December 3, 2018 Amy Sewell

As you look ahead into the new year, it is important that you take a few minutes to review your process for engaging with supporters who have recently entrusted you with their email address. These supporters could be monetary donors, volunteers, or people who are interested in your mission. Whatever the reason, these folks are entrusting you with a direct line of communication to them and when used properly this can be an extremely profitable revenue stream for you.

For many organizations, when someone joins an email file they fall into a bucket of supporters who get their online communications—ALL their online communications. Their first message is whatever happens to be the next message sent. Unlike direct mail, in the digital world nothing sends a new supporter to the unsubscribe button faster than being greeted with an appeal.

Thankfully, most email management systems are making a proper “hello” easier by allowing you to setup a series of emails that automatically send to any new subscriber on your list. That way you can ensure that these new users are connecting more closely with your organization.

Timing Your Welcome Series

On digital channels, everything is expected to be instant. Otherwise it sends the message that your organization didn’t even notice them. And although the first email new donors receive from you should not be an e-appeal, you do need to get an “ask” in front of them within the first two weeks of joining your file.This brief honeymoon period sees higher conversion rates because you are acting while individuals are still the most interested in connecting further with your organization.

Essential components for a digital welcome series

New online donors should receive an email with their receipt immediately. (This doesn’t replace the “official receipt” which should still be sent in the mail.) After that, a successful digital welcome series typically contains 3-5 emails. An example of a welcome series has been provided below:

  • 24 HOURS:

    A welcome email from someone at your organization. This can be from the person in charge, or from someone more on the ground—but it should purely be a welcoming hello and start to familiarize them with a name that they’re likely to see on future communications.

  • 2-3 DAYS:

    An email that introduces them to the impact they are now a part of as a supporter of your organization. It should share some of the most critical information of your organization or statistics they should know.

  • 5-7 DAYS:

    A email newsletter or changed-life story—ideally with some of your proven content that has been meaningful or engaging to your supporters in the past.

  • 10 DAYS:

    An e-appeal that has been selected specifically for this welcome series. It should be something that is more evergreen, or always relevant for your organization and one of your best performing offers.

  • 14 DAYS:

    The supporter goes into your regular digital communication stream.

Personalize your content

Once you have a basic digital welcome series in place, it also helps to consider the different ways someone could have joined your organization’s email file. Did they just donate? Are they a first-time volunteer? Did they find an email signup form on your website and purely ask for news and information? The best performing welcome series will have a customized initial welcome email based on how they came onto your file. It will also have optimized content throughout the other emails in the series based on their particular interests.n

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