Broadly speaking there are two strategies with email fundraising – beat the list to death or curate it over time.
The first makes doesn’t dance around the subject. The ask to give is up front and direct. Every following email includes a direct ask, typically with a strong emotional narrative. The “beat the list to death” strategy is typical for political or policy organizations. This strategy is good for small-dollar donation, a large contact list, and high frequency donations.
The latter strategy of curating growth views email as a tool to develop relationships over time before moving forward with an ask. This strategy follows an email cadence like the following – a welcome email, did you know email, exclusive offering email, donation email. The story is being told in each email after incentivizing engagement. This strategy is used when it is expected to have a long lead time before transaction like, SaaS companies, product companies, or high-net worth individual engagement. This strategy is good for high-dollar, a small contact list, and low frequency donations.
Large list and small-dollar
For small dollar donations, the name of the game is volume. A few $100 donations has a small impact but 1,000 $100 donations has a large impact. Therefore, you have to develop a strategy that can address a larger audience. It is much more difficult to individualize messaging and creative due to the low return. Consider this strategy broadcasting out a call-to-action and seeing what sticks.
Small list and high-dollar
Formulate your email strategy around the following basic email cadence: defining a goal, show a success story, or optimistic future. At a small scale, it is easier to do high touch outreach and engagement. Raising money from a high-dollar donor is a lot like an investor. Using email to build a relationship with high-dollar donors by providing updates and reports on progress on the projects they gave too and how their money is contributing to the success of the mission.
Guidelines for Both Groups
- Stuff over ideas – people like buying stuff over giving to an intangible idea. Offering a sweepstakes or buying a product can be good way to foster a transaction
- Segmentation is Key – All of your lists should be divided into segments based upon key behavior indicators. We live in a world of personalization at scale. Segmenting increases your chances of conversion.
- Delivery Times and Dates – Certain times and days have greater open rates than others. Track which days do best and adapt your cadence. Usually, Mondays and Tuesdays are the best days for email open rates.
- Copywriting isn’t a hobby – Writing great copy is actually quite hard. Don’t skimp on investment. Reading is the main means of communication on the Web. Word choice can be the difference between authenticity and shallowness.
- Keep it simple –Think how quickly you read emails. Don’t burden the recipient with too many CTAs and overly wordy copy. Most emails are opened on mobile so longer emails perform worse.
- Mobile-minded – Most emails are opened on mobile devices. Be considerate of downloading issues with creative, length of the email, and screen sizes.
- Email Clients Galore – There is a ton (I mean a ton) of email clients. All of them handle emails very differently. Use an email design tool that automatically accommodates for the specifics of email clients.
- Send them to a good place – Be aware that your email strategy is only as good as where they end up. The landing page where you send traffic from an email should be optimized and AB tested. Make transactions as easy as possible.
- Cadence – Develop a pattern and expectation for your subscribers. Open rates will increase if subscribers can follow a pattern.
- Considerate of what your audience wants – Think as your audience, not as yourself. Most people in technology view email as a nuance. Those who work in technology occupy 1% of the population. There is a wide range of perspectives on email cadence and design. Ask your audience and get feedback.