Why do you use social media?
If your honest answer is “because everyone else does,” you’re on the wrong track.
I think you know that.
But, seriously, why do you use social media?
If your answer is “to create greater awareness,” you’re only half right.
Greater awareness for what reason?
Ay, there’s the rub. Because the fact that people know you exist does you very little good. Ultimately, you want to raise money to support your cause. Right?
So how do you get from social media to donations?
The answer is… EMAIL!
What’s great about email is that you own your list.
Twitter doesn’t own it. Facebook doesn’t own it. Pinterest and Instagram don’t own it. You do. So you have a lot more control over whether folks will see the content you’ve crafted so painstakingly. For example, Facebook shows your message to less than 10% of your followers. Folks see your tweets if they happen to be on their Twitter feed when you send them; otherwise, your messages remain unseen. Wasted.
The number one reason to use social media is to drive folks back to your website and/or blog.
Once they’re there, two things can happen: (1) they can find out lots more about you, and (2) they can give you their email address.
If you’ve been struggling to convert social media followers into supporters and donors, it may be because you’re ignoring the “connector” that gets folks from Point A to Point B. Great content is a good place to begin, but it’s not enough.
You need an online social fundraising strategy that includes email.
Digital marketers rank email as their most effective marketing tactic, and say it has the highest ROI of any digital channel. And 72% of U.S. adults prefer communication with companies to happen through email. Email is direct, personal and measurable. So if you’ve been in any way thinking that it’s dead, think again. It’s time to prioritize your email strategy.
So your goal should be to drive folks to your site and capture their email addresses. Once you have this contact information, you can communicate directly with these supporters – through their preferred channel — whenever you choose to.
How do you get better connected with your supporters?
7 Ways to Build Your Nonprofit Email Marketing/Fundraising Strategy
1. Put Your Email Opt-in Front and Center on Your Website
Err on the side of noticeable, not tasteful. I know you think it’s aesthetically pleasing to have it blend in with the colors of your design palette, but that’s not your goal. Quite the contrary, in fact. Too often nonprofits hide their email sign-up by burying it at the bottom of the home page, not including it on other pages and using non-noticeable colors and shapes. You want this box to stand out!
You don’t have to put it at the center, but it’s generally a good idea to put it at the top. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers likes putting an opt-in form between your site’s header and the main content below it. He also recommends using one at the top of your sidebar. For more of his suggestions, see 7 High-Converting Places to Add Email Sign-Up Forms to Build Your List.
EXAMPLE: Here’s a featured box below the headline.
2. Put Email Opt-ins on Your Social Media Pages
Mail Chimp enables you to add an email subscription tab/form to your Facebook business page. You can also add an email “Call to Action” button to your Facebook business page.
Twitter uses “cards” you can attach to your tweet the way you’d attach a file to an email.There’s a lead generation card you create in Twitter ads, but you can attach them to any tweet and don’t need to advertise to use them. It lets Twitter users opt in to your list in just one click, without even having to leave Twitter. And they don’t even have to enter in any information; Twitter automatically submits the name and email associated with that Twitter account. An easy way to use this is simply to create a blanket Call to Action to pin to the top of your Twitter profile. Just create a “card” in which you customize the card’s headline, image, and CTA text, and use this as your leading “pinned” tweet.
LinkedIn also offers options for building your email list. You have to message folks directly, either using your connections or LinkedIn groups, but it’s worth the effort to attract a highly desirable group of potential supporters to your own email list.
3. Offer a Helpful Incentive to Sign Up for Your Email List
People are inundated with email these days, so “get our e-newsletter” will no longer cut it. What do you have that will be of direct benefit to your donor? How can you be useful to them? Think about helping, not selling. A popular option is an e-book with unique information and action tips. Something only you can offer due to your special experience, connections, research and skills. (e.g., “Recent aging research and what you can do to stay healthy longer;” “How to appreciate classical music through the lens of history;” “How human trafficking impacts your neighborhood, and what to do if you spot it,” and “10 ways to help kids love math and science”).
In for-profit businesses, e-books, reports, whitepapers and checklists have been common practice for some time now. Experts including John Jantsch and Derek Halpern have recently noted a shift towards free online courses and content libraries as incentives for email subscribers. If you’re a school, this is definitely something to consider. But plenty of organizations have great content lying around. Maybe it’s “Tips to Babyproof Your Home” that you use in a workshop. Or a “Recommended Reading List” that you share with participants in one of your programs. Or even healthy recipes your staff shares with one another. You can even offer these in video format. Get creative!
4. Make Sure Your Opt-Ins Are Mobile-Friendly
Too many nonprofit email opt-ins are not well formatted for mobile. The time to fix this is now! Do you know how many of your constituents use mobile devices when they surf their social media or access their email? According to B2C the majority of email activity now takes place on mobile devices. According to emailmonday mobile email will account for 15 to 70% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type.
What happens today if folks click on a link that takes them to your website? What will they see? Will it be easy to sign up to your email list? Try it for yourself!
5. Use a Lightbox Plugin
The form-based box that pops up over a website with a call-to-action is called a Light Box. They can be annoying, but they work. Really well. In some cases, conversions were increased a whopping 1375%. So consider using one to get folks to sign up for your email list. Just use them the right way. The good plugins have features that enable you to control how often they are seen and which pages they’ll show up on. For example, you can set a rule that your lightbox will pop up just the first time folks come to you, and then not again until [a period you specify]. The best advice I’ve heard is if your visitor dismisses the popup, don’t show it to her again for at least a week.
You can also set up scrolling-triggered pop-ups where your reader won’t see the lightbox until they’ve spent a certain amount of time on your site. The trigger time can be adjusted depending on where you want the pop-up to display based on the percentage of text read. The advantage here is that you’re targeting folks who’ve demonstrated an interest in your content, so they’re more likely to sign up.
6. Promote Opt-In Incentives On Your Videos and Podcasts
If you use videos and/or podcasts on your website, include a call to action at the end for folks to join your email list if they’d like to hear more of the same. Since video viewers and podcast listeners tend to provide you with a higher level of attention than your average reader, this is a great opportunity to deliver value and establish credibility; then convert that user experience to gain a new email.
7. Set Goals and Track Conversions in Google Analytics
Different strokes for different folks. You won’t know which method, or what content, drives the most folks to become email subscribers to your website/blog/e-newsletter unless you track them. Google Analytics can help you do this but you must set up the Goals section first so it knows what actions to keep track of.
Why Email Collection Must Not Be an Afterthought
Email connects the dots so social media followers become supporters. If you’re currently doing social media without an active conversion plan in place, it’s time to prepare your connect-the-dots strategy.
Think of the process as a donations funnel. You’ve got to narrow the opening into the bottle in order to scoop the contents into their intended container. Your social media followers are your “contents.” Your “narrower” is your email list — the most critical part of your funnel if you want to swoop followers into the place where you can easily collect donations.
Email is your connector. Your pathway to profit. Your driveway to donors. What will you do tomorrow to prioritize building your email strategy?