Fundraising Letter: Long vs. Short Letters in Direct Mail Fundraising Many people outside the direct marketing world assume short fundraising letters are more effective than long letters. Inside the direct response world, the opposite is almost always considered true. The long vs. short letter debate in Direct Mail copywriting has been tested so many times, with the longer letter winning so often, it has become second nature to most professionals. Read more...
The 2016 election campaign is entering the home stretch up. Non-profits will feel pressed to stay in front of their top their donors with so many distractions. Here’s some quick tips to help out: http://www.networkforgood.com/nonprofitblog/how-your-nonprofit-can-stand-out-in-an-election-year/
E-newsletters (or email newsletters) are quickly becoming standardized tools for non-profit organizations. Your online newsletter helps build awareness about your cause, bonds your subscribers to your organization and cause, and keeps the important issues in the forefront of your subscribers' minds. While putting together e-newsletters is not easy for smaller non-profits, it is certainly not impossible. If you haven’t yet considered one, think about penning an e-newsletter of your own. (Click here to see more reasons why they are important.) Here are a few tips to get you going on your own e-newsletter: 1. Discuss, don't Ask. Talk about your organization, the issues that are your organization’s focus, the people you help, and the methods you use to help them. Don't focus too much on donations (its not called a fundraising newsletter, for a reason); you’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask for donations throughout the year (click here to learn about fundraising emails). The newsletter is your opportunity to keep your supporters informed about your mission and give them updates about the important work you are doing. Keep your non-profit newsletter focused on the work you are doing and the impact your organization is having. This is not to say that you should not provide your readers an opportunity to contribute, but seeking donations should not be the focus of your newsletter. A good rule of thumb about your content is 90% educational, and 10% promotional. 2. Match copy and images. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” We're all familiar with this expression, but seem to easily forget it in our own work. Images are powerful tools for personalizing an issue or story, so carefully select the images to match and highlight your content. A good practice for choosing images is to choose your storyline, then select an image that conveys the emotion of that story, then write your story around that image. Make your artwork the centerpiece of your e-newsletter. 3. Make your Subject Line Pop. There’s an old saying in journalism, “If it bleeds, it leads.” While you don’t always have to be negative or sensationalistic, you do want to draw people in with your subject line. Get your readers' attention, and let them know what the topic of the newsletter will be. While some online marketing individuals try to familiarize their readers with their e-newsletter by sending it out with the exact same subject line, this is, generally, a losing technique. Most readers eventually find this boring, and start ignoring your newsletter altogether. Be creative in choosing a subject line and differentiate your organization from other groups. 4. Keep your design simple. A newsletter, by its nature, contains more than one story. Three or four stories is quite typical, but, if not presented properly, can overwhelm the reader. The best way to avoid overwhelming your reader is to keep the e-newsletter clean and simple. Make your copy concise, clearly differentiating between each story. In your email, it’s also a good practice to provide short teasers for each story that allow them to click on the story lead which takes them to a landing page that contains the full story, presented in a more dynamic fashion. Concise copy gives your subscribers a taste of your content — just enough that they want to click and learn more. White space is also important because it keeps your email clean and uncluttered, especially on mobile platforms. Here's a quick refresher on the psychology of design to keep in mind while designing your email. 5. Test, test, and test some more. Test every aspect of your e-newsletter: design, copy, subject lines, and images. Find out what is most effective, leading to the most opens, clicks, or donations. At LDMI, we have a simple but effective program that we use for all newsletters. We start with the story, move onto to the e-newsletter design, and finalize things with donations. Test length, pictures, design, format, the whole gamut to create a powerful and engaging newsletter your readers will look forward to. Once the fundamentals are set, you can move on to metered sends, donations, etc. And one final tip for good measure: make your e-newsletter easy for people to “optout”. As mentioned above, e-newsletters are primarily designed to bond your organization with your supporters, not to solicit donations. If a newsletter doesn't do that with one particular subscriber, then don't sweat. Let the subscriber unsubscribe as quickly as possible. If you don't, the newsletter will have the exact opposite effect bonding, first it will annoy the subscriber, then distance him or her from your organization. Remember, you already have them on your house file, do everything you can to keep them there. So there you have it. I recommend starting your e-newsletter as soon as possible. Get everything in order, including a strong review process, and see what impact an e-newsletter could have for your organization. Don’t rush into it, but work methodically and consistently to get your e-newsletter program up and running. Creating an e-newsletter doesn’t cost much, but it can be an effective tool in building the reputation of your non-profit and growing people's awareness about your organization and its mission. Want to increase your Facebook engagement, click here for our free E-book:
Landing pages are an essential step in converting new leads or convincing donors to give to your non-profit. “LDMI ran a test over several months with one of our medium-sized non-profits. In each case, regardless of the content, the Test Case with a dedicated landing page out performed the Test Case with email that linked directly to a donation page.” In fact, we saw a 127% increase in donations from the Landing Page. Ginny Soskey has some great examples of Landing Pages over at the HubSpot blog, “16 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See”. Take a look by clicking here. “There are so many elements that a top-notch landing page needs, and making those elements the "best" they can be often depends on what your landing page goals are.” Dowload are free ebook and increase your Facebook Engagement. Just click below and download a copy:
A control is a term used to refer to the current best prospect acquisition package. When I am trying to explain the concept of prospect controls to new clients they are sometimes puzzled about what determines a control. They ask if I, the agency, decide, or do they, the client, decide? Or they want to get started mailing the control right away prior to having sent the first letter. In my experience, the only thing that determines a control is response data. And to accurately call a prospect package a control it must be tested head-to-head against another appeal. Here is the method we use at LDMI: Two packages must be mailed to random 50% net outputs of the same lists at the same time. After a merge purge, the net output of each list should be split randomly in half and labeled according to the package test each will receive. We like to test at least 5 lists with a minimum net per test segment of 2,500. So we usually order 7,500-12,500 names per outside prospect lists. After m/p we end up with net output between 5-10K per list. Then, after randomly splitting those lists into two test segments you arrive at test cells between 2,500-5,000. This will bring each package you are testing to a total of 12,500-25,000 total records. If your test quantities are on the low end and results are not very convincing one way or the other then you should re-test. This is especially true if you are looking at test results which may cause you to replace a long running control. There are different ways to determine a prospect winner, but if you HAD to choose one metric to determine a prospect winner, pick the percent response. Once you have converted a prospect you have time to work on other metrics like average gift, or sale, and you can always test package versions that reduce package costs. So percent response is the first metric to look for. One thing to keep in mind however is, if the package with the highest percent response also has a much lower average gift, or average sale, you should then look at ROI. This brings up an important point regarding the up-front work necessary to structure a test to determine a winning prospect control. When evaluating package results make sure you are comparing cost per piece of equal quantity. If one package was produced at higher quantities that would reduce the cost per piece. This happens a lot when we have a long-standing control and do a test of a new package at smaller quantities. Make sure you recalculate head-to-head results using same quantity Rollout costs per piece for both packages. The way Lornezo Cowgill, LDMI Production Manager, manages this is by getting roll-out costs for any new tests packages at the same time as the initial test quantity bids. Another thing to consider if testing a new package against an existing control is the creative costs of the new test. The way our agency allocates creative costs like writing and design is with the first mailing of that package. So if a longstanding control goes up against a new test, the test package will show those creative costs while the control will not. In that scenario recalculate the head-to-head results as if BOTH packages had no creative costs. In the real-life example below this test helped us establish a control for a new client that remained the prospect control for the next year. This test compared two completely different prospect donor acquisition packages, HT & PC. HT was an Emergency Humanitarian appeal with: a 2 color 6x9 OE, a 4 page 8 & 1/2 x 11 two-sheet letter, a perf-off reply card with a line for the recipient to sign a pre-existing prayer intentions and a # 9 BRE. PC was a Pray Card appeal with: a 2 color #10 OE, a 4 page 8 & 1/2 x 11 two-sheet letter, a full page reply that included space for the recipient to write in their own prayer intentions, a separate prayer card and #9 BRE. We mailed five outside prospect lists on the same mail date. After merge purge we split the net output in half so that each package was mailed to approximately 27,900 records. PC had slightly higher percent response, much higher average gift and better ROI. Even though PC cost more to mail than HT the increase in average gift was enough to compensate for the higher costs. PC offered BOTH a prayer card which the recipient could keep AND the area of the reply for the recipient to write their own prayer intentions. These added involvement techniques allowed, and encouraged, the recipient to handle and get involved with the package, which most likely explained its success. Many of the best and longest running prospect controls I have been involved with have used similar involvement techniques. “Involvement devices have been tested in so many variations and under so many circumstances that their effectiveness is a generally accepted fact. They’re especially powerful in acquisition” If you have a control now and it doesn’t have an involvement device, plan a test version with one and see if it beats your existing control. And if you’re struggling to establish a control make sure your acquisition letters have an involvement device, or two. But don’t assume anything about beating a control. The package that finally beat PC and became the new control was one that none of our team thought would win. We tested it anyway and it convincingly beat PC. And yes, it also had an involvement device. Remember, our opinions don’t matter in determining a control. Only the response data matters. If you have constructed your test properly, have read the results accurately and have priced out the rollout correctly, you should be confident in your results. And when you find your winning prospect control package keep mailing it...and keep testing against it to try to beat it.
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