The Perfect Call-to-Action Email

When it comes to putting together a crowdfunding campaign, often we’re so busy setting up the project page, putting together our creative materials, and sorting out the editorial calendar that we forget the one element that will most affect the success of our campaign: the email. 

Above and beyond your social media, website, and any traditional media work, email remains the keystone of any strong communications campaign because of its universal appeal (who doesn’t check their email nowadays?), the ease with which it carries branded multimedia content, and its ability to seem highly personalized.  
Experts and nonprofit practitioners alike agree that your email list is the #1 driver of traffic to your campaign page and, according to WeDidIt, can account for 56% or more of page visits. Moreover, the individuals on your email list already have a connection to your organization so are the most likely to make a donation!  
What are you waiting for? If you already have a clear idea of who your audience is and what you want to say (see Creating a Strong Communication Strategy if you haven’t), follow these simple tips to nail your email, and the rest of the campaign will (almost) take care of itself! 

1. Start with the title.

“Getting someone to open an email is both the marketer’s biggest challenge and greatest opportunity,” says Vivian Swertinski of Informz. “Success is riding on just a few elements: the friendly “From” name, “Subject,” and the pre-header text. That’s it.”
You can read Vivian’s full article here, but take it from her: after analyzing more than 5,000 subject line tests, data confirmed that audiences are moved and engaged by unexpected, pleasant surprises in their inboxes, so your perfect subject line should be:
  • Personal
  • Funny or playful
  • Thankful
All in all, we recommend that you spend about half the time you work on your email on crafting the subject line—it’s vital to get donors to open the email and be in the right state of mind to be receptive to what’s inside. 

2. Personalize!

Hopefully, your email list is so long that you’re using some kind of email service (common ones include Icontact, MailChimp, and Constant Contact, but there are many more to choose from.)  If so, always use the personalization feature so that potential donors are greeted by their name and not just a generic salutation.

3. Use a convincing request for support. 

The content and specific phrases you include in your email make a big difference in persuading (or dissuading) potential donors to give. In the run-up to #GivingTuesday, Jamie McDonald encouraged nonprofits to use a simple three-step process to craft their “ask” involving a belief statement, a "you" statement, and an opportunity statement. For example, when raising funds for a student food pantry this could appear as:

Belief statement: We believe that no student should have to choose between food and learning.

You Statement: You can help us stock the pantry so that no CCBC student has to make that choice and go hungry.

Opportunity statement: Are you with us?
You choose to explain your request, make sure that your call-to-action is clear and, of course, actionable. It should be an actual question, a request for a concrete action or a specific reference to the quality or quantity of the action. For example, asking, “Would you contribute $50 to children's cancer treatment programs today?” is much more effective than writing, “Please consider helping our hospital.”

4. Inspire confidence with professional design.

Branding—the use of clear and consistent visual cues to establish identity—helps inspire familiarity and trust, meaning more people will pay attention to the message and follow through on the call to action. Take the time to polish the design of your email, using your organization’s colors and brand characteristics, and if you’re taking part in one of HIPGive's contests or campaigns, look out for our special Toolkits with logos and banners to help boost your campaign credibility and inspire action.

5. Test it out to achieve maximum impact.

Not sure if you’ve got it just right? Put together a small group of potential donors, send them your test email and ask for their honest opinions about how the email makes them feel and how they might react.  There’s nothing like real-world feedback to help you make sure your email is fulfilling your donor's needs and this way, you have the opportunity to perfect your message and generate just the right emotion so that as many people as possible are moved to click “give now.” 

Have you tried other email tactics that have proved successful? Please share your wisdom with us and others in the comments below!
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