Spring has sprung at my house. The grey branches of the trees that ring my yard are quickly being covered with green leaves, the daffodils are blooming and yes, weeds are sprouting.
Recently, Blackbaud’s Customer Success and Professional Services team led two webinars to help organizations learn how to grow their supporter lists and tend their supporter “gardens” by keeping lists engaged, bringing wilting supporters back to life and cleaning out the weeds to produce the best “harvest” ever!
Innovative Techniques to Grow Your Supporters
When we plant a garden, we generally have an objective – whether it is to grow food or decorate our backyards with beautiful colors. It’s the same with growing your list, we don’t want to grow simply for growth’s sake. Typically, organizations seek to grow in order to expand their message, execute programs, and increase their fundraising base.
But one harsh reality exists for the need to grow. Each year, organizations lose 15%-30% of their supporter lists each year due to churn (unsubscribes and hard bounces). Without growth, over a few years, the harsh reality of churn will mean your organization’s reach will substantially shrink.
The good news is that organizations are bringing in more contacts than they are churning so we see positive growth. In Blackbaud’s 2018 Luminate Benchmark’s report, organizations grew an average of 7.1%. You can use the overview dashboard in Luminate Beta to see how you are stacking up!
Techniques to Grow your Supporters
There are a variety of ways to bring supporters into your organization. Just like in a garden, having variety of “crops” helps create a strong harvest.
- Email Signup Forms: Your website should have bold and easy to fill out sign up forms. Consider using modal or “pop-up” forms to grab your readers attention. Be sure to have a clear call to action and let the reader know what’s in it for them. Finally consider using double opt-ins, CAPTCHAs or real time validation tools to help keep the weeds at bay.
- Surveys: People love to share their opinions and surveys are a great way to hear from people concerned about your issues.
- “Gated” content: Ask your viewers to submit their email address in exchange for your best content.
- Social Media: Use your social posts to direct your readers back to your website & optimized landing pages for email acquisition. Identify your social ambassadors to provide easily sharable content for them to promote.
- Ads: Facebook Ads and Google AdWords are the most common and most easily customizable for targeting the audiences most closely connected with your cause.
Best Practices for Engaging and Maintaining Your Supporters
Just as our physical climate is changing, the email climate is changing—email engagement, not volume is key for email performance and growth. With this industry shift, it’s now more important than ever to nurture your supporters, take action when they begin to wilt, and consistently prune your garden.
Strategies to Keep Your Supporters Active
- Welcome Series: Conventional wisdom says you only have one chance to make a first impression. Use a welcome series to say hi & set expectations.
- Different Types of Content: Some people on your email list will love newsletters, some will love long-form, others will respond to highly visual messages. Mix your content up to keep these different persons engaged.
- Different Names of Senders: Just as some plants love full sun and others prefer shade, men and women respond differently to different genders and names your emails are sent from.
- Send Relevant Content: Listen to what your supporters are talking about and be sure to engage them on those topics. By closely monitoring your social accounts or employing a social media listening and engagement solution, you can make sure you are sending content your supporters care about.
Re-engage Your Wilting Supporters
Sometimes, no matter what you do, your supporters disengage. Just like when your plants start to wilt, giving them some extra attention can help perk them back up.
Use a re-engagement series to reconnect with interested constituents, weed out stale email addresses, and improve your email deliverability to help your emails reach more of your best supporters.
Composting: When to Say Good Bye
Now, here’s the hard part. Once your re-engagement campaign is done, those that haven’t responded should be suppressed from all future messages. Ouch! I know. It hurts!
But, believe me, once you take this important step in your housefile health, you’ll (probably immediately) see an improvement in your email performance.