Creating a Connection
In Part I, we talked about growing your list by starting with a smart landing page that entices visitors to subscribe. In Part II, we’re going to cover what you should do with those subscribers once you have them.
But first, pop quiz time! Are you ready? Only you can provide the best answer to the question as it applies to your nonprofit’s organization. Here’s the question:
What do you think motivates people to donate money to your organization?
A. The desire to add a tax deduction to the calendar year
B. Positive advertisement for their business
C. A thought-out strategy for distributing funds allocated for charitable donation
D. The desire to be part of something meaningful by contributing monetarily
Maybe in your experience, your donors’ motivations seem to be a little bit of A, B, or C. Maybe most of your donors are businesses and others looking for good publicity, a tax deduction, or an organization to be the recipient of their semi-regular giving.
No matter what motivates a person to choose to donate, that person connected on some level with your organization. Otherwise, he or she would have moved on to the next organization.
Giving Donors a Reason to Choose You
Taking an approach to marketing—and to your presence in the world—that promotes an emotional connection with your audience is everything.
“…you’ve got to give your audience someone to care about, to connect with, to root for. In making that emotional connection, you’re making it easier for them to care about helping with and committing to your cause.”
That’s what we said in our article about nonprofit storytelling. And we think we’re right.
So now you probably can guess what should be in a successful email marketing campaign.
Let’s break your marketing email content down from big-picture view to tiny little steps. In general, what’s the purpose of an email? It serves to convey information, right?
Step 1—Include important information in your marketing emails.
For those new subscribers, make sure they receive information on what to expect from being on your list in the first email they receive.
Because you want the email sequence to be timeless and automated so it requires little or no maintenance from you and your team, you won’t include announcements of upcoming events and fundraisers in your initial message. But don’t forget to let your subscribers know this kind of important information and how to find more details about them.
Step 2—Always remember to tell a story.
We’re not talking about a bedtime story here. Instead, the story you need to weave is a simple one that clearly outlines the impact of every donation. Draw a map for your subscribers that shows them the connection between their donation, your organization, and the real-life impact the organization makes on the world.
That map needs to lead your subscribers to a look inside the lives of those who your organization serves.
Step 3—Make your story compelling.
Does your organization impact a specific population? Let’s say your organization works to educate pediatric healthcare professionals to prescribe books to help with their pediatric patients’ development. And in addition, your organization provides books to partnering practitioners so families who can’t afford books can still read to their little ones (if you don’t know the organization Reach Out and Read, check them out because this is exactly what they do).
If this is what your organization does, then the most compelling way to tell your story is through the voice of a child who has been impacted. Can you reach out to those who have been positively impacted by your organization and ask them to tell their story? If so, with the family’s permission, do it.
Step 4—Give a clear call to action.
Your first interaction isn’t the time to make a big ask. Hang onto the direct ask for a monetary donation for a few emails. First, you have to connect with your subscribers and build that emotional component. Those who choose to subscribe to your list are looking to connect with you in some way. So give the people what they want!
Part of building a relationship is opening up the lines of communication so it’s a two-way conversation. And you want that kind of relationship with your subscribers because those who feel connected to your organization will do more to further your cause than anyone else.
So your call to action should be an invitation to connect further. Ask your subscribers to hit reply and send you an email back, or invite them to join the conversation on social media. Be specific in your ask, and make it easy for subscribers to follow through.
Step 5—Space your email frequency.
Have you ever subscribed to someone’s email list only to be bombarded with email after email in the first week? Don’t be the organization that clogs up its subscribers inbox. Space out your emails after the initial onboarding sequence. Give them time to wonder what your nonprofit is up to since they haven’t heard from you in a couple of weeks.
Sending one really great email a month is ideal. By sending one per month, you’ll be giving yourself time to compose a better email with the perfect balance between news, storytelling, and a clear call to connect. Imagine if you had to put that much thought and effort into an email every week. It wouldn’t happen, right?
Step 6—Vary your emotional tone.
The other bonus to spacing out these emails is that it’s easier to avoid ending up sounding monotonous. What does that mean in this context? Consider this:
You’ve compiled 10 emotionally packed, compelling emails. Each one tugs at the same heartstring, showing the impact your organization has on its target population. You’re now a master at storytelling for your nonprofit.
You send these 10 emails to your subscribers in the span of 30 (or even 60) days. The first email seems to get a good response. The second one doesn’t do so bad either. But by the fifth email, you start to see your open rate decline. Maybe people even begin to unsubscribe. Not only have they not responded to the emotion behind the email, they’re not even listening anymore. What happened?
You became too monotonous.
Your 10 emails strike the exact same tone, over and over. It’s like purposely re-watching, marathon style, the same episode of This Is Us that made you blubber like you’ve never blubbered before. By your third or fourth re-watch, you’re probably not even shedding a tear anymore.
We need variety in our lives, and we need an emotional ebb and flow. Otherwise, we start to become desensitized to things. Not because we’re terrible, callous humans. But because that’s just the way we are. It’s how we learn to adapt and survive and protect ourselves.
So show the need for your nonprofit, but show it from different perspectives whenever possible. Interview a volunteer. Ask for a testimonial from an outside agency that works with you. Give your story different voices. That will give you a different tone too.
Ask for professional help
Although it’s not listed, your initial step in setting up your email marketing campaign should be to talk to the professionals who understand the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR compliance and the particulars of email marketing. Hire a professional to get you started so you’re not putting your nonprofit in jeopardy for having issues in the future. This is what we do at Wanna Pixel, and the team will be happy to help.
If you’d like to learn how email segmentation can help you raise more money, take a look at this article from Wanna Pixel’s Kelly Kulp.