[Year-End Fundraising] Raise More Money with List Segmentation

4432637412_3967b4a607Want your year-end emails to perform better?

Be relevant. Segment your communications.

One recent study showed that emailers boosted their email campaign performance by 10% – 15% using segmentation.

Blast emails are not only costing you campaign performance. In today’s cluttered market, they are probably annoying your supporters. Send people content they care about—and only content they care about. They will love you for it.

The trick to segmenting is “how.” Segmenting is unique to each organization and it builds upon itself, e.g. the more you segment, the more you learn, the better at segmenting your list you become.

How Do I Segment?

While segmentation is very unique to your list, we’re sharing some universal nonprofit best practices to help you find a place to start segmenting or to validate your current segmenting, or inspire you to look at segmenting in a different way.

Strategy: Develop constituent profiles

Reap the benefits of developing this data for your entire communications plan. Here’s how:

  • Conduct an annual online survey to give your supporters a chance to self-identify into interest categories. Hint: do this in early December or January as an engagement device “Help us define our priorities for this coming year”
  • Append a single question to your email sign up form: How did you hear about us?
  • Append a single question to your donation autoresponder (or annual survey):  What inspired you to give us your first gift? This question alone is gold mine for understanding how to acquire new donors.
  • Track your email messages that individual supporters/subscribers respond to together with the activities they participate in to find out what triggers their interest most — then put them in that interest category

Tactics: Ways to segment

There are literally hundreds of ways to “slice and dice” your list, but the following ideas are the top producers for us and a safe bet to start:

#1 By Interest. A PBS donor might be more interested in children’s programming for their children than a household with no children, yet addicted to Downton Abbey. When you know an individual supporter’s interest you can segment your email communication by even a small change of opening their email with their interest category, or using their interest in the subject line. Even with these small changes, you will increase your campaign performance. By far, we find segmenting by “interest” boosts your campaign results the most.

#2 New Subscriber. We’ve found that you need to convert a new subscriber to donor, or engage them otherwise, within a 30 day window of subscribing or the lead goes pretty cold. This is why it’s so important to use a Welcome Series with new subscribers.

#3 Small Donor. We’ve also found the 30 – 90 day-window after a donor makes a small gift to be a great conversion window to monthly giving. Send a monthly giving appeal or better yet, a series to convert a small donor into a monthly donor.

#4 Location. Some studies show that personalizing your email communication by location performs higher than personalizing by name.

#5 Last donation/web activity. Online behavior is the truest indicator of your supporter’s interests and profile. Even if you don’t have sophisticated CRM software to track online behavior at the individual level, how the majority of your supporters respond to certain email content and traffic to specific content web pages can serve as a good indicator. Single solution email providers such as MailChimp and Constant Contact offer you segmentation options based on subscriber activity.

#6 Demographic. Gender, age, and occupation or industry may play a role in your segmentation — depending on your issue or topic. We find, though, that the segmentation criteria listed above makes you more relevant to your supporters and boosts your email campaign performance more than demographic criteria.

Segmentation is an important topic for your entire organization and not easily covered in a single blog post. The right segmenting is key to improving your online campaigns and gives insight to your acquisition campaigns. I encourage you to dig deeper into your list segmenting options and do some testing in 2014 to improve your overall communications. Your supporters will love you for this one.

[Year-End Fundraising] Series

We’re running a series of strategies and tips you can put to use immediately to have your best online year-end fundraising campaign ever. You can see all the posts here:

This series will wrap up in the next week with:
  • Using social media to boost your year-end revenue
  • Split A/B testing – what’s important to test and how to test it

Photo Credit: Beta-J via Compfight cc