Creative and brand strategy, Email strategy

Three Key Strategies to Grow Email Revenue: Insights from a Head-to-Head Creative Test

When beginning a new nonprofit partnership, our team of experts – spanning across creative content and design, digital strategy and ads, data science and email production – works together to develop strategies that are effective, ambitious, and innovative. With every goal we set and tactic we test, we’re driving revenue to help our partner power missions working to change the world for good, and we’re building communities and telling gripping stories that will draw in and retain lifelong supporters of their work.

We’re looking at one such partnership to see how our creative strategy held up in a head-to-head alongside their traditional fundraising efforts. We began working with this major nonprofit organization in 2022 at the start of their fiscal year, in the leadup to Q4 and the kickoff to the busy end-of-year season. We split their list in half for the month to test the impact of our creative strategy against their current strategy, building a sophisticated strategy aiming to make this half of their audience feel heard, deepen their relationship with the program’s mission, and drive strong response. At the end of one month, we saw revenue results that doubled our goal – nearly reaching this organization’s entire monthly fundraising goal with only half their email list.

What kinds of creative decisions drove that overwhelming success? Read on for all the details:

The Results:

We know our data-driven strategies and innovative creative approach drives strong response, but we were thrilled to see the impact of their implementation by the numbers:

How we did it:

As soon as we began working with our new partners, we took a deep dive into their data to learn what’s worked well for their audiences in the past. We then took the powerful stories that make their mission so impactful and infused that content with our tried-and-true best practices – and we tested every step of the way to yield learnings specific to their program to drive our future strategic approach.

Our approach centered on three key strategies:

  1. Lead with engagement, follow with appeals. In the first half of the month, we focused on cultivation, sending engagement emails and passive asks and using our custom-built product, Sign For Good, as a storytelling tool, taking our audience through a quiz that personalized supporters’ experience. Then we pivoted toward a tactical fundraising push at the end of the month, utilizing a match and leaning on end-of-month deadlines with the audience we’d primed for giving.
  2. Follow the best practices that drive response. We tested into tactics that were especially activating for this audience. Data from initial emails led us to increasingly focus on driving urgency through deadline-driven messaging, sharing back supporter records, buttons with match callouts, and GIFs highlighting the stories of the individuals this organization supports. By coupling these proven tactics with powerful storytelling around this organization’s work and mission, we were able to drive strong response from their audience.
  3. Test relentlessly to confirm your current approach, try new tactics, and build on insights. Because every audience will respond to slightly different tactics, it was valuable to glean learnings specific to this organization: shorter button text and subject lines were more effective, top-of-email donate buttons drew more clicks without an additional line of linked copy, and ask arrays performed better when the buttons were all the same color rather than highlighting any one amount.

Through innovative creative paired with even more rigorous testing, we managed to raise 97% over our goal for revenue and drive a 107% increase in average donation over the previous year’s results. We’re excited to continue to drive increases in revenue, response, and audience size in our partnership with this organization.

If you’re interested in testing strategies like these for your own list, reach out MissionWired AVP Duncan Stewart at [email protected]! We love getting to work to help drive growth for organizations fighting to change the world for the better.

To keep reading about MissionWired’s approach to creative partnerships, read our Q&A with MissionWired creative leads, When Inspiration Meets Insights. For more on how nonprofits are approaching digital strategy in a difficult economic landscape, check out Three Strategies for Navigating Economic Uncertainty.