Nonprofits: The Case for Integrating Email & Social

We love email. If you’re like most of the nonprofit organizations that we work with, your email list has been an important source of community, action and donations. It’s part of the heart and soul of your organization. In numbers: it’s still has the best ROI of any digital communications tool – almost a $40 return per $1 spent in 2012.

But decreasing response rates threaten that connection and efficacy. According to the 2013 eBenchmark Report,  2012 saw a 21% decrease in response rate on fundraisers, 8% on advocacy emails. List churn is another 20% per year on average.


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Source: 2012 Benchmark Report

That means if you’re growing by 20% per year – and that’s a lot – then you’re not even staying in place. A lot of this just boils down to common “email overload” – people have too much in their inbox. They’d rather interact on social media where they control the pace, it’s more interactive, they can talk about what they’re interested in, rather than have content “pushed” to them.

So what’s the solution? We believe that improving the response and reach of your email list begins by revealing its social side. Why? Because by integrating social data with your existing email list, you can (amongst other things):

Figure out your social multiplier – and reach more eyeballs

How far does your list actually extend? You might have a list of a couple of thousand, but you can be sure that your members are apeople beyond your network. Attentive.ly can help you calculate that reach with social matching. We’ve found that, when you add up a list’s network reach, our customers get an average social multiplier of 177.


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Source: Attentive.ly

What can you do with that multiplier? You use it! With Attentive.ly, you know which of your users is interested in you and your message. You also know how far their reach extends. If your highly social list members (say, your influencers with Klout scores of over 50) push your message to their lists, a ripple effect occurs that sends your message out across a far wider network.

Increase fundraising

If you’re a non-profit organization, getting social in your emails has one really significant impact: it combines multiple channels of communication to get you better fundraising. Mashable looked at how non-profits used social media in 2012 and gathered some staggering numbers, including this: incorporating social media can dramatically benefit a fundraiser, with the addition of Twitter Generating almost ten times more money raised (Mashable).


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Source: Mashable (excerpted)

Maximize your message’s lifespan

In an article on the longevity of Tweets, Moz points out a harrowing fact: the half life of a tweet is 18 minutes. More than half of any action a single post sees happens in that short time, and then it gets swept away by new content.


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Source: Moz

That’s a frighteningly short time for any material to be on the air. The way to maximize your message’s lifespan is to have it ripple outwards. Your post should only be the beginning: your users are your best allies in amplifying what you have to say. When you craft a Tweet of Facebook post, search for the people on your list who are talking about that topic and reach out to them — ask them to RT or share it with their networks. If 50 people share it, that’s 50x the lifespan for your post.

Preserve your list quality

Laura Packard of PowerThru Consulting points out that:

Over the last year Gmail and Hotmail have changed the way they track spam emails, and in particular the sub-set of ‘spam-like’ emails referred to as ‘bulk mail’.

Gmail’s new tabbed inbox is an example of email service providers taking an aggressive stance towards bulk and spam-like emails, which makes email marketing that much harder. How do you prevent yourself from being tagged as spam or shunted straight into a Promotions folder?

Well, you get high email open rates. And one of the best ways to do it is by targeting segments of your list that you – through good listening habits! – can confidently expect high levels of engagement from. By getting social with your list, you know ahead of time which members are going to want to be part of your campaign, and by getting good responses from these smaller segments, you improve the overall health of your larger network in the long run.

Improve response rates

In sum, getting social with your email gets you results and better response. At Attentive.ly, we’ve helped clients like Greenpeace Greece get a 70% increase in their open rate and up to 6 times their normal click rate. 

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