Welcome to the latest instalment in our Digital Marketing 101 Series. This week, we’re talking email marketing and how to blast like a boss.
As every fundraising manager knows, the importance of cultivating and maintaining a high-quality email database can’t be underestimated. But it doesn’t end there of course – what you do with that database is equally important. Most of our readers will be familiar with the basics of how to run an email marketing campaign, but if you want to take your email campaigns to the next level, read on.
How to make your email campaigns work harder
1. Start using UTM parameters.
These are tags you add to your URLs that allow you to track the links people click on in your email campaigns, and they’re critical for understanding how people are accessing and interacting with your content.
It’s easy to get started: just use Google Analytic’s URL builder which takes you through the process step-by-step. You can also use UTM parameters to measure the number of click-throughs generated by your social media posts, cost-per-click campaigns and more.
Analysing the data generated by these tags will help you identify the most clickable content along with the pathways people are taking to reach your site so that you can tailor future communications accordingly.
2. Know (and segment) your audience.
Research shows that engagement and conversion rates soar when you tailor your communications to your specific recipients. But to do that, you need to know exactly who you’re talking to.
Persona development is a hugely valuable exercise that has the power to transform your digital communications. It involves the creation of fictional profiles of your various users, detailing their individual needs, interests and pain points. Through this exercise, you can become much more targeted with your email campaigns and should see a real lift in engagement as a result.
We encourage you to read all about how to create a customer persona before developing your own. Once you’ve developed your personas (a good number to aim for is four, although it might be less) you can then start to identify how, when and why you might be talking to these user types. You can also begin to categorise your email blasts and figure out which ones will be of interest to which personas. This ensures you’re not just blanket emailing your entire database and spamming people with irrelevant, impersonal information.
What’s more, you can also begin adapting the tone of your communications to suit different personas – after all, the tone you use to reconnect with a longstanding donor is likely to be different to that used to recruit event participants. Using the right tone and language to appeal to your different user types will help your message hit its mark.
If you need additional support in crafting email campaigns for specific audiences, check out our automated behavioural email coaching program, it offers a quick and easy route to targeting the right people with the right message, at the right time.
3. Review your analytics and act on them!
It’s become standard practice to report on all the basic email metrics like open, clickthrough, bounce and opt-out rates, but all too often, we fail to take the next step: using them to create an actionable strategy. The afore-mentioned high-level analytics reviews should arm you with a raft of valuable intel about when to send your emails, whom to send them to, if you’re sending them too frequently and so on.
It’s also worth categorising your emails (e.g. by separating them out into newsletter, promotion, campaign). This will help you to identify trends across emails that are alike – and sometimes even trends across emails that aren’t alike. The next level of this is to look into what kind of content your readers are most frequently engaging with. Is it video? Case studies? Blog posts? Understanding your readers’ sweet spot is key to developing more engaging email campaigns in the future.
4. Maintain a good sender score.
No one wants their carefully crafted emails to end up in the no man’s land of the promotions folder or, worse still, the dreaded junk folder. Your sender score is what your recipients’ inbox provider uses to categorise emails and check you’re not a spammer, so maintaining a respectable score is critical. It’s based on a number of factors including the quality of your content, the level of engagement your emails generally receive and the quality of the contacts you’re emailing.
Finding out your sender score is easy: just head to Return Path and enter your IP address to receive your score out of 100. If your score is over 90 (Everydayhero’s is in the high 90s) then kudos to you: your emails have excellent odds of arriving in fundraiser’s inboxes in the way you intended. Anything below 90 and you have some work to do. General watchouts include misspelled email addresses, bought data lists, a poorly maintained email database and poor-quality content. Excessive email blasts (or conversely, too few) are also red flags as they typically lead to a drop-off in engagement levels.
5. Pay attention to opt-outs.
Believe us when we say that opt-out reasons are your best friend. Admittedly, they can be pretty deflating, but knowing why people are losing interest in your emails is one of the most valuable pieces of information you have. Combine this with a thorough review of your email analytics data and you’ve got the backbone of your new email marketing strategy (depending on what you find!)