I’ll let you in on a solid gold tip. This could save you tons of time and make tons of cash: test last year’s fundraising winner again this year.
This is true for all channels.
If it’s an email, test sending the message to the test audience again as a reminder. You could try with or without a little topper. Or with a reply-style subject line (re:) vs. a new one. So many options. If that works, try sending a third time.
You just might have a winner on your hands again this year, for very little work.
This article covers some of the main arguments in favour of repetition pretty well, but here’s a quick summary:
- Most people didn’t even notice you sent anything (think of how many marketing messages you’re getting at this time of year)
- People aren’t paying attention to you UNLESS you repeat yourself. Repetition is one of the key drivers of success in for-profit marketing comms!
- If a handful of people are complaining, develop a plan just for them (and remember, complaints can be a good thing)
One last tip: remember to focus your efforts right now on what will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Got an email list that responds well? Active Facebook community? Focus there first.
Quick thing first: If you signed up for my email list in the past week, it may not have worked. Please try signing up again! Sorry about that.
The ACLU is one of my favourites right now and their year-end video made me feel. I felt angry, I felt hopeful, and I felt part of something bigger.
Their whole year-end donation message starts with ‘Thank you’. Shit that’s great. They get their audience, and I’m sure this is going to cap off a fantastic year of work for them that their donors enabled.
Check it all out here.
(Thanks to Anne who tipped me off, this is so cool and great way to cap off the week!)
Buttons are an excellent way to get people to click and take action.
If you’re not on your work computer right now, you’re almost certainly reading this on your phone.
Most of your online stuff is being looked at on mobile phones right now.
You need to make it easy for people to take action. So put in a massive button when you want someone to do something.
Your supporters, especially donors, are older than you think – “young” donors right now are aged between 50 and 70, and we’re getting a lot better at using bigger fonts. But then we go and use text links or radio buttons all over the place and our sites look super 90s.
Put big buttons in to help out. And test out where to put them in.
Like this (don’t click any of them though, they don’t go anywhere):
The TLDR* version of this: your website isn’t about you and what you find important, it’s about the donor. Design your website for your donor.
This kind of thing shouldn’t need to be repeated over and over, but here we are.
Click here to read “Why Don’t Nonprofit Sites Convert?” over on Medium.
*You should still read it though
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.
I talk a lot about testing, and for damn good reason. As a digital fundraiser, you should be testing everything, all the time.
If you’re not sure how to go about testing, I’ve created a little guide to help get you started – and realise where you might need extra help*.
So here you go: Fundraising is Awesome’s guide to running awesome experiments.
(I’ve put it on its own page because it’s pretty long, and it’s also easier to bookmark it)
Take me to the testing guide
BONUS BONUS BONUS: a downloadable testing checklist!
*My biggest tip – become best friends with your tech and data people.
Digital fundraising is exciting, partly because it’s changing all the time. It’s also exciting because a lot of the rules that used to work just don’t apply anymore.
You’re going to suggest some stuff that people in your org don’t like because it doesn’t fit with how things are done.
So here’s a line that will get you out of a jam: ‘Let’s test it.’
It’s pretty hard to turn that down – it’s a reasonable request.
Just remember: testing is unbelievably easy. If you’re right, that’s awesome – but even if you’re wrong, at least you know. Just don’t be a sore winner (or sore loser), and make sure you have a cut-off point for your experiment. More on that later…
I just got a pretty decent email from the Movember Foundation asking me to sign up again this year (to be fair to them, they sent it over a week ago – it was more that I only just read it).
It looks like a personal email – check out the format, the subject line, and the initial tone. It’s got his email signature with a phone number in it. In fact, I thought it was a personal email until I saw the ‘view online’ and ‘unsubscribe’ links at the bottom.
Personal is great, especially if you’re making a high-bar ask.
There are a couple of things I would’ve done differently:
- Had a reply-to address that looked like his actual email address (even if it wasn’t)
- Made the tone more casual – this still felt like a promo email once I got past the initial introduction line
- Put the ask in a lot earlier
- Re-sent (kicked) the email a few days later
I’ve tested an almost identical personal approach before and it performs really well, but it needs to be on something where you’re asking for something a little *more* than normal.
Try adding this to your next testing cycle.
By the way, I did Movember back in 2011 when I was living in Canada. Here’s the horrendous result:
Yeah, I know.