Optimizing Email Acquisition for Non-Profits: The Same Best Practices Apply

Posted by Margaret Farmakis 

We often write about the challenges that B2B and B2C marketers face when it comes to using the email channel for retention and acquisition. After all, battling inbox clutter to stand out and be relevant, keeping subscribers engaged and growing files are top concerns for almost all email marketers.

Which might lead you to wonder about non-profits and charitable organizations. Do they face similar challenges? Are they focused on optimizing email for their business goals? Do the same best practices apply? Our non-profit clients have shown us that the answers are a resounding yes, yes and yes!

One might assume that non-profits have an easier time of leveraging email from both a relationship-building and revenue-generating standpoint. Surely it would be hard to find a more engaged house file than one with subscribers who are committed to a charitable organization; a file filled with dedicated folks who donate their money, volunteer their time and make their voices heard by spreading the word about new research or upcoming fundraisers. This loyal audience must, at the very least, be opening and reading their emails, and be highly motivated to click-through or forward emails to friends and family members.

Not necessarily, our non-profit clients tell us. They are working just as hard as traditional marketers to search for new ways to provide subscribers with relevant content that goes beyond donation requests. And their primary concern? File growth; essential for raising awareness and bringing new donors and volunteers into the fold. Organic methods are quickly being tapped out, but the need to reach out to a wider donor base never goes away.

That’s why many charitable organizations are following the lead of B2B and B2C marketers and using paid acquisition strategies, such as lead generation and email list rental, as viable solutions for growing their files. And why not? These methods are a great fit for non-profits looking to push their messages out to a targeted audience of donors and volunteers.

We’ve also seen many of the core best practices for successfully executing an email acquisition campaign apply to non-profit mailings. With 15 seconds to drive the click, businesses and non-profits alike are in the same boat, and the “one email, one message” mantra holds true. Charitable organizations must clearly and succinctly state their value propositions in order to motivate prospects to click-through their offers.

Non-profits can also benefit from lowering the barrier to commitment. An email acquisition campaign is often a prospect’s first introduction to an organization. It’s a lot easier to make a decision to sign up and learn more about the charitable mission, volunteer opportunities or fundraising events than it is to make a decision to donate right away, the next 15 seconds.

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