Most of us are entering crunch time right now, and will be flat out emailing our supporters until the year-end.
You have no legitimate excuse to not test* how well your email fundraising appeal will perform before you send it to everyone on your list.
Here’s a simple process I tend to use when I’m testing out emails:
- Write two or three different emails
- Send all three at exactly the same time to a small part of my list – enough to get a statistically significant result
- Project which one will perform the best**
- Test the top one or two again to a bigger audience to make sure it wasn’t a fluke (and ditch the worst performing one)
- Send to the full universe
Here’s the thing that’s painful but WILL make you a better fundraiser:
Don’t send anything that doesn’t meet your minimum baseline. Go back to the drawing board and try again until you get it right.
Don’t send anything that isn’t inspiring people into making donations to you. In direct mail, you usually find that out too late – but there’s no excuse for having an under-performing email.
Here are some starting points of things you could be testing:
- Subject lines (and this should be every single time as a bare minimum – I’ve seen good subject lines getting 8 times as many donations as the worst performing subject line. And remember, you’re looking for the best action rate)
- Lede – is there something in the news that’s relevant to you and giving your appeal some urgency?
- Email layout (buttons!)
- Suggested donation amount
There’s a lot more you can experiment with, but these will give you the best bang for your buck.
You owe it to the people your organisation is set up to help to get this right.
*I wrote a big testing guide and posted it the other day – check it out here.
**I’ve got a post on its way about how to do this too.