This week, I experienced a simple and effective way to increase engagement with my donors: use their name. Email marketing is, by design, a one-to-many style of communication. However, personalizing emails to create the feel of one-on-one communication will increase the likelihood of engagement with your donors. Addressing someone by their name is the most personal way to communicate. I’ll show you three ways to create a personal connection with your donors to increase engagement, whether that means opens, reads, clicks or responses.
First Things First: Tidy-up Your Subscriber List
Take a look at your subscriber list. The best way to review a large list of names is to export them to a spreadsheet. Start with a sort on the first name and then run a spell check. With names in alphabetical order, incorrect spellings will jump out at you. Next, turn on Filter; this will show you every occurrence of a uniquely spelled name. Finally, repeat the process for the last name. Before uploading corrections, separate subscribers who are missing a first or last name and include a tag (“missing first” and/or “missing last”) as you upload so those can be omitted.
An Eye-catching Subject
Put your donor’s name right there on the Subject line. What a great way to differentiate your email from those others! In Mailchimp, use the format *|FIRST|* wherever you’d like the donor’s first name to appear. And while you’re at it, go ahead and put their name in the Preview text, too.
A Proper Greeting
How do you like to be addressed?
- Hello Steve, I want you to know that, thanks to your generosity, we found homes for 15 dogs and 9 cats yesterday.
- (No greeting.) I want you to know that, thanks to your generosity, we found homes for 15 dogs and 9 cats yesterday.
- (Anonymous.) Hello, I want you to know that, thanks to your generosity, we found homes for 15 dogs and 9 cats yesterday.
Well, if I’ve donated to your cause, I’d appreciate it if you knew my name and used my name. Enough said. So let’s personalize the greeting:
Now that you’ve personalized the Subject and the Greeting, one last way to personalize your email is to include a photo specific to your donor. If you need to segment your subscriber list to do this, just add a tag like “parent” for donors with children or “senior adult” for donors of a certain age. Then replicate your email and for subscribers with a parent tag, include an image of their children, not a stock photo. For subscribers with a senior adult tag, include an image of them or their friends.
Try all of these for a home run and let me know if you see an uptick in the responses from your donors.