One Email Tactic Nonprofits Need to Steal From Brand Marketers

Simply getting emails out the door can be a challenge for nonprofits. Crafting relevant, interesting email on a regular basis? A nice idea, but near impossible for some nonprofits.

Actually, it’s a common challenge for all email marketers. Sending the right message to the right constituent at the right time can be almost impossible to organize manually.

But, what if it didn’t have to be that way?

The most effective way to improve email relevancy

In their gigantic 2011 email benchmark report, Marketing Sherpa indicated the most effective way to improve email message relevancy was to automatically send email based on triggers.

What’s a triggered email campaign? It’s a series of emails automatically sent in response to a certain action.

Brand marketers use triggered email campaigns to welcome new email subscribers, deliver birthday offers and re-engage those who abandoned shopping carts.

And for brands, they work.

10x higher transaction rates and revenue

According to an Experian Marketing Services report, welcome emails have 10x higher transaction rates and revenue than bulk emails. They also have 5x more opens and 4x more clicks.

So does this mean nonprofits will see 10x more donations from triggered welcome emails? Maybe not.

But these stats show how receptive people are to email after they’ve take an action.

For nonprofits, that may mean more event registrants who then volunteer. Or new donors who then become sustainer donors. Or members who then like/follow you on social media.

Ideas for nonprofit triggered emails

So what would triggered email campaigns look like for nonprofits? Here are 10 examples:

  1. New donor welcome series – Imagine the retention rate if new donors were properly welcomed and engaged shortly after their gift.
  2. New subscriber welcome series – Move email subscribers along the ladder of engagement a little quicker.
  3. New volunteer signup welcome series – Set expectations and tips for getting the most out of a volunteer experience.
  4. Event registrant welcome series – Provide insider tips for enjoying your event and preview things like auction items.
  5. Membership welcome series – Deliver testimonials and tips on how to get more out of a membership.
  6. Expiring membership series – Alert constituents their membership is about to expire and provide a special offer to renew.
  7. Community signup welcome series – Introduce community features at different intervals.
  8. New sustainer donor welcome series – Give these important donors the VIP treatment with special invitations, like touring your facilities.
  9. Sustainer donor credit card expiring – Alert sustainers their credit card is about to expire.
  10. eStore purchase -Send follow-up emails on other popular products and how purchases make a difference.

As you can see, triggered emails allow nonprofits to not only strike while the iron is hot, but also deliver extremely targeted, timely, relevant messages. They also help cross-promote other channels and engagement opportunities.

And best of all, they’re automated! As long as your email tool integrates with your CRM the emails will go out on their own.

The work is done upfront. Mostly you decide what content to deliver for each action, coordinate them with other emails and review metrics periodically.

But once setup, triggered emails can be an invaluable tool to engage, cultivate and convert your constituents.