Courtesy of Emma, our wonderful new email partner here at Network for Good, these tips:As with most things, the art of enticing new subscribers depends a lot on the kinds of emails you send and the kind of people you’re trying to attract. Realize that by offering tons of enticements to recruit subscribers, you’re likely to get more addresses but wind up with members who may be a bit fickle. Conversely, by understating the value of your emails, or not promoting the signup link enough, your list will likely be made up of very loyal readers, you just won’t have lots of them. We call this the Inverse Loyalty Curve. Actually we just made the whole ‘Inverse Loyalty Curve’ thing up, but if we were to give it a name, Inverse Loyalty Curve would be it, and before you know it people would be blogging about ‘Inverse Loyalty Curve this’ and ‘Inverse Loyalty Curve that.’ Pretty soon there would be entire books and seminars devoted to it. But back to the matter at hand.So you want to entice people to join your list? Here are five quick tips:Why should someone sign up? Tell them. Ask yourself why someone should sign up to get your emails. Is it because they’ll get tips that can help them eat healthier or access to articles before they’re published? And then make your case clearly to prospective subscribers. Don’t just ask them to sign up for your emails; instead, ask them to sign up for your emails to get exclusive, email-only insider information (or whatever the reward might be).Ask when they’re most likely to say yes. In life, timing is everything.* So make sure you ask people to join your list when they’re most likely to say yes: after they’ve just made a donation, just filled out a survey for you or when they’ve just read the most fascinating article on your website. So be sure to incorporate your ‘join now’ link and teaser into the parts of your website where people are most likely to jump at the chance. We call these open-minded moments.Make it super easy. The people who love you will be perfectly content to fill out three screens of information and take a short survey to join your list. The people who like you may not. So keep your signup process short and sweet. Minimize the clicks, and ask only for the information you truly need (if you’re not planning on using people’s birthdate information later, don’t trouble people for it). And by all means don’t mislead people into thinking the process is short and sweet only to hit them with a 20-minute routine. (You’ve seen signups that ask only for your email address followed by a ‘join’ button – but instead of joining you’re greeted by 20 more fields and a citizenship test.) Make signing up a pleasant, fast experience, and you’ll lose fewer people along the way. Offer something in return. It’s possible the content of your emails is reward enough. But you might also consider offering people a bit of instant gratification for joining. Remember that you can customize the thank-you screen that greets new subscribers. Get creative and make the thank-you screen itself a printable VIP ticket to your next event, or include a link to premium content (say, a download for 10 Ways to Manage Your Diabetes, if your organization is concerned with diabetes).Above all, keep it simple. MarketingSherpa (a great resource, if you don’t already know them) published the results of a lengthy experiment conducted by the Motley Fool in which a financial content service tested all sorts of signup elements – short teaser text versus a longer list of subscriber benefits, calling it ‘membership’ rather than simply joining a list, offering lots of content choices rather than just one, and so on – to see how it affected their new-subscriber numbers. In the end, Motley Fool found that keeping things simple worked best.Shameless plug by me as COO of Network for Good: If you don’t have an email campaign tool, we offer EmailNow powered by Emma at a great rate at Network for Good.
While the economic news may not be the cheeriest these days, we’ve got some good news for you about the return you’ll get on those email marketing dollars. The smart folks at the DMA (that’s the Direct Marketing Association) reported that in 2007, email marketing returned about $48 for every dollar invested, the highest of all the marketing channels out there.With the pittance it costs to send an email, you get all three of a marketer’s favorite things-relevant messages, brand appeal and the ability to measure it all. So keep up the great work you’re already doing with email, and consider these five tips as well:Use email to reduce other costs. On top of being cost-effective, email can help cut costs elsewhere. Look at what you’re currently printing-holiday cards, birthday postcards, invitations-and ask yourself, “Could this be emailed instead?” (Whoa, not out loud. There are better office nicknames than The Postcard Whisperer.)Save time, too, with trigger emails that automatically welcome new subscribers or follow up around important dates. When you’re no longer handling that stuff manually, you’ll have more time to focus on higher revenue, better service or more precise dart-throwing. Hey, we all have our priorities.Use email to get valuable information. Everybody’s crunching the numbers a little more diligently right now, looking for trends, patterns, or, in freak cases, practice with long division. Some of the most valuable statistics to watch are the response numbers that roll in after you send a campaign. A dedicated review of ’em will help you and your team spot stand-out content or subscribers who’d likely respond well to follow-up-all valuable information to apply to future campaigns.Use email to build brand loyalty. In a downturn, keeping your supporters happy and engaged is more important than ever. With regular email campaigns, you’ve already got an easy, friendly way to remind your subscribers why they know and love you. In your emails, make a point to highlight your organization’s best qualities. Reward your most loyal supporters with a coupon you had donated by a sponsor or send a special invitation to your holiday party. Oh, and be personal. The more your subscribers identify with you, the more likely they’ll be to support you.Use email the right way. As you refine your strategy to suit the economic climate, don’t stray off the path of email marketing’s best practices. It may be tempting to do something brash, like buy or rent a list. (Ick!) Or send every other day. (Ack!) Or even abandon your well-honed segmentation strategy for the ol’ “batch and blast” approach. (Blarg!)Keep your focus on a smart, permission-based strategy, and you’ll continue to see more value for your brand, your sending reputation and your results. Also, we’ve never heard “blarg” used like that.
About Spitfire Spitfire Strategies (www.spitfirestrategies.com) offers nonprofits and foundations communications planning, counsel and training to help them create positive social change.Our goal is to help social change organizations use their voice in a strong, clear and compelling way to articulate their vision of a better world. We craft effective communications strategies and bring ideas to life. Spitfire then works with our clients to build the best team to implement those ideas. We work with organizations to build the necessary internal capacity to communicate effectively over the long term. This guide, from the talented team at Spitfire Strategies and the Communications Leadership Institute, is designed to provide organizations and coalitions with just enough of a process for planning successful campaigns. The guide is designed to work best with policy campaigns, issue campaigns, corporate campaigns and public education campaigns. If you are looking to pass a law, win popular support for an issue, organize a boycott or let a bunch of people know that something is bad for them, this guide is for you. It could also help you with another type of campaign, but we chose to focus on the types of campaigns mentioned above to make the tool more concise.Download The Just Enough Planning Guide below.For some people, planning a campaign is less about following a process and more about following their instincts. Long-time campaigners believe they have a feel for the road. With each new campaign, they load the station wagon with all the gear that has served them well in the past—all the tools and the processes. They have a destination in mind, shift into autopilot, and the campaign strategy unfolds from reflex and memory. Experience has taught them well—they pack light and know all the shortcuts. Or do they?For less experienced campaigners, the tendency is to overpack for fear they’ll find themselves down the road lacking a key tactic or guide. They bring it all along for the ride. Then, they often hit every attraction and marker along the way, even when it pulls them off track from their true destination—if they were even clear about their destination when they started.Organizations looking to run effective campaigns need to find the middle ground between the underpackers and the overpackers. They must chart the “happy planning medium” between the Autobahn speedsters and the country road rovers. They need a go-to planning source that offers assistance with the campaign at hand and campaigns ahead—a guide that can help them define their destination, assess whether or not they can get there, launch them in the right direction, measure their progress and (when necessary) be flexible enough to make changes on the fly.With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Spitfire Strategies and the Communications Leadership Institute set out to find the perfect approach to campaign planning. In our search, we found that groups approach campaign planning in many different ways. Some follow highly detailed guides and processes that we dubbed the “War and Peace planning method.” These costly affairs are time intensive, cover even the most minute details, and take a long time to learn and implement. Other groups seem to wing it, resulting in one of two possible outcomes—haphazard success or derailment. Surprisingly, a number of the campaigns with seemingly little planning still achieve exactly what they set out to do. However, a good many others are stymied by unforeseen events that derail them and cause the campaigners to waste too much time and money to ever get things back on track.After much effort, we could not find the campaign planning tool we were seeking, so we created this: The Just Enough Planning Guide™. It borrows from what we consider to be the best practices out there and provides organizations and coalitions with a planning process that gives them a clear sense of where they are going, the best way to get there, and what to expect along the way.To those using this guide, we make three promises:We didn’t make this up. We studied dozens of campaigns, some successful and some not, so we could share the lessons learned. We also asked bona fide experts who have won a campaign or two (and lost others) to describe the key planning elements—not all the bells and whistles, just the “musthaves”—and we included those here.We left plenty of room for flexibility and creativity. For minimal planners, this guide doesn’t constrain the creative process; rather, it helps you organize your creativity in a way that channels all your brilliant ideas to help you achieve your campaign’s goal. It also lets you build your campaign your way. You determine the main components of your campaign—we help you plan for them.We kept it as simple as possible. We know that a successful planning guide can’t burden you with so many stops, detours and roadside attractions that you start asking, “Are we there yet?” This guide will help you on your way, not get in your way.
Need help getting started online? Talk to one of our friendly team members who can give you the skinny on Network for Good’s online fundraising solution, DonateNow. Call 888.284.7978 x1 or email us. Question: “Our existing website is not great and we are currently not able to take online donations. Is it worth setting up online donation capabilities now or should we redo our website first?” – ArdenAnswer: Absolutely, completely and totally worth setting up online donations now. Your website may not be beautiful, but it can certainly be functional. Website visitors have come to expect donation capabilities for charities, just as they expect to be able to purchase goods through the Internet. This is an important and inexpensive channel to raise vital funds. It’s a missed opportunity to continue online-donation-less. (Be sure to read this article for more background on why getting started in a big way is important for your organization and your donors.)
For a sector defined by its lack of revenue (“nonprofit”), we sure talk about money a lot with our audiences–as in fundraising dollars, grants, special event tickets and so on.But what four-letter word do supporters want to hear? What model should you incorporate into your organization’s culture to better connect with supporters and potential supporters?Free.For all the money and engagement you’re requesting from supporters for tickets, donations and other expenses, one model for success your organization should consider is this: “inspire and connect now, reap all sorts of benefits-including monetary ones-later.”Here are few tips for getting “free” out the door and supporters to come strolling through it:Incorporate “free” into your branding goals and strategy. Put yourself in your supporters’ shoes for a second. When they receive an email from your organization, what’s their first thought? “Oh, no, not another fundraising appeal!” Remember this: You do not dictate your brand-others do. Make sure your stakeholders are in a position to look at your nonprofit in a positive light. Organize events without a price tag (sure, you can accept donations, but don’t require them); send your supporters a recent news article relevant to your mission just because you think they’d be interested; let them know what services you provided your constituents because of previous generosity. These freebies allow you to put a face to your organization, as opposed to an open palm.Offer “freebies” on your website to empower your supporters to become your champions. Maybe you started Facebook page or Cause, and your base is growing. Great. Now what? Empower your groups members to do the work for you! Upload great content for your supporters to spread on your organization’s behalf. This approach is great for at least three reasons: one, you’re engaging your current supporters and cultivating your relationships; two, it’s cheaper than trying to reach new networks on your own; and, three, your supporters are giving more credibility to your nonprofit than you can. Add a section to your website and Cause page with great content: podcasts, videos, text to Tweet with (that’s info to post on Twitter), links, stories, etc. Make it as easy as possible for your message to go viral.Set goals that do not have *direct* revenue goals attached to them. As a fundraising, marketing, executive-directing guru, you want to see your returns on investment (who doesn’t?). Be sure to integrate some “free” initiatives into your marketing campaigns to achieve results other than direct donations: raise awareness about your cause or a timely event (a vote set to happen in your neighborhood, state, etc.), inspire volunteers and donors to act again, spread your message, and get advocacy efforts of the ground. This is another relationship-building opportunity; your supporters are people, not ATM’s, so find out what types of activities they want you to offer.Become a media contact dynamo. Create some free content that helps establish your organization as an expert in your field. (You are one, right?) Publish an article or blog entry on your website. Share some research you’ve done. Start following relevant blogs and join in the conversations. The end result? You’re the media and blogger go-to when they need info about your topic. Note: We’re not advocating you go and yell your unsolicited message at people. Listen, react, converse, repeat.These four “freebie” strategies will strengthen relationships with various groups: donors, volunteers, advocates, the media and other supporters. Investing your energy and time now (yes, we realize those certainly aren’t free!), you’re much more likely to convert those relationships into donations later. Wouldn’t you be more likely to give a friend a dollar than a stranger? Be that empowering and generous friend to your supporters.Just a note: Though appealing for donations should not always be the centerpiece of your marketing efforts, you should always offer a way to donate if people want it. Keep that “Donate Now” button available everywhere! (Button-less? You can always contact us at Network for Good for more information about getting started online.)
Happiness? by me.Did you know can?Yep.According to this article, “Happiness: A Buyer’s Guide” by Drake Bennett:A few researchers are looking again at whether happiness can be bought, and they are discovering that quite possibly it can – it’s just that some strategies are a lot better than others. Taking a friend to lunch, it turns out, makes us happier than buying a new outfit. Splurging on a vacation makes us happy in a way that splurging on a car may not… The problem isn’t money; it’s us. For deep-seated psychological reasons, when it comes to spending money, we tend to value goods over experiences, ourselves over others, things over people. When it comes to happiness, none of these decisions are right: The spending that make us happy, it turns out, is often spending where the money vanishes and leaves something ineffable in its place. Dear fundraisers, this is good news.The article (which is a must-read, if only to convince you it’s time to take out dear friends for dinner) draws ties to charity. Giving to charity or “prosocial spending” makes you happy, it finds. We’ve heard of this so-called “helper’s high” before. Giving to charity makes you feel good, perhaps even euphoric.Read the article and remember this: Asking for money is not about your need. It’s about what you can make your donors feel — happy. You’re in the business not only of doing good; you’re in the business of making people feel great.