Fri, December 20 2013
As you send your final emails of the year, your subject lines will be even more crucial to your campaign’s success. Here’s a helpful guest post from our friend, Ryan Pinkham of Constant Contact. As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.
I wish I could tell you that somewhere out there is the perfect subject line, one that could send your open rates skyrocketing and make opt-outs and spam reports ancient history. But I can’t. I can tell you, however, that creating almost perfect subject lines for your nonprofit is possible
To do it, you first need to understand a few important things:
1. People won’t act unless told to do so.
Before sending your email, stop and ask yourself: What action do I want the recipient to take? That action won’t always be one that has an immediate impact on your organization (donate now!) but it should be the first step in some path toward driving real results from your email marketing. Keep in mind that your subject line will be the first impression your email has on your reader—making it your first call to action will improve the likelihood that your reader will act.
2. People care more about the sender than the message.
While the content of your email and the design of your subject line are important, nothing is more important than the relationship the recipient has with the sender (that’s you!). According to a recent Constant Contact study, 64% of people open emails because of the organization it is from, compared with 47% of people opening emails because of what is in the subject line.
Want the best results? Tell people who the email is from in the subject line.
Here are a few examples:
• [Your Organization Name]: Our Winter Event is December 15
• Celebrate winter with [Your Organization Name] on December 15
• [Your Organization Name] News: Our Winter Event is December 15
3. People are skeptical of most emails.
The best way to overcome this hesitation is to think about why your subscribers signed up to receive your emails in the first place. (If you don’t know, then you may want to send out a survey to your supporters asking what types of the content they want to see or include a survey in your initial welcome email.)
4. People do NOT like to have their time wasted.
When it comes to your emails, you have at most, only a few minutes to get your message across. When it comes to your subject line, you have only a few seconds to capture their attention. It’s no surprise then that subject lines with less than 50 characters have open rates 12.5% higher than those with 50 characters or more, and click-through rates are 75% higher.
Keep in mind that the typical inbox preview pane will show only 30 to 40 characters (the typical mobile device shows around 15 characters). If possible, shoot for 25 to 40 characters or five to eight words.
5. People respond to numbers.
Numbers help quantify your message and put the content people are receiving into terms they understand.
Here are a few ways to do it:
• Monetary value: $5,000 in Scholarships This Year
• List: 5 ways you can get involved this month
• Percentage: Help us support 100% more families in 2014
6. People are more likely to act when they feel a sense of urgency.
This is especially true if you’re running a fundraiser or trying to drive attendance to an upcoming event. In these situations, the difference between using a subject line like: “Join our December fundraiser,” or “Only 5 days left to donate to [Your Organization Name]” can be huge.
7. People hate being misled.
It may not be your intention, but if your subject lines aren’t telling the whole truth or are structured in a way your audience may misunderstand—than you could be putting your reputation at risk. Make sure you’re choosing your words carefully when crafting your next subject line.
8. People want things to be personal, just not too personal.
There is a right way and a wrong way to personalize your subject lines. The right way is to add a more personal touch by using words like “you” or “your” (such as: “10 Ways to Improve Your Water Supply”). It lets people know that there’s an actual person sending the email and that they understand their interests as a reader. The wrong way to personalize your emails is by including the recipient’s name in the subject line. This is a practice that is most typically used by spammers. (Check your spam or junk folder for plenty of examples of these.)
9. People do not respond to all caps and exclamation points.
Resist the temptation to use and abuse capital letters and to over-punctuate. It COMES ACROSS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING, makes your email look like spam, and will dramatically increase the likelihood of your email being filtered.
10. People are starting to think much more socially.
Marketers aren’t the only ones looking for inspiration for content to share on Facebook or ideas for things to tweet about—your supporters are, too. If you have a socially savvy audience, thinking of your subject line as status update on Facebook or a tweet can improve your email’s shareability.
Now, take the time to get better results.
Remember, your subject line is one of the most important parts of your entire email. If people aren’t opening your emails, they won’t see the great content you’re sending out. This could mean that they’ll be missing opportunities to support your cause and get involved.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to getting more opens, more action, and better results all around.
What are your strategies for writing great subject lines? Share them in the comments below.
Wed, December 18 2013
Filed under: Websites and web usability •
Last week I shared several ways to get your nonprofit’s website ready for year-end fundraising. Hopefully you’ve been able to put at least a few of these tips into practice. If a website redesign is on your to-do list for 2014, these elements should be top of mind. Of course, there is a lot more to consider when taking on a major website project.
To help you understand the process, the folks at Wired Impact have created a nifty infographic that summarizes the key steps in designing your nonprofit website. Check it out below and post a comment to share what’s on your website wish list for the coming year.
(Can’t see the infographic?
Visit Wired Impact to download the full image.)
Tue, December 17 2013
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Network for Good is once again providing year-end giving data for The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2013 Year-End Online Giving Tracker. You can use this resource to see how online giving is stacking up each day of December and to compare those numbers with the last few years. To supply the data for the tracker, we looked at a set of 14,300 charities who received donations through Network for Good’s online giving platform. You can view this data by month, by week, or look at the entire span of information from November 1st through the end of the year.
Check it out by visiting The Chronicle’s site, and let us know how the trends compare to your own year-end fundraising results.
Fri, December 13 2013
As part of Network for Good’s Fundraising Fundamentals premium training, I am reviewing a lot of nonprofit websites to offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. While most of these sites are not “broken” in the technical sense, many of them are broken when we look at them through a fundraising lens. Without clear paths to donate to your cause, your website is working against your fundraising efforts. This is especially dangerous in December when donors are making more gifts online than in any other month.
Whether or not your donors give online through your website, many will be visiting your nonprofit’s website to learn more about your organization. This month, your nonprofit home page should be all about year-end fundraising. You need to make sure your online presence gives prospective donors a fast and easy way to find out more about your programs, understand where the money goes, and (of course) DONATE.
So, in these last few critical weeks of the year, give your site a once over to see if it’s broken in the fundraising sense. Want to make it better? Here are some fast fundraising fixes for getting more donations this December:
Keep it big, bold, and above the fold.
This is what all good donate buttons should strive to be. Your buttons should stand out and be large enough to find and click within a few seconds of landing on your website. It should look like a button and give donors a visual cue that it is clickable.
Miriam’s Kitchen has a nicely-placed, large donate button that is obviously clickable and stands out from the rest of their page:
Take donors directly to your form.
When donors click on your donate button, don’t take them on the scenic route. Send them directly to your form and make sure that it is optimized for giving. Your page should make the donation process simple and rewarding. (Make sure your donation page is ready for prime time with these tips.)
Offer more than one path to give.
Include multiple donate links on your home page (and other key pages) that go straight to your donation form. Use a combination of buttons, text links, and headlines to appeal to all types of visitors. Generally, more links mean more traffic to your donation page.
Best Friends Animal Society offers three ways for people to immediately give right from their home page:
Make your donation page only one click away.
Along the same lines, visitors should never be more than one click away from your donation page at all times. Keep the option to give visible and easily accessible no matter where a visitor is on your site.
Use consistent language for buttons and links.
Be explicit and don’t make donors wonder what you’re asking them to do. Focus on one of the following words: Give, Donate, or Contribute—and stick to that one word throughout the donation process. Asking people to join is problematic unless membership is truly the core of your organization. Asking people to support you is largely meaningless to most users and does not signify giving.
Use a home page takeover.
Also known as a lightbox, splash screen, pop-up, or even “homepage hijack.” Whatever name you prefer, this is a special version of your home page that has a sole purpose of generating donations. A year-end takeover should be bold and clear and offer no more than three options: donate now, learn more, and click to the usual home page. Some organizations have had success in making the splash screen the actual donation form. These types of takeovers should go up at least for the last week of the year.
Here’s a wonderful example from Habitat for Humanity New York City:
Don’t have the option to add a lightbox to your website this month? There are other easy ways to make your home page focused on fundraising. N Street Village‘s home page is a great example of how to incorporate this same idea into your existing website design.
(For more on how you can incorporate lightboxes into your year-end website plans, Pamela Grow has some advice and Mandy O’Neill of Connected Nonprofit shares how and why lightboxes work.)
Show where the money goes.
If you don’t have it already, create a simple “Why Donate” page and provide links to this page from your “About Us” section, home page, and donation form. On this page, include easy-to-understand pie charts and clear descriptions of where your money comes from and where it goes. Add links to your full financials and your annual report. Use reader-friendly language that a donor can quickly scan and understand in under 30 seconds. No jargon or complicated (read: boring) copy that makes donors’ eyes glaze over.
Highlight your endorsements.
Testimonials, ratings, and seals of approval are all powerful cues that tell potential donors that yours is an organization that they can trust, because others are willing to speak on your behalf. Showcase these on your home page, your donation page, as well as your “Why Donate” page.
Don’t forget about mobile.
With a high number of people reading email on mobile devices, the key landing pages of your website, and your donation forms, need to be mobile friendly and easy to use on smartphones. Keeping things uncluttered and focused on one clear call to action will help. (Find out how to make your nonprofit’s website mobile friendly with these simple tweaks.)
Taking care of these website must-haves will help your organization make the most of its year-end campaign. Happy Fundraising!
For more tips on making your nonprofit website the best it can be, download our free ebook: How to Create an Effective Nonprofit Website.
Tue, December 10 2013
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Need help with your final appeals of the year? There’s still time to register for our free webinar happening today.
Here’s what I’ll cover in this session:
—How many messages you need to send these last few weeks of the year
—What you must include in your appeals to inspire giving
—When to send your appeals for maximum impact
—Examples of great appeals for you to copy
—Plus, we’ll leave plenty of time for your questions
Bonus: If you register for the webinar, you’ll not only get the recording and slides from the session, we’ll send you a free copy of our year-end appeal template to help you craft your final appeals. (Or, you can use it to check the messages you already have scheduled.)
I hope to see you there!
Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising Appeals
TODAY: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm EST
(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway and we’ll send the recording of the presentation, slides, and free appeal template straight to your inbox!)