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The Right E-mail Tactics Can Make Holidays Merry for Retailers

The holiday buying season is around the corner, and e-mail is more important than ever in the retail marketing mix for both existing customer lists and prospecting e-mail lists. Marketers planning for fourth quarter success may want to check plans against the “Ultimate Guide to Holiday E-mail Marketing” post offered by Campaign Monitor for some basic strategies and examples.

Leverage Online Buying, Mobile and Personalization Trends

Targeted e-mail marketing is positioned to capitalize on three big retail marketing trends: online buying, mobile commerce, and personalization. Four out of five Americans are now online shoppers, per Pew Research, so marketers will want to join the 41% of retailers that use “Buy Now” buttons in their e-mail marketing to link shoppers directly and quickly to online purchase pages. Mobile-optimized e-mails (linked to mobile-optimized landing pages) will also deliver more dollars because half of those online buyers make purchases using a mobile device. Sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2018 surpassed $2 billion, breaking the previous record set in 2017, and, according to Movable Ink, 76% of Black Friday e-mails and 63% of Cyber Monday e-mails are opened on a mobile device.  Finally, now that personalization is demanded by consumers across channels, quality e-mail list data and segmentation can create the personalized e-mail messaging that delivers six times higher e-mail transaction rates, that converts 202% better than default e-mail calls to action (per HubSpot), and that generates a median e-mail ROI of 122% (per Instapage research). And don’t forget that personalized e-mail subject lines generate an average of 50% higher open rates (per Oberlo data)!

Start by Crafting Subject Lines that Get Opens

Indeed, the subject line is the first step in getting an e-mail noticed and opened. And on the subject of subject lines, Campaign Monitor has distilled some key tips. As noted above, personalize the subject line to boost open rates, using list data such as first name, for example, as well as relevant messaging based on purchase history, geography, gender, site actions/browsing, etc. Keep the subject line short but pack in “power words” that tap emotions and drive action, including sales-driven words (deal, promotion, discount, savings, free shipping); time-urgency words (order now, limited time, today only, last minute, exclusive); holiday references (12 Deals of Christmas, Season’s Greetings); and gratitude expressions (Thank you, appreciation, your support). Try engaging with a question (Need gift ideas?) or an eye-catching emoji. Brands using an emoji in their subject lines report a 45% increase in unique open rates, per Experian. Including an enticing offer in the subject line can help grab opens, too. For example, a mention of free shipping gains the interest of 74% of consumers, per UPS.

Use Holiday Messaging That Drives Action

Research shows e-mail creative earns more click-throughs and conversions by making the call-to-action prominent via an eye-catching button with short text (Buy Now, Save 40%). Make sure the button has a trackable link to a landing page where the recipient can buy the specific offer in the e-mail rather than a home page or generic purchase page where prospects must search for the offer. Overall, messaging can use holiday shopping fever to heat up response with tactics such as offering a gift buying guide, pumping a Cyber Monday or Black Friday sale, offering a special gift for referring a friend, incorporating a traditional or pop-culture holiday theme, or catering to panicked last-minute shoppers (In 2015, the average shopper had only completed a little over half their shopping list two weeks before Christmas). For inspiration from real e-mail examples, go to the Campaign Monitor article.


Year-end Fundraising Needs Multi-Channel, Multi-Touch Effort

Even though AccuList USA’s nonprofit clients are deep into year-end donation drives, it’s worth checking off fundraising benchmarks to give those final tweaks and finishes before New Year’s. MobileCause, a fundraising software and strategy firm, has developed a handy infographic based on marketing research and insights gleaned from its webinar attendees.

Multi-channel Campaigns Maximize Giving

A key takeaway is that branded, multi-channel campaigns raise both more immediate dollars and have more long-term value, with 61% of donors more likely to give again. The infographic cites Japs-Olson Company data to prove the point: Response rates are 6% for direct mail only, 27% for direct mail and web, 27% for direct mail and e-mail, and 37% for the combination of direct mail, web and e-mail. While direct mail remains the centerpiece of donation drives, with 71% to 81% of donations from mail, greater success requires combining and coordinating channels.

Multiple Appeals Drive Donor Action

It is also essential to make multiple appeals across channels, since research shows that it takes a minimum of three exposures to a message to generate a decision. MobileCause suggests the following tactics for maximum impact: a warm-up letter, an appeal letter, a follow-up letter, and e-mails every two weeks, all supported by website home page articles, customized donation form and personal communication (such as phone calls). Don’t neglect to craft social media ads, too. Plus, plan to use video to drive engagement and response across channels–on social pages, e-mail, and website (Augmented Reality can even add video to paper mail, too). You’ll be in sync with MobileCause attendees: 61% plan to add video to campaigns, 23% plan a custom donation page, and 21% plan an online landing page.

Timing and Planning Make the Difference

By December, fundraisers should be reaping the results of efforts that launched in October, when website, donation page and videos were readied and the first year-end appeal mailed. November should have leveraged Giving Tuesday and e-mail follow-ups. But now that we’re in December, there’s still time for the extra push. Consider a Dec. 26 year-end e-appeal and a Dec. 31 last chance e-appeal, for example.

Check out the year-end giving infographic from MobileCause for more data and tips.

E-mail Regaining Its Lead Role in Fundraising Digital Strategy

In 2017, e-mail is expected to regain its lead role in the digital efforts of nonprofit fundraisers, per numerous nonprofit marketing pros. Certainly, AccuList USA is ready to support that trend with a proprietary compilation of the top fundraising direct mail and opt-in e-mail lists  (check out our free download). In addition to smart list selection, fundraisers and fundraising consultants can make the most of a renewed e-mail focus with tactics like those provided in a recent post for thedatabank.com by Michael Stein, a nonprofit consultant and digital strategist.

Plan for a Successful E-mail Reboot

To maximize response, e-mail outreach in 2017 may require nonprofits to reboot, refresh and rethink, says Stein.  He urges marketers to address four basic issues before blasting out e-mails: Check to see if your e-mail template or e-newsletter needs a creative refresh; make sure the e-mail works well for mobile viewers; consider a rewrite of your welcome e-mail to new subscribers for better engagement; and develop new creative and messaging ideas to test for boosted e-mail fundraising appeal.

‘Mobilize,’ Personalize, Automate

Mobile readiness is essential for wooing donors, especially given, as Stein cites, the recent Movable Ink report that, across industries, 69% of e-mail opens were on a mobile device. A good mobile experience should extend from the e-mail subject line to the website landing page and, most importantly, to the donation page, advises Stein. Personalizing is another proven way to maximize e-mail response, and that means more than dropping in a first-name greeting. It means digital messaging with relevant, timely content based on smart e-mail list segmentation, using data such as event attendance, website downloads, and donation amount or frequency. Finally, marketers need e-mail automation, especially for timely engagement of new e-mail subscribers and donors. Automated responses should include key transactions such as e-mail subscription, event signups, and online giving, since these are often the most opened and read e-mails, says Stein.

Make It Graphic & Multi-channel

Testing by nonprofits has shown that use of graphics and video significantly boosts fundraising response rates. So write fewer words and show more images, urges Stein. Use a graphic to present a call to action or embed a video to replace a paragraph, for example. Finally, e-mail’s fundraising effectiveness is higher when it is part of an integrated multi-channel effort. That should include social media platforms since including social media advertising in digital campaigns often delivers a lift in revenues taken in by e-mails and websites.

For more advice from Stein, go to https://www.thedatabank.com/2017/03/harness-the-latest-giving-trends-for-digital-fundraising-success/ And if you like infographics and want benchmark data on what other nonprofits are doing with e-mail, check out http://blog.winspireme.com/nonprofit-email-marketing-infographic-ebook.