Because of the rate of technological innovation, many might imagine that email will soon become irrelevant. When nonprofit fundraising emails decline in performance, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that this must be because email is losing efficacy.
However, the problem lies not in the power of email itself, but in HOW nonprofit email marketing programs are run. There are two main problems with many email fundraising approaches.
1. Even when fundraisers recognize the value of email, they often underutilize its capabilities.
According to Adestra’s 2015 Email Marketing Industry Census, email continued to be a major source of ROI for all sectors that responded.
Based on the results of the census, it’s clear that email is and will continue to be a valuable strategy–and nonprofits agree.
Yet when we analyze their email performance in the study, nonprofit organizations scored poorly.
As you can see, there is definitely plenty of room for improvement. It’s not that email is no longer effective, it is simply not being used to its full capacities.
Email will continue to be a reliable channel, however in the future, the level of return will increasingly depend on how much strategic effort organizations choose to place on their approaches.
Nonprofits need to take a more ambitious approach to email marketing. This means collaborating with email marketing providers, choosing great email software (there are plenty of free software options) increasing efficiency, and investing more time to improve email programs.
2. Fundraising email engagement has dropped due to an increase in donation form abandonment.
An important key to getting the most out of email comes from understanding the REAL reason why email response rates have dropped.
The M+R 2015 Nonprofit Benchmark Study (surveying 84 nonprofits) shows that fundraising email engagement dropped in 2014 from the previous year because of the increase in donation form abandonment. Some notable stats from this study include:
From this data, we can conclude that even when donors click through to a website page to complete a donation form, friction during the process often leads to abandonment. We can also see that there are issues in the emails themselves that are causing low click through rates. Subsequently response rates that have dropped not due to the properties of email itself, but to the shortcomings of nonprofit email marketing.
How to Fix These Problems:
The drop in response rates is not occurring because email itself is losing efficacy. If nonprofits simply decide to invest more strategic time in improving their email program–that is taking the time to develop an effective strategy that produces RESULTS–and reducing friction on donation pages, they will increase fundraising email response rates and get the most out of their email programs. What steps do you plan to take to improve your email fundraising?