Getting inactive email list subscribers back on board

August 5, 2014

Getting inactive email list subscribers back on board

Direct mail is an effective method of outreach because it reaches the physical mailbox of a recipient and creates a personal connection, however brief, that isn't often found with traditional mass-media marketing. In much the same way as direct mail, email is one form of electronic outreach that creates a similar personal connection through inboxes. It's not a stretch to say that having an email component to fundraising and general awareness campaigns is important to many charitable groups. But what can nonprofits do about the inactive subscribers to their lists, the ones who haven't clicked on an embedded link or even opened an email for some time?

Nonprofit marketing blog Getting Attention! recently discussed a case study on reactivating email list subscribers. The study focused on the methods used by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group which used a three-pronged strategy to get lapsed subscribers back into the fold. The group started off with a personal, "We miss you" message and was followed by a more direct call to action, saying the group still needed them. Both emails used personalization by including the first name of the recipient in the title. The final message simply said "Thanks and goodbye" and provided one last chance to re-up with the group.

This strategy combined a number of best practices, including having an early call to action and using the names of recipients. Frogloop said using the first names of contributors is a good start, but further focus into understanding donor preferences is also important. The UCS also asked recipients to further specify what messages they wanted to receive based on specific issues and general interests. UCS re-engaged 5 percent of its inactive file with the campaign, a strong result considering the low commitment of time and resources, but the best practices highlighted here can help organizations create their own campaigns to bring contributors back on board.

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