Webinar: Advanced Email Strategies For Nonprofits

A basic email marketing strategy will put you in the game with your competitors. Implementing advanced email strategies will set you apart. In order to formulate an advanced strategy, you have to understand advanced email metrics.

Classy recently teamed up with Constant Contact to host the Nonprofit Academy Webinar: How Email Marketing and Strategy Collide. We covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • How to segment emails and measure success
  • How to create a data-driven communication strategy
  • Advanced email metrics and strategies

With an abundance of useful information about email marketing best practices, we broke key webinar takeaways into three blog posts. We previously covered how to segment emails and measure success, and how to create a data-driven communication strategy. Now we’ll discuss advanced email metrics strategies, including the importance of A/B testing and how to effectively use it for maximum conversion rates.

A/B testing is the most used testing method for improving conversion rates, according to Steelhouse. A/B testing compares two variants, in this case different parts of an email, to see which performs better. When crafting an email marketing newsletter, all aspects of your email from your subject line to your calls to action should be A/B tested.

Subject Line

Start with your subject line, the most important part of your entire email. This is the first thing people see—the make or break moment where they decide if they will delete the email or open it. Test multiple subject lines to see which performs best. After all, 33 percent of email recipients open email based on subject line alone according to Convince & Convert. Consider the following when deciding what subject lines to test:

  • Do short or long subject lines work best for my readers?
  • Should I include a number in the subject line to improve my open rate?
  • Does subject line personalization make this email more appealing?
  • Should I phrase the subject line as a question rather than a statement?

Calls to Action

Hubspot has found that personalized CTAs convert 42 percent better than untargeted CTAs. Calls to action (CTA) should also be A/B tested. When writing a call to action, you should have a very clear understanding of what you want your readers to do. Constant Contact recommends writing a CTA very closely tied to the desired action. For example, an organization that is trying to collect used books for a new school could say, “Donate Books” on their CTA rather than simply writing, “Donate.”


Email design can be influential in attracting and converting readers. Constant Contact recommends the following features for higher engagement:

  • Instantly-recognizable header image
  • Easy-to-read font
  • Professional and inviting colors
  • Straight-to-the-point information
  • Images that reflect your brand
  • Featured contact information
  • Company mission and social media profiles in a consistent footer area

And of course, each of these design elements should be A/B tested to see what resonates with your readers the most.


In order to form an advanced email marketing strategy, your A/B testing must be analyzed to determine what works best before implementing any changes. To analyze your A/B testing efforts, you need to monitor both your bounce and opt out rates.

Bounce Rate

In email marketing, bounce rate refers to the percentage of email addresses in your subscriber list that didn’t receive your message because it was returned by the recipient email server. Messages may be bounced in two different ways—a hard bounce and soft bounce. A hard bounce is an email bounced back to the sender undelivered without having been accepted by the recipient’s email server. A soft bounce is an email bounced back to the sender undelivered after it has already been accepted by the recipient’s email server. It is important to keep a close watch on how both types of bounces in each email campaign you send. A high bounce rate indicates there may be problems with the way your list was grown, or how it’s being managed. Our webinar below further covers how to manage or grow your list effectively to lower your bounce rate.

Opt Out Rate

An opt out rate is determined by the number of people who unsubscribe from your mailing list. Your opt out rate should be closely monitored to determine the content your readers are engaging with most and what is prompting people to opt out of your list. Constant Contact shared that generally, if you receive less than a 2 percent opt-out rate, you are within industry norms. Sending to a new list is an exception, as they naturally tend to generate higher opt-out rates than previously emailed lists.

To reduce your bounce and opt out rates focus on cleaning your email list. If your email list is over a year and a half old, email addresses could have changed or subscribers may have lost interest in your brand. Your email list should be reviewed often to ensure it is not getting stale. One way to keep your list fresh is to ask your contacts to update their information at least every six months. In addition to keeping your list fresh, Constant Contact recommends segmenting your list—delivering only the most relevant, customized content to your subscribers. The more specific your segments are, the better able you are to deliver quality content that speaks directly to their interests, making your brand an email in their inbox they don’t want to get rid of.


Ask yourself questions as you optimize your emails to see how they’re performing with certain set audiences. Some questions your organization should ask as you analyze your A/B testing are:

  • How is this appeal performing with my audience?
  • What CTA better drives a person to take action?
  • What is a set audience’s response to a segmented email series?
  • Does asking a question in my subject line increase open rates?
  • How can I increase my baseline?

If your email marketing strategy isn’t working as well as it should be, you will likely see a dip in your open and click through rates and an increase in your bounce and opt out rates. Use these metrics as a starting point to determine where you can improve.

But wait… there’s more. We delve even further into how to use A/B testing to increase conversions, how to analyze your A/B testing results to improve bounce and opt out rates, how to increase your baseline, among other advanced strategies our email marketing webinar. Check out the entire presentation below for more valuable insights and tips from an industry expert.

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