When it comes to networking, an old adage rings true: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. But do you really know someone with just their name and their email address?
Building an email list and a network of loyal supporters is one of the most effective ways for nonprofits to advertise and achieve their goals. But an anonymous email address on a long list is much more of a “what” than a “who.” When you can attach that address to essential information — a hometown, age, social media accounts, etc. — “who you know” can suddenly take you much further.
This piece will look at the ways and value of building not only a longer email list, but also more complete identities for those on your list, and how to best use that information once you’re able to collect it.
Table of Contents
The Value of Email Marketing:
Balancing Retention and Acquisition
Donor and client acquisition is essential to growing your customer base. But retention has exponential effects at minimal investment. Harvard Business Review reports that acquiring one new customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. And in this case, a proverbial penny saved is much more than a penny earned: According to consulting giants Bain & Company, a mere 5 percent boost in retention rates increases profits by 25 to 95 percent.
This outsize effect has a simple cause — repeat customers make increasingly greater contributions over time.
Collecting emails is an excellent way to acquire new customers the very first time they land on your website. In turn, using these emails for updates and marketing is an incredibly effective way to retain supporters and re-engage them regularly. But don’t take our word for it, HubSpot reports that 95 percent of marketers find their email marketing is effective in achieving client retention and loyalty goals.
Guarantee You Reach the Right Audience
With return on investment as a key performance indicator in marketing, efficiency in outreach is a top priority. You can’t always control who lands on your website, but you can control who you reach out to directly. With a little information about the people in your address book, you can use your marketing funds with unmatched efficiency, tailoring your message and delivering it only to those with whom it will resonate.
Proactive Marketing and Messaging
Traditional search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the most powerful tools nonprofits can harness in acquiring new supporters. However, it, like anything, has its limitations. As it relies on users’ search queries, ads are not displayed unless someone searches something related to your organization. Email, however, complements your SEM with a more proactive approach, making it the perfect partner for Google and Microsoft ads.
Email marketing allows you to put what you want people to see directly on their screens. 91 percent of all US-based consumers use email daily. That means that every time you drop a timely message in someone’s inbox, nine out of ten recipients see it within 24 hours. When you compare this to the 20 percent of consumers that use X/Twitter weekly, the promise of using email to proactively push your message is clear.
For those concerned about “spamming” your audience, Berkshire Hathaway reports (via BusinessWire) that a whopping 77 percent of consumers rank email as their preferred source of marketing materials, compared to only 5 percent who prefer social media as a marketing channel.
More Effective Than Social Media Advertising
Don’t let the “new kids” on the digital marketing block convince you that email is outdated. Beyond the fact that 9 out of 10 consumers use email daily, business management titan McKinsey reports email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and X/Twitter combined in acquiring new customers.
And it’s not just the total number of customers — the average transaction spurred by email marketing is 17 percent greater than that by social media.
Re-engagement of Inactive Contacts
All other forms of digital marketing demand that a user be active elsewhere on the web to run into your content. Email is patient. It allows users’ web activity to ebb and flow naturally, but it guarantees that the moment someone reconnects, they see you in their inbox.
Even when users don’t open emails, regular contact keeps your name on their minds and provides the frequent “touches” necessary to generate donor leads. And as long as you continue to pop up in their inbox, it takes only one captivating email to break through a contact’s inactivity and inspire a repeat contribution.
All of the above applies to traditional email marketing, which operates on names and email addresses alone. However, with the right modern tools, you can make your email list exponentially more valuable by filling in details about each new contact you gain.
Types of Data You Can Collect With Email Marketing:
Quantity of data means little without quality. So what are the types of data that can be collected about your contacts? With NPM’s VisitorEmail tool, you can determine the following and more about the people on your email list:
- Geographic location
- Family status (marriage, children, etc.)
- Estimated net worth and income
- Web pages viewed and time spent on each
- Social media accounts
- Current employment and work history
- Referral source and keywords used to land on your site
- Homeownership status
Knowledge is power — in marketing as anywhere else. But what, specifically, does the above knowledge offer? Here’s how the ability to associate your email list with demographic data turns email marketing into an even more effective engagement engine.
The Value of Customer Data in Email Marketing:
Tailored Email Campaigns
The modus operandi for traditional email marketing is to send every single email to every single contact. This means you are sending donor appeals to those who may have accessed your website looking for nonprofit services.
It also means you are sending your biggest donors the same messaging you craft for the “little (but still important!) fish.” If someone has cut checks for thousands in the past, you might not want to push the message that “no donation is too small!” However, that may be the perfect message for someone who has accessed your donation page multiple times, but not yet completed a donation.
When you know which pages people have accessed, their general wealth data, and personal information, you can ensure that each email they receive is crafted to resonate with the donor profile they represent. You can appeal to their interests as evinced by their social media, connect your mission with their family status, use methods proven effective for their age and income, and target those within your community for local events or those nationwide for online campaigns.
Increased In-Person Engagement and Attendance
Many nonprofit organizations host in-person events that represent their greatest funding opportunities each year. From galas to auctions and walk-a-thons, sometimes it makes most sense to put your digital reach towards those within your local niche.
There’s simply no way to do this without knowing where each person on your email list is physically located. Complex, cost-effective data collection can bridge the gap between an email and street address, allowing you to more actively and effectively target those who would realistically attend local events.
Better, Cheaper Remarketing
Remarketing has emerged as one of the most valuable ways to serve ads online. There are many reasons for this, but number one is that — even among those who go on to make a purchase or donation — 97 percent of first-time visitors leave a website without completing a purchase. This connects to the previously mentioned idea of marketing “touches,” and that it typically takes 7 interactions to spur a conversion.
This means that the user who has visited your site 6 times, but not yet donated, is the highest-potential recipient of your next promotion. Remarketing, or “retargeting,” allows you to focus future ads on people who have already seen your site. But with such high potential comes even higher prices. The average retargeted ad costs up to 50 percent more per click than a standard display ad.
The cost of a retargeting email, however, is a flat zero dollars once you’ve collected an email address. You have complete control over who you reach out to, how long you take to deliver your six to eight sales touches, and you pay nothing when users click a link, unlike with ads.
Further, while other retargeting methods use social media and in-network websites to display ads, using email means you are respecting consumers’ preferred way to receive marketing messages.
Not only is this cheaper, but it is more personal, effective, and customizable. Your retargeted emails can be informed by which pages a user accessed, what they searched to find your website, or even their other interests as revealed by social media accounts connected to their email.
Send Actionable Follow-Ups Based on User Behavior
For most nonprofits, their pool of donors and the population they serve have no overlap. An organization supporting affordable housing or food security, for example, may have opposite audiences accessing their donation page versus their program resources. So how do you make sure the right person gets the right message when that same message is the exact wrong one for the other half of your visitors?
By knowing exactly which pages a user accessed, you can determine what they are most interested in on your website. Further, by tracking how long they spent on each page, you can establish even deeper insight into their purpose in accessing your site.
With an email collection platform capable of tracking such information, you can send an FAQ or instructions on how to receive aid for those who access relevant pages, while sending funding appeals or information on how donations are used to those who spent time on donation pages.
These emails will be more effective for calling recipients to complete actions that they’ve already shown interest in, while you’ll also avoid asking those in need to donate when doing so isn’t feasible.
The Value of Data for Operations
The information collected about your email contacts offers value far beyond email marketing. It can inform every element of your organization’s operation and improvement.
Enhanced Data-Driven Decision-Making
High-quality email address collection can harvest data on up to 35 percent of all US-based visitors to your website. By all statistical standards, this is an enormous sample size (or “n” value) for analysis and experimentation. The ability to visualize demographic data for a representative sample of your audience can improve nearly every decision you make.
Is your organization looking to expand? Determine the best location for a new branch by seeing where you already have brand awareness and engagement.
Are you wondering how much to request as a default donation? Use visitors’ net worth, homeownership, and employment information to create an average donor profile and understand their mean giving potential.
Is your website appealing to your actual target audience? Know so immediately with complete demographics. If there are gaps to address, determine what is already working with your priority populations via their current traffic patterns, and build out with a clear blueprint.
Ultimately, a concrete, data-based understanding of the present is essential to any undertakings for the future.
Find Corporate Partnerships
Once you know your audience — their locations, interests, workplaces, how they accessed your website, and so much more — you can identify other businesses and organizations serving the same population. With data to back you up, you can propose mutually beneficial partnerships that allow both you and your partners to meet your audience where they already are.
If you find a pattern of folks from a specific employer accessing your website, that company may be a perfect candidate for a gift-matching program, a company-wide giving campaign, or any other form of sponsorship.
It is well-known that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an increasingly important part of business operations — not only because it is the ethical thing to do, but because it makes a business more attractive to investors, consumers, and employees.
There are thousands of businesses out there trying to boost and publicize their CSR. All they need is the right partner. With the data collected in your email marketing, you can prove unequivocally that is you.
Design Audience-Informed Programming
Is it a gala? A Facebook fundraising campaign? A theater night? A golf tournament? With so many options for fundraising events, the statistics are against you if you are simply guessing at which type of event will be most exciting for your donor base.
Even if you have a recurring event that has been successful in the past, there is no way to know what might be even more impactful without insight into your audience’s interests. From users’ “likes” on social media to their fields of employment, you can use data collected in your email list to plan events around the things your audience empirically enjoys.
“Click” With Your Audience Using Email Data
Email marketing remains a formidable force in the realm of digital marketing — arguably the most formidable force in generating sales and donations specifically. However, its effectiveness is not just in the reach of email but in the wealth of demographic data it can offer nonprofits and businesses alike.
By knowing your audience beyond just their email address, you can tailor your messaging, engage more strategically, and achieve better results with your campaigns and operations as a whole. The data-driven insights drawn from NPM’s enhanced email lists enable more personalized approaches, ensuring that donors and those served feel recognized and valued.
More than just a method of communication, email marketing, when paired with detailed demographic data, becomes a tool for informed decision-making, enhanced fundraising efforts, and strategic growth. Its value extends incalculably past marketing alone, all at a fraction of the price of traditional promotion efforts.
As the digital landscape evolves, understanding and leveraging this intricate connection between email and audience data is pivotal for organizations to thrive and make impactful connections. Discover how NPM can help you today!