protocol. This subject is a big one and we’re only touching its surface today, but to show you how advanced you can become in this arena, here’s a patented formula I use to improve landing page conversion:

Landing Page Conversion = 4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a
M= the user’s motivation; v= clarity of the value proposition; i=incentive to take action; f=friction elements of the process; a=anxiety about entering information. Proper use of this formula from the Marketing Experiments Corp. can significantly improve your landing page conversions.

The formula basically says that the greatest weight in the conversion process is given to the motivation of the donor to support your cause, followed by the strength of your value proposition, followed by your incentive less the friction of your checkout process, less the anxiety that the donor feels about doing business with you online.  Three factors can improve your conversion rates, while two factors can decrease them.

For more assistance with your email fundraising, contact Pathmaker Marketing at this webpage, or call us today at 1-623-322-3334. Or IM with us via Skype or Yahoo at pathmaker.marketing 

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Email Fundraising Case Study: Blasting to Splits and Non-opens

I wanted to present you with a GENERAL analysis of one client’s current email fundraising results to assess the effectiveness of re-marketing splits and re-blasting to non-openers.

I’ll present a fuller analysis later after I analyze every single motive code.

In this case a three-way Split Test was developed (three different creatives) and run out to three 7% random sampling of the master file (no overlapping names).  The strategy was short cause email to long cause landing page (A), long cause email to short cause landing page (B), and short premium offer to short premium landing page – no cause (C). The blasting process then unfolded as shown below:

June 18 Split Test (A,B,C) = 36 gifts for $2897 from June 18-21.
A had 11.6% Opens, 22% Clicks, 6% gift conversions of 14 for $1,150 total
B had 11.2% Opens, 10.5% Clicks, 12.6% gift conversions of 13 for $1,555 total
C had 9.9% Opens, 19% Clicks, 7.7% gift conversions of 12 for $680 total
Based of these numbers we executed the following schedule of blasts:

June 22 Full Blast to B = 114 gifts for $8905 from June 22-23
June 24 Re-blast of B to Non-opens = 68 gifts for $4615 from June 24-28
June 29 Full Blast to A = 86 gifts for $6444
July 1 Re-blast of A to Non-opens = 75 gifts for $5503

Total Campaign (gifts still coming in) = 379 gifts for $28,364

Many of the details and nuances I have excluded from this post in order to display these general results that convey various blasting points re-fundraising for non profits.

Ranked by dollars given
$8905 from “winning” B Full Blast (114 gifts)
$6444 from “losing” A Full Blast (86 gifts)
$5503 from “losing” A Re-blast to Non-opens (75 gifts)
$4615 from “winning” B Re-blast to Non-opens (68 gifts)

Analysis of “Winning” version vs “Losing” version blasting
“Winning” B version of the eAppeal: $13,520 from 182 gifts
“Losing” A version of the eAppeal: $11,947 from 161 gifts

Remember, this is a first blush analysis, but it illustrates the point in general WHY it’s often meritorious to send both split test versions of your email fundraising efforts. If we had NOT sent the “LOSING” version, we would have FORGONE $12,000 in income from 161 givers.

Analysis of First Blast vs Re-blasts to Non-opens
First Blasts = $15,349 from 200 gifts
Re-blasts to Non-opens = $10,118 from 143 gifts

Same disclaimer here, but it illustrates the point WHY it’s often meritorious to send to non-openers. If we had NOT sent to Non-opens we would have FORGONE $10,000 in income from 143 givers.

Crazy idea:
If we HAD NOT SENT the “LOSING” version NOR SENT to Non-opens, we would have RAISED $11,802 from 150 givers and FORGONE $16,562 from 229 givers.

These are real time online fund raising results that have occurred during June 2009, also showing that despite the rotten economy, the right offer at the right time with the right executional effort can yield some very substantial results.

If you’d like some help to implement a plan like this, contact Pathmaker Marketing today at 623-322-3334 and we’ll do our best to help your not for profit organizations.

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Use Your Common Sense in Email Fundraising

I use ExactTarget to provide fundraising services for clients of ours. Exact Target is really are at the apex of the email blasting tool industry.  But recently I had to question the wisdom that the ET representative passed along to my client about email fundraising.

The ExactTarget representative told my client that similar “emails have been sent multiple times to the same subscribers, which is not considered a best practice. If a subscriber did not open an email to begin with, they probably won’t open the same email if they receive it again—most often they will just hit the spam button or unsubscribe.

I looked at the data sheet of metrics the ET rep was using to make her claim: 10 months of eAppeal results from January 2008 to October 2008, including instances where similar emails were resent to non-openers or to openers but not clickers or to clickers but not givers. The ET data showed the complaint rates to have been running at .08% over 10 months and 66 different emails. The unsubscription rates hovered at .15% over the same period. In essence, the combined spam complaint and unsub rate for this client was .23%.

Said differently, 99.77% of all their email recipients DID NOT hit the report spam button or unsubscribe, despite various instances where similar emails were resent to sub-groups like non-openers, or non clickers.

By way of contrast, the income generated from these results indicated the efforts were worthy attempts to generate additional income from the same email.  The dollars generated justified judicious targeting of specific subgroups, especially when your email creative work is all done and in the bag.

Lesson learned: A superior email blasting tool doesn’t always come with superior advice. Use your common sense when evaluating various blast strategies that could improve your email fundraising results. Get different opinions, then evaluate the data to determine what makes sense for your organization.  But don’t assume that the advanced tool always come with advanced advice.

To reach a professional fundraising company like Pathmaker Marketing, visit us online or call us by telephone at 1-623-322-3334.

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Email Fundraising Tip on List Segmentation

Here’s a nifty tip to your ongoing email fundraising list segmentation efforts:

Once each month after you are done emailing, proceed to establish the following basic sub-segmentation lists from your prior month’s efforts:

  1. Givers or Buyers (those who gave or bought something)
  2. Clickers but no Actions (those who made it to your landing pages but never made a donation or bought a product)
  3. Openers but no Clicks (those who opened your email but never clicked to your landing page)

You can then begin to combine the givers from January with February etc to formulate a master file of all those who have responded to email solicitations.  This sub-list will become your prime email fundraising list for your nonprofit fundraising efforts.

Over time your lists will begin to be parsed into better subgroups. You’ll have an ongoing file of all your customers; an ongoing file of those who clicked but never purchased or donated; an ongoing file of those who open email but never click.

Your future ePhilanthropy strategies can then begin to take shape as you understand a little more about the behavior patterns of your various subgroups.

You can pull off these online fund raising steps easily in blasting systems like Exact Target, even iContact, although in some cases you may need to re-import your Givers lists back into your blasting system.

If you need prefer to use our fundraising services to help you generate significant $$ from email fundraising, contact Pathmaker Marketing today online or at 623-322-3334, and we’ll do our best to see if we can assist you further.

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The Power of Email Fundraising to Generate $$

I still find non profit organizations that are apprehensive about email fundraising.
It seems like their concerns sometimes hover around issues like: “Will email cannibalize their snail mail results?” or maybe even more fundamentally, “Will people react negatively to solicitations?” from their non profit through email.

To address this issue I want to share a recent client Case Study from Pathmaker Marketing. Before April 2008, this client had not been doing any email fundraising. They agreed to let Pathmaker start a monthly email fundraising effort on their behalf that was tied to their monthly snail mail fundraising efforts.

After doing an initial Verify My Email campaign, their email list netted out to 20,000 deliverable names.

Here are the results from our last 13 eAppeals for them:

Thirteen-month Summary:
1,816 gifts = $190,887 gross income generated
(Averages: 140 gifts for $14,683)

Month-by-month eAppeal Income Summary:
13. April eAppeal: 118 gifts = $10,305
12. March eAppeal: 91 gifts = $11,813
11. February eAppeal: 69 gifts = $13,184
10. January 09 eAppeal; 88 gifts = $9,521
9. December eAppeal: 122 gifts = $23,833
8. November eAppeal: 161 gifts = $16,950
7. October eAppeal: 106 gifts = $6,853
6. September eAppeal: 231 gifts = $17,828
5. August eAppeal: 199 gifts = $28,550
4. July eAppeal:  112 gifts = $18,500
3. June eAppeal: 139 gifts = $10,450
2. May eAppeal: 138 gifts = $12,528
1. April 08 eAppeal:  242 gifts = $10,572

During this period we saw no dilution in their snail mail results. In fact the opposite could be aid: email was giving LIFT to their snail mail efforts while also standing strong on its own two feet in the metrics analysis.

Said differently for this client, staying on the sidelines prior to April 2008, meant they were effectively foregoing almost $15,000 in additional revenue PER MONTH.

I would say that’s a significant amount of income for any not profit organization to overlook.

If you are looking for a professional fundraiser or non profit consultant for your charity, non profit organization, or church, please give me a call at 623-322-3334 to consider whether Pathmaker Marketing can assist your enterprise in generating significant sources of email fundraising income.

Don’t be shy if your email lists are small to begin with. Pathmaker can help you implement a Traffic Conversion Plan and list growth strategies that will build your email file into a company asset that can deliver significant results for you. We’re confident that we are one of the fundraising companies that can move your non profit marketing to the next level.

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