Would you think of sending a text-only version of your email newsletter instead of both text and HTML?  Surprisingly, many event fundraising organizations still send text-only transactional emails to their event participants and donors.  In addition to making it hard to track open and click through rates, text-based transactional emails provide your supporters an inconsistent brand experience at the point when their affinity with your organization is highest: right after they’ve just made a donation or registered for your event.

No SpamThese so-called transactional emails also have other benefits, if executed well.  According to research by Jupiter, your recipients receive an average of 87 transactional emails (i.e., receipts, registration confirmations, etc.) a year, versus 3,694 marketing emails (i.e., email newsletters). In addition, the average click through rate of a transactional email is 20% versus 6% for marketing emails.

So how can you optimize your transactional emails to build brand affinity and increase the likelihood of a referral or follow-on gift?

  1. The first place to start is the subject line.  If your subject line still says “Donation Receipt” or “Registration Confirmation,” make the simple switch to “Thank you for your donation to X.” That being said, also make sure the subject line doesn’t over deliver. The subject line should re-enforce what is in the email. Also, most ISPs show about 60 characters in a subject line. If your subject line is longer than this, make sure it makes sense when trimmed around 60 characters. Jupter Research has also shown that including your organization name in the subject line can increase open rates by up to 32% over a subject line without branding. And something as simple as an A/B split test can identify the effectiveness of new subject lines. Try something new, but don’t forget to test it.
  2. Next, make sure your transactional emails have a call-to-action.  This might include following you on Twitter, becoming a Fan on Facebook, subscribing to your blog’s RSS feed, viewing a video, inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter, asking them to complete an online survey, and so on.  Because people consume information in different ways, it doesn’t hurt to test multiple calls-to-action. That being said, make sure the transactional content gets the prime real estate in your message.
  3. Make sure you use a recognizable “from” address.  By using a consistent from name, your recipients will grow accustomed to receiving email from you and will be less likely to hit the SPAM button.
  4. Read it backwards. This sounds like an obvious one, but it needs to be done: don’t forget to grammar and spell check your emails. One editing technique that you can use to catch their errors that might get missed by your spell checker is to read your email backwards before sending it.  Sounds strange, but it works!
  5. The big finish. Finally, don’t forget to personalize the email with the recipients name, anticipate questions (i.e., matching gift information), make it clear how to contact you by phone or email, and includes photos to increase click-through rates.

If you use Blackbaud Sphere or Convio TeamRaiser and need help implementing any of these tips, please contact one of our event fundraising specialists to learn more about Event 360’s consulting services.

And if you’re looking to benchmark your transactional emails, take a look at this thank you email Event 360 developed for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.

Transactional Email

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