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Beyond the Blast: The Nuts & Bolts of Email Marketing



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The return on investment for email marketing is greater than every other marketing channel.
And, because it is a measurable avenue, you can know how your subscribers are interacting with your emails.

And they ARE interacting.

Learn how to use email to effectively reach your targets, motivate them to act and measure your results.

For a case study on how Creating Results helped a client gain significant results in their email program, visit

Authors Erin Read, Beth Rand. Originally presented to Planned Giving Group of New England, November 2012.

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Beyond the Blast: The Nuts & Bolts of Email Marketing

  1. 1. About Us Beth Rand Client Services Director Erin Read Ruddick Client Services Director
  2. 2. Agenda • General Email Statistics • Top Tips for Email Marketing o Knowing Yourself o Knowing Your Target o Strategy o Using Email Service Providers o Measuring Success o What You Should Be Doing
  3. 3. General Email Statistics
  4. 4. Email By the Numbers • 17% completion rate – email-driven donation forms • Delivers $39.40 for every dollar spent • Average open rate of 22% - 26% • Average Click through rate of 3% - 5%
  5. 5. Email By the Numbers
  6. 6. Benefits Platform for messaging to prospective donors based on their level of interaction Provides a channel for updates and news on events and programs taking place to create increased participation Allows members to share insider information with their personal networks with very little effort or time
  7. 7. Top Tips for Email Marketing
  8. 8. Know Thyself
  9. 9. • Most action-oriented online actions? • How do you currently communicate with prospects? • How can you encourage email engagement?
  10. 10. • What do you have to offer? • How can you tie to business results?
  11. 11. Know Thy Audience
  12. 12. • Key Motivators • How they prefer to engage with you • Privacy Issues • Donation status
  13. 13. • Messaging specific to donation status – known or unknown
  14. 14. Have a Plan (and stick to it)
  15. 15. Messaging Categories
  16. 16. Messaging Frequency Talking regularly? Too much? Over-messaging and silence can be equally as damaging and alienating for your prospects and can lead to high unsubscribe rates, dissatisfaction or spam complaints.
  17. 17. Question How many currently have a publishing schedule?
  18. 18. Question What types of messages or categories are included within?
  19. 19. Messaging Calendar Development
  20. 20. The ABCs of ESPs
  21. 21. Question How many of you use an email service provider to send your messages?
  22. 22. Question How many send from outlook or another desktop email program?
  23. 23. Benefits Opt-In Required  Increased DELIVERABILITY o Inbox Experts o Good list hygiene CAN-SPAM Compliant o Unsubscribe link & removal of unsubscribes within 10 days
  24. 24. How to Get Started
  25. 25. Start-Up Questions Budget? In-house support? Existing email database? Goals-short and long term?
  26. 26. Integrations Does your selected ESP integrate with: Website CRM Blog
  27. 27. Measuring Success
  28. 28. Understanding Metrics OPEN: Recipients who open email *The higher the open rate, the better the chance to cause action CLICK-THROUGH: Number of clicks a message receives *The higher the click-through rate, the greater the level of interest and message follow up opportunity
  29. 29. Taming the Metrics Beast
  30. 30. Setting Goals List Messaging Building Marketing Metrics Mix
  31. 31. Increasing Email Performance • Website metrics • Open rates by hour • Email metrics • Hot List
  32. 32. What You SHOULD Be Doing
  33. 33. Find Out More About Your Donors • Surveys • Segment based on Message Interaction • Capture preferences
  34. 34. Segmentation = Relevancy
  35. 35. Question Do you currently conduct email testing?
  36. 36. A/B Split Testing • Day of Week • Time of Day • Subject Lines • From Name • Image Placement
  37. 37. Social Integration • Cross-Promote • Highlight Benefits • Include Links • Launch New Channels
  38. 38. Summary A successful email program: • Appeals to subscribers interests • Is based on a plan • Integrates with online avenues and CRM • Deploys based on insights gained via metrics • Is constantly innovating and testing
  39. 39. Thank You Blog:


  • ERIN: I interrupt this meeting for an important announcement.The first holiday emails for this year deployed in early September. It’s true. Your donor targets are going to receive about 3 holiday themed emails every week from now until the end of the yearWhy should you care the holidays?The Association of Fundraising Professionals says that nearly half of all charities receive 30% - 60% of their charitable gifts in the months of October, November, and DecemberWhy should you care about email? Because emails work. They motivate people to buy, to act, to give.It is never too early to get ready for the holiday season which from an email perspective. It’s never too late, either.Today is the start of a perfect opportunity to reevaluate your existing email program or launch a new one. Today we will offer some ideas to help you stand out in the inbox this holiday and throughout the year.
  • ERIN: Thank you for having us. Today we’ll focus on top tips for setting up and maintaining a successful email program. But first- a little bit about ourselves.Our agency specializes in working with for-profit and non-for-profit organizations that target 50+ consumers and mature donorsWe help clients better understand older adults and the tools that move them to action so you can get better resultsBeth is our email queen – She’s worked with everyone from small non-profit retirement communities to Dunkin Donuts. You know how America runs on Dunkin? Creating Results’ email success runs on Beth.I had the immense pleasure of talking to PGGNE about baby boomers and beyond last year. Thrilled to be back. I also spearhead integrated online marketing strategies for a variety of clients.
  • ERIN: Here is what we’ll be speaking about todayWhen you leave here, you’ll be able to use email and effectively to reach your targets, motivate them to act and measure your results. We’re about to give you a lot of info fast, but don’t worry – a deck with all the slides will be shared by PGGNE after today’s meeting
  • ERIN:First, some general stats on email
  • ERINAccording to a eNonprofit Benchmarks study, 2012 has seen a median 17% completion rate of donation forms driven by emailThe return on investment for email marketing is greater than every other marketing channelBecause email is a measurable avenue,we know how people are interacting with your emails- not something that can be said for offline avenues.And they ARE interacting. And the numbers ARE climbing. CLICK
  • ERIN:as you can see in this eMarketer graph comparing rates from 2010 and 2012
  • ERINThree main benefits to email First, CLICKemail is a channel to send segmented messaging to prospects based on their level of interaction to allow greater success in securing giving. What do we mean by level of interaction? Consider a first time visitor versus person ready to donate – each needs a different type of message CLICKTwo other benefits – a convenient channel for you to push information out to your audiences and CLICK for them to push it to their friends This helps extend your marketing reach
  • ERINCreating Results conducted a survey of boomer and seniors called Social Silver Surfers in 2010 to capture insights and preferences regarding use of the web in general and social media sites in particular. Various national studies and metrics have shown# 1 activity is emailAt every age, but especially 50+, Email is a critical platform/channel for nurturing your prospective donorsConvio found email was the 2nd most effective channel for reaching donors of any ageAnd with new services that let you target and personalize your email, you can improve performance significantly
  • ERINWhile everyone buzzes about Facebook Every day more older adults use email or watch TV than go on social networks. So if this is where your donors are- let’s look at how you can most effectively leverage…PASS TO BETH
  • BETHFirst- you need to have a clear understanding of your organization and mission…You need to be able to answer these questions:
  • BETHFirst: What are the most action-oriented things you can encourage online? They’ll take that action on the specific message you sent or by following a link to a channel where you can engage with them long-term . One example would be completion of online giving form. QUESTION- What are others that you could consider?CLICKSecond: How do you currently communicate? We recommend an integrated on and offline approachCLICKThird: How can you encourage email engagement? You want them to engage with the email itself through clicks. What will make them want to click on your email?
  • BETHOne example of how you can encourage engagement is through exclusive content – insider stuff they get firstHere we developed a message to launch a series of YouTube videos for a community. The call to action was to click on the image to see a video. Generated a 28% click through rate.
  • BETHWhat do you have to offer that they want? Research shows email subscribers want discounts, deals, To support an organization they already know about,And information delivered in a convenient fashion.CLICKFinally: How can you tie email to business results? I call it “Romancing the Stone” This doesn’t just mean dollar goals but helping prospective donors learn more about you and your specific goals. Showing appreciation for those who have bequeathedGeneral thank yous on holidays
  • BETHYou also need to know who you’re engaging…
  • BETHWhat are key motivators to giving money to one group over another? Is it the desire to leave a legacy? Perhaps family motivations? The more insights you can gain the more relevant your messaging will beCLICKHow are they currently engaging with you? If not via email would they be willing? Raise your hand if you have sent a postcard to your database asking them to sign up for emails. Raise your hand if you have a place on your website that lets people sign up for email. Raise your hand if you use social media to encourage people to sign up for email. If you feel unsure that people would want to get email, we suggest you do a quick survey using whatever your current favorite channel is – mail, phone.CLICKPrivacy is huge for boomers and seniors when it comes to online communications. We found through our Social Silver Surfers that privacy (or lack thereof) is a huge concern- especially when it comes to sharing personal information online. How can you calm these fears?And …
  • BETHWe know this is a tough topic. Stelter data presented at the National conference in New Orleans showed that only 40% of planned givers inform charities of their gifts.BUT if you do know the donation status of your list, how do you reflect that in your messaging- is what you say to a donor different than for someone who hasn’t indicated giving as of yet?
  • BETHNow that you know what you can offer and what your targets want you need a plan that aligns the twoYour plan is your strategy and needs to be firmly established if you want to ensure success.
  • BETHThe first tier of your plan is to identify messaging categories- In email- relevancy rules all. You have to send messages that people want to receive. So- put the power in your subscribers hands.Include a form that highlights areas of interest your prospective donors may have as they relate to your organizationCLICKThis is an example of what a form can look like don’t worry if you don’t have as many categoriesA typical planned giving form would allow people to select from updates, general news, event invitations, annual reports, and so on
  • BETHFrequency is almost as important as relevancy and can be a difficult tight rope to walkMore than half of marketers noted an increase in engagement when sending emails to their lists at specific times. So what does that mean for you---knowing that I should see a monthly newsletter the first Monday of the month will help ensure that I open it.On the other side of the coin…Make sure you are not over messaging. This can be the kiss of death for a program. A recommended frequency is 1-2 messages per month for each person within your database. Using your messaging categories to send segmented emails will help keep list fatigue at bay. We want your subscribers interested not overwhelmed.
  • BETHCLICKOr should I rephrase, how many of you even have a sense for what a publishing schedule is?
  • BETHClick
  • BETHThis is a sample messaging calendar It details what messages go to which parts of my database at what time of the yearA messaging calendar helps keep me honest- I make sure I have a mix of messages and a regular frequency. Whether detailed list this email or more simplistic- having something on paper will help you in your message creation.
  • BETHYou’ll hear me reference ESPs or Email Service Providers as the preferred channel for sending your email messages.
  • BETHThere are many benefits to working with an email service provider. The beauty of an ESP is that they do much of this heavy lifting for youCLICKFirst and foremost- they require each subscriber to opt-in. This means that people who receive your emails must first raise their hand and willingly and knowingly sign up. For marketers this is a good thing- means that there is an established awareness and interest and these people are more inclined to open and act upon your messaging. CLICKESPs have deliverability experts working around the clock with internet service providers such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. They are typically whitelisted meaning these providers acknowledge that they aren’t spam and are sending opt-in only messaging. CLICK Strong deliverability means you have good list hygiene (or list health) and helps ensure your message hits the inbox.CLICKIn a nutshell- SPAM is an unsolicited email sent to a list and can hurt your emailing reputation (and possibly block you from sending).CLICKIn 2004 the government passed the CAN-SPAM law to closely govern email marketing. Your handout includes details regarding CAN-SPAM laws. I encourage you to take this back to your office and review with your entire team. The rules are always changing and you want to be up to date.
  • There are many ESPs available to choose from that can serve the simplest to most complex email needs (and many integrate with CRM platforms)And we know there are specialty vendors who offer email to planned giving professionals, including Harris and Crescendo
  • If you aren’t currently using an ESP for your email program (or are looking to switch from your current), here is what you need to ask yourself. Our short start up questionairreFirst- what is your budget? Solutions range from free ones that are great for a start-up program to programs costing several thousand a month.Second- do you have in house tech support? Some ESPs require more web programming knowledge than others. Knowing your resources will help you determine the best directionsThird- Do you have an existing database and if so when was the last time you reached out to them? How many of those messages bounced? Time to clean up your list!Finally- don’t just think about your short term goal of sending an email. That’s the easy part. Think about where you want to be with your program in 2 years. More complex goals mean you need a more robust ESP
  • The more systems you can get talking to each other the more insights you can gain and the more RELEVANT your messaging will be
  • The two key metrics we look at to determine if an email was successful is open rate and click through rate.The open rate is the number of people who received and opened a messageClick through is the number of people who opened and followed a linkSounds simple, right? Just two things to measure …Well, not really
  • There are more opportunities for you to measure progress and successAnd there are many ways to look at the data you collectHere’s how to tame the metrics beast
  • By establishing annual goals for your program in 4 key areas you can help drive performance and get a better picture through a variety of metrics on your performance. Creating Results recently worked with Tufts University Gift Planning on this very tactic. It’s important to measure results - how else will you know how to adjust to maximize performance? For Tuft’s email program we focused on the areas of messaging (specifically segmentation) and metrics.List building: Annually an established list can lose up to 30% of subscribers through simple attrition. You always have to find new subscribersMessaging: remember all of those tips- segmenting, frequency, using a calendar? This core goal will help you keep on track with thoseMarketing Mix: Is your email integrated into your overall marketing strategy? Do you have social media channels such as facebook or twitter? Cross promote email from your website and print marketing, too.As for Metrics
  • Open rate is the easy one to achieve. Focus more on the click-through. Including clear calls to action driving to your website or a landing page. Prospects who go to your website to learn more are easier to move to your final desired action, a planned gift.Your work doesn’t stop after you hit send. If you truly want a successful program we recommend looking at these 4 core areas post deploymentWebsite metrics: What pages receive the most traffic to your site from the email and how long are you able to captivate visitors. CLICKSend your email at the time of day when your site sees a lot of traffic – those are the times that your ideal donors are most active online. Monitor the open rates for a message- If people are waiting to open your email, adjust the subject line and headline to create urgency. CLICKDive deeper in your email reporting---don’t just look at open rates, examine who is opening the majority of your emails and target them with a harder sell. Target those who aren’t opening anything with a reengagement “we miss you” message. Figure out which links get the most click through and craft an email specifically around that topic to leverage the interest CLICKThe hotlist- is people who opened the message first. These are your strongest leads. With most ESPs you can download a hotlist and reach out with further information. Keep in mind- you want to get close but not creepy CLICK
  • You have their attention- why not ask them to share information about themselves. Then use it for messages that are more interesting to them and they’ll want to open.
  • Marketing segmentation is about dividing your list into segments of subscribers that have similar needs and behaviors. This way, you can optimize messaging to meet the specific requirements of the segment better.Use those member preferences. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with marketing messages only the most relevant make it to the top of the pile---the more segmented your messages can be the better.It does payoff Doesn’t mean every message is segmented- recommend 1 segmented message per month or the use of dynamic messaging to change primary stories as needed based on interest
  • This is a message from Boston University. The subject line was Organize your Assets and the content was relevant for someone who had not indicated a bequest as of yet. Perfect for a segmented message and likely to motivate me if I fall into that category.
  • does a great job sending segmented emails. This is an example of one that is just for outdoor enthusiasts. Now imagine if I received this and disliked the outdoors- not as relevant to me and I won’t be as inclined to act. But they reacted to one of my expressed interests and not only did I try one of the driving routes they mentioned in this email, but I look specifically for this newsletter each month and almost always open and follow links. A win if you ask me.How can you convert this to your donor database? The more you can find out from them the better
  • ERINFor those who have email programs---do you conduct tests?
  • ERINBanana splits aren’t just delicious…they signify an important part of your email marketing strategy- ongoing A/B Split testingA successful email program is one that not only evaluates the metrics but acts on them through testing. With most ESPs you can test everything from day of week to where and how you use images. All of these can provide insights into what moves the needle.
  • ERINEmail and Social Media compliment each other very nicely- so why not use them to cross promote. Include callouts and links to social media platforms within your email and Then remind your social followers that they can sign up for email. The challenge is to make sure you are highlighting distinct and unique benefits for each.
  • BETHWe promised at the start that you’d be able to use email and effectively to reach your targets, motivate them to act and measure your results. If you’re doing everything on this slide, you’ll have the nuts & bolts in place to run a very effective email machine.
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