We sat down with Raconteur’s newest team member and Digital Strategy Associate, Madison Smith, and unpacked what you need to know about email fundraising in order for your campaign to reach its fundraising goals.
Raconteur Media conducted a poll of statewide Texas voters in May. That polling data shows 35% of these voters want to engage with campaigns via email. Knowing that email is a preferred method of voter contact, how does that shape email fundraising strategy?
“Email copy is the best of both worlds because it has the dynamic, timely functionality of digital advertising and the personalized, in-your-inbox effects of direct mail. The biggest advantage of email marketing is that because voters prefer it to other methods, your asks and calls to action can be more direct, which ultimately makes them more effective. In addition to being more direct, email fundraising can be more frequent than other methods, and it can result in a large and consistent number of small-dollar donations. Because email audiences have to make the conscious choice to open or delete an email, there is a much lower risk of voter-fatigue compared to other forms of voter contact. While this choice does pose a significant challenge to email fundraising, it can also be a huge advantage, because those who open the email are more likely to be an engaged, mobilized audience. Knowing this, your messaging should be tailored to a more politicized audience.”
How does email fundraising messaging differ from other digital copywriting?
“Similar to blog posts, emails can be more long-form than other digital copy. However they need to be more direct or you risk losing reader interest. Because of this, the copy needs to tell a compelling story that will resonate with your audience and ultimately turn into a conversion. Additionally, this copy can and should be more personalized and directly address the individual reader. If you can effectively make a call to action, email will quickly become a cornerstone of your campaign’s fundraising strategy.”
Despite email’s popularity, there are limitations to digital fundraising. What are the biggest obstacles to email fundraising, and what tactics can campaigns use to overcome these issues?
“Emails require that the reader make active choices to open, read, and click. And, as we’ve mentioned, email’s popularity means people have their inboxes flooded with content. All this combined, the biggest obstacles to email fundraising are open rates and click rates. Fortunately, there are a number of tactics campaigns can use to mitigate the effects of these obstacles. Once you have an active audience list, the first step is writing a strong subject line. Then, take advantage of the personalization capabilities in email, and include preview text to boost credibility and trust. Most importantly, focus on writing evocative, timely content that will generate clicks. Use your grassroots campaign’s polling and insight to determine messaging, and prioritize your conversion goals.”
We know email domains like Gmail and Yahoo have learned how to spam block emails – they’ve gotten so good at it that they often block emails that aren’t actually spam. What causes this? And how can campaigns ensure their emails are delivered?
“If your email is properly authenticated, spam blocks are mainly triggered by poor sending credibility. Sending credibility is determined by open rates, email content, and the actual audience you are sending to. The best way to prevent spam blocks is to invest in proper list-building and ensure your team is implementing email content best-practices. Unfortunately, if your audience is inactive, your email content is irrelevant, so ensuring that you have a strong, active audience is key to sender credibility. This requires proper data collection and list segmentation. Email is an affordable, fluid form of fundraising, but the initial list-building price tag can be steep. If your campaign can invest in a receptive audience, your content becomes much more valuable, and your fundraising potential exponentially increases.”
Digital fundraising is more dynamic than other forms of fundraising, so campaigns often use email to raise money off of real-time, current events. What advice would you give a campaign for knowing what issues will resonate positively enough to drive readers to donate?
“The biggest factor in determining what breaking content will trigger the right response for your audience is simply knowing your audience. Whether it’s through polling, analytics, proper list segmentation or keeping up to date with novel political behavior research, you need to understand your audience – who they are, what they want, and how you can most effectively demonstrate that your campaign is the solution to their problem(s).”