There’s nothing traditional about fundraising anymore. In an evolving media landscape, consumers are inundated with solicitations at every turn. A typical person is exposed to thousands of ads and sponsored messages every single day.
How should marketers, especially organizations with an advocacy message or political campaigns, stand out? It might sound counterintuitive, but email is still the most powerful fundraising tool at our disposal.
In response to the Trump presidency, grassroots donors are more engaged than ever before. In fact, ActBlue, the top fundraising processor for Democratic campaigns and causes, reported its largest first quarter of an off year in history: $112 million.
Warnings that email marketing is dead, or soon will die, couldn’t be further from the truth. At Mothership Strategies, we’ve helped special election candidates build national grassroots email programs in just a matter of weeks. And we’re seeing grassroots donors make their voices heard at unprecedented levels across the board for our clients.
I won’t deny email marketing has an emerging set of challenges: subscriber inboxes are flooded, competition is increasing, traditional metrics for engagement are declining, and email is more impersonal than ever. But these facts are in no way the death knell of email. Instead, they present unique opportunities and necessitate innovation. It is the cutting edge agencies, campaigns and organizations that will succeed in this environment.
For a medium that’s rooted in interpersonal communication, email has become very impersonal. This gives savvy marketers an incredible opportunity: tell a story with your sender, subject, and preview text.
To cut through the noise and increase engagement rates, we take advantage of all of the available real estate in a recipient’s inbox to convey our message. Engagement with your list starts with creating a sender-subject line pairing that’s compelling and draws in a subscriber and ends with compelling, topical calls to action. Engagements like these are tied directly to deliverability.
For instance, include elements like emojis in ways that you might commonly find on Facebook, Twitter or in text messages, but don’t often see in email. And adding on extensive personalization and customization in a subject line can further grab attention. Often, this will appear to be a personal appeal. Other times, it will appear as an urgent, official solicitation from your organization that subscribers are excited to read.
These practices are just a few of many foundational elements of a strong email fundraising program. In the current email landscape, every campaign and cause needs to build trust with its subscribers. Strive to make every email unique, engaging and informative.
Remember that paying attention to a thousand little things is what makes an email program effective. Ultimately, you should strive to deliver a better, more personal experience for your members to increase engagement — and your organization’s fundraising potential.
Jake Lipsett is a partner at Mothership Strategies.