We recently caught up with Elizabeth Carter, Charity Digital Mail manager at Charity Digital, to discuss the use of email marketing as an effective communications and fundraising tool.
What do you think makes email marketing such an effective communication tool for charities?
Email is an effective communication tool first of all because it is cost effective. It’s great for speedy campaigns and instant, triggered responses which increase engagement and provide an excellent channel to keep your audience informed and updated. It gives you the ideal opportunity to automatically build a relation with your supporters right from the start.
Email marketing allows you to grow your database by encouraging sign ups on different platforms including social media and it’s an effective way of driving supporters to your website. With email marketing you can tailor and target your content and nurture your subscribers by using personalisation, dynamic content and segmentation. By using the advanced reporting and tracking you can analyse behaviours and trends. Email marketing reaches out to a wider audience like social media but also creates an individual space in which your audience can personally identify themselves with your charity mission and be encouraged to keep on supporting.
How can email marketing aid charities’ fundraising efforts?
Email helps to build and support an integrated marketing strategy. With email marketing you don’t have a narrow approach as it’s great at working alongside your other marketing channels – for example the inclusion of social media sharing links within emails is a must and awareness of charities’ missions is no longer limited to reading an email, but is instead linked to exciting YouTube clips and more. In this way, emails have become more like launch pads for charity content.
By using welcome and triggered emails, email marketing introduces other opportunities for people to find out more about your charity on the website and how they can support your cause. Email marketing enables the following up of unfinished online donations and also encourages supporters to keep on giving by offering regular personalised updates on how their donations are helping and how they are making a difference.
What are your top tips for charities to boost email open rates?
Most people quickly scan the subject line of the email before deciding which your message is worth their time and attention so it’s essential to have appealing subject titles that will encourage your email subscribers to open them. There are tips that charities can follow to do this, for example, use a snippet of the email content in the subject title, remove spam words and special symbols and use lowercase and personalisation.
Maintaining regular contact will also help your subscribers to expect your emails and open them up to keep informed. Cleaning up your data list is also beneficial for increasing open rates. Every now and then charities should analyse the supporters who have had emails delivered but not opening them up and send out special campaigns to encourage re-engagement.
Do you think it’s important for charities to optimise emails for mobile?
In 2012, it was reported that over 40% of marketing emails were opened on a mobile device. In 2014, that figure had already increased to 67% and the trend looks set to continue. To survive this change, charities should focus even more on ensuring that all of your emails, microsites and websites render well across all browsers and especially on mobile devices. A large proportion of email recipients first read their emails on the move, usually using a smartphone with the intention of reading the email in more detail later on their laptop, desktop or iPad.
How often should charities be emailing their supporters?
Every charity is different in their mission and their need to communicate with their supporters. However, charities in general should be taking a more tactical and targeted approach to email marketing, rather than mass mailing. We live in a culture in which charities supporters and donors are bombarded with high levels of noise in their lives so lashing out emails for the sake of it has to be avoided. Instead, getting the frequency and timing of your emails is essential.
Regular contact is needed (at least on a monthly/bi-monthly basis) so your email recipients do not stop engaging with you, however, be careful with the overkill of emails, sending too many and too often might make some email recipients unsubscribe from mailing lists or worse still, hit the spam button.
Charity Digital is running a special promotion in April for Charity Digital Mail whereby charities signing up for an annual Enterprise account don’t have to pay the sign-up fee. Click here to find out more.