When Email Stops Working: Get out of the inbox and on to social

According to the most recent M+R Benchmark report, a nonprofit has to send an average of 2,000 fundraising emails before getting a donation. The report also points to increased email volume: nonprofits sent 10% more emails in 2016 than the previous year.

These metrics are useful in designing your email program and projecting revenue based on the size of your list as well as the portion of your file that’s engaged.

But 2,000 emails to get 1 donation? Why aren’t the other 1,999 people responding?

Part of the reason is that they’ve stopped paying attention to your emails. DonorVoice’s research paper, Donor Churn, nails it on why donors stop paying attention:

“Donors decide to stay or go not based on a single event, but instead over time, given their cumulative experiences (or lack of them) with the organization.”

If you change their experience with you, you can keep their interest, re-build trust and give them a reason to support.

Source: Pew Research Center

So how do you tap into social media to engage email donors and activists who have stopped responding to your existing program?

The answer is easy – you can target your email list through social and programmatic ads. Doing it right and in a way that changes their experience of you requires more than just blasting ads. It requires creating a digital dialogue that’s relevant to the supporter based on their interests. For most organizations, doing this kind of highly personal and dynamic communication is hard to impossible with their current technology and resources.

However, innovative new technology that uses machine learning and personalization can deliver a stream of messages and calls-to-action tailored to a supporter’s interest. At Causemo, we do this through journey-based marketing that dynamically adapts emails, ads, and landing pages based on what content your donor or activist shows interest in -- and tailors the calls-to-action automatically to these interests.  

Here are the four things that you can do with journey marketing to make your marketing and fundraising highly personal and increase your results:

1.  Hyper-Segment. Use "Big Data" to create distinct segments based on what you know about your lapsed donors and activists. By analyzing the engagement history of your supporters, you can derive what topic(s) a person is most interested in. This goes well beyond typical RFM behavioral targeting, which has proven to be ineffective. Interest-based marketing digs deep into what content supporters have clicked on, have acted upon and given to. Each supporter has a unique interest fingerprint left behind in their interaction data. Find that fingerprint and use it in your digital dialogue.

2.  Dynamic Content Targeting. Once you obtain a supporter's interest-based fingerprint, you can use cross-channel marketing to get their attention. This is where social and email work beautifully together. With the right technology, you can coordinate sending supporter specific, thematic content through your social channels that fits their interests along with paid ads, boosted posts and email. Surround them with the message: "We're working on what you care about, come get involved."  

3.  Real-time Listening. As supporters re-engage with you, listen to what they tell you about themselves through their clicking habits and continually refine your message to those response indicators. This requires a robust system for capturing that information and processing it in real-time to send the next appropriate message or action. Most nonprofit digital technology can't do this. Luckily, systems like Causemo that use advanced machine learning to determine appropriate next messaging can. 

4.  Post-Action Relationship Building. The donor journey doesn't end at the contribution. Your donors are consumers too. They know what it's like to have an online retailer "delight and surprise" them. They expect you to do the same, or they'll leave you for a cause that does. The donor journeys should include post-action, personalized cultivation messages and content that show you’re using their money effectively. Imagine the impact on your donor when you send them a link to a video that is specific to their donation. Journey marketing enables this in ways traditional mass marketing cannot. 

By targeting your non-responders and donors with coordinated email, social and ad messages, you can increase the likelihood that they will re-engage with you. Delivering highly tailored, interest-specific messages creates a different digital relationship with a donor than your current blast marketing program allows. Using journeys, you can control the delivery of content that’s both valuable and meaningful to a lapsed email subscriber or donor, thereby increasing their engagement with your organization.  

Causemo has worked with both large and small organizations to re-engage lapsed subscribers and donors. We're seeing increases of 32% to 52% in reactivation through custom content and journeys that provide real value to the supporter. To continue the conversation, we’d love to talk to you about the ways you’ve tried to engage your email non-responders and how we can help you get value out of them once again.