- Tue, April 10 2012
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
Blog reader Marla Grant of the Florida Blood Services Foundation recently sent me a copy of her newsletters (you can see them here), which are chock-a-block with great stories. She was wondering how to increase donations through this email outreach, and kindly agreed to my sharing my advice as a post.
Here are my 7 ideas for better response rates.
1. Have a subject line that makes you want to read more. My friend Kivi Leroux Miller talks about bad subject lines being a wrapper (example: September Diabetes eNews) and good subject lines being the candy in the wrapper (example: 6 ways to manage your diabetes). Make it interesting, so people open the message in the first place.
2. Start with story that’s compelling and relevant to the reader. Here is where Marla’s organization is hitting it out of the park. Her newsletters are full of moving stories that are personal and highly relevant to the reader. But there are a lot of them! Which brings me to my next point…
3. Say less. A lot less. An e-newsletter needs to be far, far shorter than what you’d send in print. Anything over 500 words is really pushing it, in my view. If you must have multiple stories, just provide the first part of each and link to the rest. Remember, people tend to be in a hurry in their inbox and they skim more than they read. The newsletters Marla sent have great content - but so much of it, it’s hard to absorb and unclear where to focus first. I’m speaking from experience. The number one compliment I get on this blog from people who subscribe via email is that it’s short, with one main concept each time. (I take this as a compliment!)
4. Go easy on the eyes. Just as you want to be short and sweet in email, you want to go easy on the eyes—go for uncluttered, easy to read messages. Too many articles and sidebars and buttons and images will overwhelm the reader and lower your conversion rates drastically.
5. Ask for one thing. Be clear about the purpose of each piece of email outreach. Is it a thank-you full of stories of change and transformation? Is it a fundraising appeal? Is it to inspire involvement in an event? You want your e-news to have a focus and one clear call to action. Tightly sticking to a theme and reducing the options for action to one (or at most two) will boost response rates. Too many options, just like too much information, really hurts conversion.
6. Ask explicitly. Are you directly and clearly asking for action? A Donate button off to the side isn’t enough if the goal of the e-news is to raise money. Ask in the text too.
7. Provide multiple, obvious links for the same action. Make it incredibly easy for people to act by including links throughout the text and on buttons. The more obvious, the better the conversion.