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Best Email Fundraising Practices

It almost sounds too good to be true, but some ministries are receiving as much as 35% of their annual fund revenue through email fundraising.  What are they doing that most people aren?t?  They?re following the steps that lead to success.  These are steps?some very simple and some most people would never think of?that determine the response you will receive to your email appeals.

Before you send the first email; before you even write the first word, you need to do some up‐front strategic thinking. What are your campaign needs? What goals do you want to accomplish? Who is your target audience? Who will be receiving this email, and what is most likely to move them to the action you want them to take?

Once you?ve answered these questions, you are ready to succeed?if you follow the steps that are proven to achieve results.  Success begins with speaking directly to the reader.  A form letter is bad enough, but a form email is the fastest way to get deleted.  Personalize not just the address field but the content.

Start with the headline.  Just as the teaser on a direct mail piece engages the reader?s attention and prepares them to hear and understand the message you want to communicate, the subject line of the email sets up the entire appeal.  Continue on with direct, short, powerful words that convey the emotion you feel.

Make sure you open the doors to the response you want to receive.  Include links and buttons to encourage response.  If there are fewer than 20 links in your email, you don?t have too many!  And be sure you clearly communicate to your donors what you want them to do and how their response will change the world.

Many people lose their response, not in the email but on the landing page.  When your donor clicks on a link from your email, they should immediately see what they need to do.  Minimize the navigation of your landing page and you will maximize your results.

Ignore the advice of the web "guru? who tells you to run CSS.  It?s great for web pages, but it doesn?t work for email because too many mail services will reject or remove it.  Your email will wind up looking great in previews but performing poorly in the real world.  Stick to old-fashioned HTML and you will be rewarded.

Graphic sizes and pixel widths are keys to making sure your email and landing pages load quickly, cleanly and that your donors can see them.  Whether you are using jpg, png or gif graphics, make sure that you have fully optimized them.  Time is money the saying goes, and it?s even truer in email fundraising than in most other settings.

Give every email you send out a test viewing in the real world.  Previews are nice, but they don?t always tell you everything.  Sign up for your own email at your computer in the office and at home using different email addresses.  Test your backend response as well.  Make a donation and find out what happens next.  The answer to that question may shock or delight you, but either way it?s an answer you need to know.

Pathmaker Marketing is a leading expert in Internet fundraising for non-profits.  Our clients are reaping the rewards of our experience, and you can too.  Call today for a free consultation, and to receive our white paper 23 Best Email Fundraising Practices.  We can make email work better to help you fund the realization of your vision.

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