How to increase supporter engagement using email automation

For many charities, the task of keeping supporters engaged throughout their fundraising journey is a difficult one – not least because of the effort and resources required to maintain meaningful communications with your legions of fundraisers. To meet the challenge, some organisations are now turning to email automation as an effective and time-efficient motivational and communication tool.  Read on to find out why email automation is the secret weapon that can help you combat fundraiser apathy and motivate them to become more successful fundraisers.

The benefits of email automation 

Unlike traditional email direct marketing, in which a generic email is distributed on mass to your email database, email automation allows you to send tailored messages based on the recipient’s behaviours and interactions, as well as the stage they are at in their journey. Because you’re targeting your customer with the right message at the right moment and via a more personalised approach, the response and engagement rate is typically much higher. Everydayhero’s product manager Jason Harwood explains the potential benefits for charities: “In our conversations with charities, we repeatedly hear reports of fundraiser apathy and poor engagement over long periods. People begin fundraising with a flurry, but quickly lose interest, or register for an event and have a fundraising page created, then fail to activate the page or raise a single dollar.  Feedback has also revealed that supporters often feel alone and don’t know whether their effort is making a difference – all of which can have a negative impact on engagement levels. “Email automation seeks to solve these issues by providing poignant emails to fundraisers at key moments in time, based on a series of crucial triggers and touchpoints such as initial signup or achieving key fundraising milestones.” For charities, a good email automation system should cater for a wide variety of triggers. Harwood recommends developing specific streams dedicated to the following:

Coaching 

“Aim to provide helpful fundraising tips to recipients based on actions they have and have not completed since activating their fundraising page. This stream can also cover off motivational messaging to help them keep up the training as they prepare for the event or challenge.”

Celebrating milestones

“Offer positive reinforcement, motivation and support as well as a sense of the collective impact your supporters are making to your cause by including trigger-based milestone recognition emails. For example, when a fundraiser raises over 25% of their fundraising goal, celebrate this moment with them and provide some suggestions on how they might get to their next milestone.”

Page activation

“Ensure that people who haven’t activated their fundraising page are reminded of what they need to do and why their support matters to you.”

Logistics 

“From a practical perspective, email automation provides a platform to discuss logistics in the lead up to a physical event.”

Event feedback

“Keep supporters informed of how their individual and community contributions are impacting your cause and provide guidance on how to share this with their own personal networks.” Harwood adds: “Through the course of developing our own Everydayhero email automation program for members, we’ve seen engagement levels increase significantly in fundraisers who receive these emails as they respond to our innovative and positive calls to action.”

What’s involved in setting up an email automation program

Email automation is both a time and resource intensive exercise, which has created demand for software products that promise to alleviate these issues. Unfortunately, these solutions are often very expensive with costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, making it hard for charities to see any valuable return on investment. For this reason, you may find it easier and more cost-effective to use one of Everydayhero’s new email automation packages – we identify the triggers for you, then provide everything you need to communicate your messages and track conversions from consultation, copywriting and template design through to execution, optimisation and reporting.

Six  tips to improve your event email communications

  1. Tailor your message. Talk to the individual instead of communicating on mass.

  2. Show recognitionRemember it’s not just about fundraising – individuals want to be acknowledged for their efforts so advocacy and participation is important too.
  3. OptimiseExperiment with send times, subject lines, images content and more to pinpoint what resonates most with your supporters.
  4. Keep it simple. Avoid loading your emails up with too much content. Instead, focus on a single action for optimum results.
  5. Inspire. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling – it can often be the thing that convinces someone to become a supporter.
  6. Close the loop! It’s important that a supporter feels valued and knows what their participation has achieved, so don’t forget to say thank you.