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Webinar: How to Create a Data-Driven Communication Strategy


By Chelsea Alves

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

An effective email marketing strategy helps you stand out from your competitors and continually engage your readers. But how do you know your strategy works? The proof is in the data.

Classy recently hosted a Nonprofit Academy Webinar: How Email Marketing and Strategy Collide. Teaming up with Constant Contact, we delved into:

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

With so much insightful information into email marketing best practices, we broke key webinar takeaways into three blog posts. We previously covered how to segment emails and measure success, and now we’ll discuss how to create a data-driven communication strategy. For even more great strategies, watch the full webinar recording below.

Send Emails at the Right Intervals

Industry data reveals there’s a sweet spot for how often nonprofits should engage their supporters with email newsletters. This is a good baseline from which to run your own tests.

  •  25% of nonprofits send quarterly emails
  • 42% of nonprofits send monthly emails
  • 8% of nonprofits send bi-montly emails
  • 8% of nonprofits send weekly emails

Constant Contact found organizations that send quarterly emails tend to lose the attention of their subscribers. But sending an email newsletter every week—or even every other week—may overcrowd your subscribers’ inboxes and prompt them to opt out. While monthly mailings are the most popular frequency and Constant Contact’s preferred practice, they recommend finding the frequency that works best for you. Learn more about how to test the frequency that’s ideal for your organization in the webinar recording.

Create a Time-Based Campaign Email Series

Timing is everything when it comes to sending out email communication. In fact, one of our marketing associates was the target of a poorly designed email campaign. Fresh out of college, she received weekly emails from her alma mater requesting large donations. Not only were the emails persistent, they also targeted her at the wrong time. Had they waited a few years before reaching out to her, she would have been in a better position to give.

Map out a communication timeline for each of your email marketing campaigns. Determine when and why emails are being sent, and make sure each message has a clear purpose. You should also monitor your opt out rate for clues as to whether you are over or under communicating.

An example of a time-based email series that has proven successful for nonprofit organizations is as follows:

  • Hard Launch Announcement
  • Fundraise Campaign Feature—Shout out a top fundraiser in your email newsletter to encourage others to start fundraising
  • Progress Update
  • Congratulations On Hitting Goal
  • Final Campaign Push
  • Thank You/Impact Update

In this sequence of emails, donors are provided with relevant communication in each email correspondence. Each email has a clear purpose for why it’s being sent. Additionally, with six emails in the series over the span of several months, donors won’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of communication received.

Optimize Emails for Optimal Results

Email has the potential to deliver a strong ROI for your organization, though response rates that highly depend on the day of the week and time of day the email is sent. To find the ideal time to send an email out, you should test multiple different factors. First, begin with testing the impact of sending an email on different days of the week. Constant Contact recommends sending an email on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Through extensive research, they have found emails sent on Mondays have lower open rates as they will likely be competing with dozens of other emails from the weekend and morning. By Tuesday, people have had time to check their emails and clean their inbox.

Along with testing the day of the week an email is sent, you should also test the time of day. Constant Contact recommends sending emails between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. PST. For East Coasters, this is near the time they get off work. For the West Coast, this is the time of day people are taking a lunch break. Pure 360 recommends not sending emails between 10 p.m. – 9 a.m. PST—calling this period of time The Abyss: an ineffective time to send email newsletters because it’s like throwing them into a black hole.

Your audience will be the ones to tell you when is the best time and date to send an email. Perform A/B testing to determine which date and time works best to send emails for your organization. Keep track of your open and click through rate to support your findings.

One way to test your optimal days and times is to split your email marketing list in half. Send the same email to each half of the list but vary the day of the send. Try this with several different emails. If you find one email performs better than the other on a certain day of the week, track the data and watch for patterns to determine what works best. The same can be done with the time of day an email is sent. These types of tests can help you narrow down the right time to send your campaigns for maximum engagement from your subscribers.

Watch the Full Presentation

These are just a few of the tips that were shared in our email marketing webinar. For more details, check out the full webinar below, and stay tuned for an upcoming post that will touch on advanced email strategies and metrics.

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