This post was written in collaboration with Bryan Snyder, Senior Marketing Analyst for Blackbaud.

Are you wondering how you’re going to make it to January? It’s maddening, we know.

Year-end is fast approaching, but the challenges of turning your strategy into a reality may have only just begun. Additional emails will need to be written, designed, produced – and that’s not even half of it! Safe to say, there’s still plenty left to do.

However, based on the time-sensitive data we reviewed before Thanksgiving, it’s not too late to make your year-end communication plan EVEN MORE impactful. We know the last days of the year are the biggest fundraising days of the season, but how much does our procrastination impact email performance? To help answer that, we observed email performance trends for organizations sending fundraising email messages at the end of the calendar year.

A Review of Findings

The overall findings revealed that despite an increase in the volume of emails delivered during the last week of the year, subsequent donation performance had not been sacrificed. In fact, it was just the opposite as the additional emails have helped increase the total number of transactions without compromising open rates. Learn more

What This Means to You

At first glance, you may want to send more emails, but don’t be fooled by a Trojan Horse. The findings should provide a baseline of email activity to complement your organization’s year-end communication strategy, not a directive to overwhelm your constituents with email.

However, there is a needle in this haystack that can provide some very clear guidelines to enhance your year-end strategy. Whether you’re trying to keep your head above water or still working out your year-end strategy kinks, consider these five tips before deciding to send more emails –

 

  1. Be thoughtful. Consider the value of the email communication to your audience by asking yourself: How does the message benefit my audience? Is the timing relevant? Would I want to receive the email? Abuse of email can result in irreversible damage.
  2. Define benefits. The last days of the year are about making tax-deductible gifts. Create a separate tax-deductive email campaign AND include all of those who have already made a year-end gift. Tax deductions are a benefit to your donors, highlight the service you provide!
  3. Segment audiences. Review your core audiences to determine the right message and time. Consider a special year-end appeal to sustainers and existing donors to “get a jump on 2013”. And then apply step #1 and #2. (Remember: schedule your messages early!)
  4. Review data. A party is never complete without data, so make sure you have plenty of it established your key performance indicators (KPIs). What metrics move your campaign’s needle? How do you know if you’re successful? Define, measure, and repeat.
  5. Remain flexible. Don’t fall asleep at the helm just because your plan is complete! Keep your finger on the pulse of your campaign (see step #4) and be prepared to make decisions on the fly based on year-end progress and performance. Year-end is not the time to set and forget.

The Last Word

The year-end email performance data revealed that additional emails have helped increase the total number of transactions without compromising open rates. However, that’s not a blank check to send more email. The data encourages a very thoughtful and planned year-end campaign with messages supporting a common goal and theme.

The upward trend of year-end data is promising, but before sending more emails use these tips to ensure you’re year-end communication plan will be impactful. Stay tuned for next week’s post, “Increase your email revenue by 20% on December 31st (It’s really this easy)”.

* This blog post – and subsequent posts in series – refers to the Analytics Team report, End Of Year Email Performance Analysis. To view the full report, and learn more about how we can conduct a comprehensive review of your email performance, please contact Andrew Shoaff, Interactive Strategy Manager.

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