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Behind the stats and metrics of email marketing for planned giving marketing

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

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On a listserve recently there was a discussion about what you can expect from email marketing in planned giving marketing.  I can tell you that, while we don’t have hundreds of clients, we averaged a 19% open rate last year with a click-thru rate average of 6% and opt-out average of 1.4%.

One person asked why they were getting such a high unsubscribe rate.  Basically that means that the information you are sending is not relevant.  You want that rate to go down over time, not up (if you are sending worthwhile information).

Nathan Stelter pitched in with some good info too but I have a problem with the absence of metrics for click-thru rates in his post.  The helpful part was that he said his firm has over 400 clients using their email services and they get open rates of between 14% and 16% and an opt-out rate of about 2.5% on average.  Obviously SmartGiftmaker’s open rates are higher and opt-out rates are better.  But, let’s make sure we focus on the right stuff.

Open rates are not really a good measure of the effectiveness of your email campaigns.  We don’t spend that much time analyzing them.  Rather, we recommend you look at the number of clicks and the number of “conversions” (getting something to actually happen such as a phone call, a report download, a video view, a sign-up, a share, a forward, or a gift disclosure).

Some marketers like to look at click-to-open rates.  A click-to-open rate can be calculated by dividing the click-thru rate by the open rate  (click-thru rate/open rate).  For our averages above we’d divide 6/19 to get .316.  David would get .48.

Clicks and conversions are more important to us because in the end- unless you’re employing solely a branding, education or awareness strategy-  you are probably trying to get something to happen with email marketing.  So I recommend you decide what that is.  Then create a campaign effort with that goal in mind.

One last thing… often absent from most email campaigns is the use of effective landing pages.  Again, if your goal is simply education, then you may not need this.  But your recipients are best served with dedicated, highly relevant marketing efforts that drive them to landing pages created especially for that campaign’s purpose.

For instance, if your organization has a new video that reinforces your message, you could drive folks to a page specially created with that video and multiple offers (conversion opportunities) for more information or engagement.  Using some neat tracking tools ON THE LANDING PAGES (not on the email message), you can really drill-down the level of interest each person who clicked has for that particular campaign.  The tracking and reporting you’d get from our SmartGiftmaker dashboard on those folks is very useful.

I hope all that makes sense.

 

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