In GlobalGiving’s fifth Online Fundraising Academy session, we invited our own Alison Carlman, to share tips and key lessons she’s learned in donor communications. In her role as Unmarketing Manager, Alison is responsible for engaging the GlobalGiving community and for telling the stories of GlobalGiving and its partner projects. In 2013, Alison and her team raised $270,000 from donor emails.
Session Recording: http://www.anymeeting.com/globalgivingUS/EF54D686844C
Listen, test, learn, repeat – experimentation and testing key to improving work
- Listen to your audience, peers, research
- Test assumptions in experiments
- Learn from your experiments
- Do it again and again and again!
This is how GlobalGiving Listens, Tests, Learns and Repeats:
- Users – your audience, the people who receive messages
- To improve our e-newsletter, we got feedback from users – who opens, donates, clicks
- What we learned:
- Keep it short – people don’t read news
- Talk about the users, not you – what’s relevant to them, why they should care
- Made it even shorter
- Use big images – people click on the header image
- Use clear images with one person making eye contact.
- Add humor, make it clever and unexpected – include jokes, puns
- Have a big and clear call-to-action – make your ask clear and easy for users to do
- Personalize it! – add people’s names, send personalized thank you. Users like to know they’ve been thought of, not just written to the masses.
- Peers – similar organizations you can learn from
- charity: water – use beautiful image, well laid-out, formatted for mobile phones, very little text, interesting lead text, unexpected, humorous and large call-to-action
- donorschoose.org – personalized by state, simple and short, made it sound urgent, very clear request
- Kiva – personalized, clear call-to-action, made it look like it was forwarded by a staff member
- Did A/B testing (divide users into 2 groups and provided a different email to each group to see which email did better)
- Kiva’s “trick” forwarded email performed 2x as well
- Personalizing really works!
- What we learned:
- Use beautiful imagery.
- Make it mobile friendly
- Keep it brief.
- Use interesting lead text.
- Try unexpected/humorous (but still visibly clear) calls-to-action.
- Try unexpected subject lines and formats
- Project report titles are now the subject line when project reports are sent out to GlobalGiving donors
- Theory – what does the research say?
- Shorten distance between user and subject matter – connect them to one person/animal/object. Easier to feel like you can make a difference in one person’s life than a big group.
- Tell a compelling story about that one person – how a person has overcome an obstacle or how they have potential to overcome obstacles
- Donors will give if they feel it will bring them close to people in their network – focus on what you can do for your users. Give them something to share so they can connect to their social network.
- People give more when it’s easy – Make the process to give as easy as possible. And give reminders
- Not all donors are the same – these tips won’t work for everyone. Need different messages for different donors.
Test, learn and repeat
- Look at metrics to measure success of email