By Becky Fitzpatrick, Digital Marketing Associate

One of the top goals of marketing and fundraising campaigns, other than to sell a product or raise funds, is to gain contact information – specifically, email addresses. Email is quickly becoming the most popular form of contact as younger generations change addresses often and telemarketing becomes less popular. But once you gain a potential donor or customer email, what’s the next step? Some nonprofits throw that prospect right into the regular communications stream. Others immediately begin asking for donations and inviting them to fundraising events. But these steps often lead to a swift ‘unsubscribe’ from that prospect.

Yes, you want a donation from that prospect and yes, it’s easy to add that address to your regular communications. But you’ll risk losing that prospective donor and supporter forever. That sounds dramatic, but once an email is unsubscribed from your mailing list, you are not allowed to re-mail them unless they specifically give you permission. So, it’s pretty important to get your early communication efforts correct the first time.

The length of a welcome series varies for each nonprofit, depending on your internal goals and the actions your subscribers take. If you find subscribers are only taking action after receiving multiple communications, then your welcome series could be 3-4 emails. But if subscribers tend to unsubscribe after the second communications piece, keep your series between 1-2 emails.

The content of a welcome series also varies. Generally, we suggest each email have a slightly different call-to-action while continuing toward the overall goal of integrating the new subscriber into your community and gaining their trust/confidence/support. We recommend the first email introduce the new subscriber to your organization with some of the following topics:

  • A heartfelt thank you for joining your community
  • The history or your organization, mission, and values that make you unique
  • Some success stories and recent news to engage the subscriber
  • A reminder why they are receiving the email (recently signed up an event, completed a survey, etc.)

Follow-up emails introduce other aspects of your organization, like the following:

  • Your specific services
  • A calendar of upcoming/local events
  • Social media icons and links to other websites and news articles about your organization
  • Exclusive perks for online members
  • Other ways to get involved online and in person

Decide when to fold these subscribers into your main e-communications strategy. Based on what the user’s actions were throughout the welcome series, you may be able to better categorize which list these subscribers belong on. For example, if a welcome email listed your various services, countries you work in, or products you sell, you can see which categories appealed to that prospect and add them to a segmented list based on those analytics. Or better yet, if a welcome email had subscription options, you know exactly which categories that prospect is interested in.

According to Emma, welcome emails typically have 4x the open rate and 5x the click through rate of other bulk mailings, making them over 80% more effective than e-newsletters. Emma also found that subscribers who receive a welcome email show more long-term engagement with that organization by 33%.

Looking to build your welcome email series and engage subscribers? Contact Faircom Digital for consultation on design, copy, strategy, and implementation.

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