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Using Data to Cut Through the Clutter in Year-End Campaigns

Published by Tim Kachuriak

Could boosting your end of year campaign results be as simple as scheduling a couple of emails on those few days no one else is emailing?

It very well could be.

Let me pose this specific question in response, from real Year-End Campaign data:

Are 151 nonprofits going to send more than 15,268 emails in the last two weeks of December…all on weekdays?

The data says that they have before, and likely will again.

[Wondering how we know just how many emails have been sent—and when? Click here and find out]

Here’s another question:

What’s your first job in your year-end campaign?

It’s not to impress other fundraisers. It’s not to appeal to everyone. It’s not to run the cleverest campaign in online fundraising history. It’s not even to use the latest and greatest tricks and tools.

Your first job—the one that you must get right or nothing else matters—is to get noticed by your ideal donors. If you do that, and can facilitate responses, your campaign will succeed.

When we analyzed 17,263 emails from 151 nonprofits here’s one thing we noticed:

Mailing on the days recommended as “best practices” might actually hurt your campaign because it increases competition.

Take a look for yourself…

Email Volume Month of December

If your first job is to get noticed (and it is), you should test mailing in the troughs in the graph above, not the peaks – exactly the opposite of what the “best practices” mindset would suggest.

What are those troughs? The weekends.

Now, let’s be clear on this: We aren’t peddling a new best practice here. We’re taking a principle (“Your first job as a fundraiser is to get attention”) and looking at real data (“Very few people send emails on weekend”) to form a hypothesis (“It’s easier to get noticed in an inbox with less emails—like on the weekend”).

Hypotheses need to be tested. The only way to know for sure is to test your emails in your campaign to your audience.

Fortunately, this is a simple test to run (and since most every email system gives you the ability to schedule an email launch, you don’t even have to work the weekend you send).

Put yourself in your ideal donor’s shoes. What are they doing on the weekend? What sort of subject line might catch their eye? What conversation would pique their interest?

Craft an email that would stand out to your ideal donor on a weekend.

Schedule it to send on a weekend.

Measure the results.

We check our personal email at least a couple of times (ha!) on weekends.

Do you?

I bet your donors do, too. There is only one way to find out for sure. Try testing a weekend send in your EOY campaign this year.

That’s one simple tactic that could help you cut through the year-end campaign clutter.

To get the full report including all 5 insights you can test this year (and the data that uncovered them), you can download the e-book here.


Published by Tim Kachuriak

Tim Kachuriak is Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer of NextAfter.