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The Nonprofit Blog

4 comments - Last on 10/26/2009

E-Communication for Nonprofits: Email Analytics

Last Thursday's Nonprofit Times posted an article about the drop in "open rates" for nonprofit emails.  Since we are preparing for the biggest holiday season to date for email appeal solicitations, this is a very timely article.  If you are into statistics, you will especially enjoy the article.  I question the size of the sampling, but based on my own personal habits, I concur with the statistics.  The more emails I get from an organization, the fewer I open.  It's as simple as that.  But that's just me. 

The emails from our favorite charitable organizations, schools and cultural groups are typically:  e-newsletters, calls to action for volunteers/advocates or solicitations.  Paper mail is becoming outmoded and stamps are way too expensive.  E-correspondence saves money.  However, the REAL value is analysis or analytics.  With old-fashioned mail, we had no idea what arrived at a valid address; what was opened; what was read and how carefully the prospect studied our materials.  The inexpensive ISPs such as Constant Contact and Vertical Response identify: incorrect addresses, open rates, bounce rates, click throughs and forwards. 

If you are using e-communications, budget the time to do the analysis.  It will inform your frequency and content; it will identify some very good prospects.  Good luck.

 

Add a Comment

I agree!! the more emails I get from an organization, the fewer I open. Too much information can turn out to be seen as irrelevant. Organizations should have a strategic emailing plan to avoid this from happening. Organizations should also take into consideration the aspect of analysis, as we can see it is extremely important!!!


While I certainly agree that more does not mean more effective, I am interested in the idea of eye-catching subject lines.  Though it should be something that grabs the reader's attention, one must consider the organization's culture and constituency to determine what is appropriate.  I wonder if such techniques and strategies vary by sector.  Which sectors would prefer something more conservative, for example?


Like Ameta mentioned I think eye-catching email subject lines is an interesting area to research. I get tons of emails from groups I really care about and from groups I just gave my contact info to at some point. But even with the over emailing that often happens...some subject lines get me to open and read and even act. Last month twice I opened, read and acted on emails that I got from groups that send me a ton of emails...most of which I delete without reading at all. But both times these specific emails worked on me. One got me to attend a meeting and one actually got me to renew my membership. The subject lines were the key.


I agree that doing the analytics is key -- and tracking open rates allows the emailer to test the effect of different subject lines on open rates, as well as the effect of content on click through rates. Because of the proliferation of emails it is especially important to analyze effectiveness, and to monitor frequency. Some friends have told me they think a particular charity emails too often -- but since they want the charity to do well they don't mind -- however, there will come a point when these emails don't get opened. I think a charity using email appeals should plan out a testing strategy with analytic decision points and constantly revise strategy using open rates and click throughs and donor amounts as guides.


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