Winning the Internet

ICYMI: 5 tips to Boost Your End of Year Email

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

calendar-660670_1920It may only be early December, but it feels like it’s already the end of the month!  As the year winds down and people’s inboxes fill up with end of year donation email, we’ve scanned and sifted some of the best advice for email writing from three excellent posts. In case you missed them, here’s our top five curated tips:

#1 – Share the love (and the stress!) of the editing process.

Sara Wolfson over at the M+R blog writes encouraging advice for email writers and digital organizers.  By bringing other team members along in the writing and editing process, you can invite valuable feedback from fresh eyes while you spruce up potentially stale copy.

#2 – Get back to the basics of storytelling.

Sara’s point #3 includes six great aspects of storytelling – sure to inspire and help break through any hint of writers block.  Whether it’s re-engaging the senses, pitting innocents against the villains of your cause, or activating nostalgia to help people open up to your email, this excellent list of storytelling elements will help you revamp your copy and catch the attention of your readers.

#3 – Launch Facebook ads before you send the email.

Jeanette Russell at weighs in with excellent advice on how to craft a cross-channel campaign to help amplify the effect of end of year email. Launching relevant Facebook ads before and after fundraising email has the potential for increasing attention from your supporters and members, as well as potentially increasing those very last end of year online donations.

#4 – Thank your donors on multiple platforms.

Leveraging your social media following on Facebook and Twitter can help create positive feedback that will encourage your readers to open your holiday email.  Jeanette also reminds us to be sure to double check that you’re following your donors on Twitter before you ask!  Nothing beats a personal, authentic interaction on social media, and following your donors on social media is part of that connection.

#5 – Show the impact of the donation you’re asking for.

Danielle Johnson-Vermenton over at NPEngage offers us a different kind of helpful list.  Danielle curates advice from ten online practitioners on what not to do with 10 ways to lose a donor in 1 email.  Point #8 mentioned by Tammy Radencic is particularly insightful, as she encourages us to “show the impact of the donation you’re asking for.”  Being able to show a direct link between a member or supporter’d donation and a specific benefit (like “$10 more could help us feed another family” or “another $25 will help us deliver veterinary services to an animal at our shelter”) can help motivate a donor to bump up their contribution, rather than motivate with a negative outcome.

Other useful cautionary tips include:

  • Make it easy to get to the donation page.  Minimize the number of clicks it will take for a reader to donate.
  • Details matter like making sure the data is not being set up wrong. For example, making sure email is addressed to a person’s first and not last name.
  • Don’t use fear or guilt to motivate donations particularly during a holiday season.

Danielle’s post can be a valuable asset as a check list of what not to do in your end of year appeals!

Bonus: Don’t forget the A/B testing! 

Even though December feels like it’s nearly over, there is still time to craft effective A/B tests that support your data-driven plan to close out the busy holiday season.  Competition for attention will be fierce and writing compelling subject headers (with a little bit of data collection) could mean the difference between an email being opened or ignored. Consider also using testing on additional platforms beyond your email program, like Facebook and other forms of social media.

From everyone at New Media Mentors, happy holidays and we’re looking forward to a very joyful and busy 2016!


Credit: Toby on the Porch by Julie Falk

About Tanya Tarr

Tanya is a Senior Mentor with New Media Mentors. Guided by 15 years of movement building, Tanya helps non-profits build infrastructure through integrating online technology with offline action.

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