Let’s start out by facing a tough reality: most nonprofits — even the most successful ones — aren’t getting the most they could be from their email list.
It’s not that you’re not working hard or seeing good results. In fact, for many, email is the best way to reach donors, volunteers, and staff.
But there’s one thing most nonprofits aren’t doing that could make a big impact.
Best of all, adding that one thing to your email marketing strategy is a lot easier than you might think.
It starts with understanding a term you may have heard before — segmentation.
Segmentation is the process of organizing your contacts into different groups with the goal of targeting them with content that is relevant to their needs or interests.
Rather than sending the same message to your entire list, segmentation allows you to create and send messages with specific groups in mind.
This is a great way to follow up with volunteers after an event or reach out to your top donors with a personal appeal to reach a fundraising goal at the last minute.
Why is segmentation important?
One of the biggest reasons people ignore emails or unsubscribe from email lists is because the content they receive isn’t relevant to them.
Think about your own experience: even if you’re interested in an organization, if their messages aren’t relevant to you, do you start to tune them out?
Segmentation ensures you’re reaching the right audience with the right message so they’ll be more likely to stay engaged and get involved.
If you’ve never segmented your list — one of the questions you may be asking is “how can I get started?”
If you’re only collecting names and emails when adding contacts to your email list, you’re missing out on receiving valuable insight into your audience right from the start.
Think about what other information would be relevant for your organization so you can provide your audience with targeted messages.
Here are 5 ways you can start organizing your list:
1. Use what you know
If you’re brand new to segmentation, you may want to start by creating a list of your most loyal supporters. Even if you don’t have a ton of information about your contacts, you should be able to quickly scan your list and recognize the people who are your organization’s biggest advocates.
You can create a list for these “VIP’s” and use it as a resource when you want to reach only your most loyal audience members.
2. Update your sign up process
Much of the information you need to segment your list can be available right from the moment people sign up.
While you may only want to require people to give their name and email address, you can also add optional fields like address, company name, location.
You can also provide options for the type of content they want to receive and let new contacts opt-in to different lists right from the start.
3. Use a survey
An online survey is a quick and efficient way to collect information from your email contacts.
You can provide multiple choice questions to help gauge people’s interest around a particular product or service, and can also provide open-ended questions for people to fill out their own information.
4. Host an event
Events are a great opportunity to collect additional information for your contact list.
You can collect information when interacting with attendees face-to-face, and also use an online registration tool to collect important details before the event.
You can also create a separate list for people who attend your events, and send follow-up emails and invitations to future activities.
5. Use your reports
Much of the information you’ll need to segment your list is available right within your email reports.
You can see which contacts are opening your emails each month, and export a list of people who have clicked on a particular link.
This is a great way to identify your most active readers, and can also be used to learn more about the content your audience is most interested in.
If you see a group of contacts clicking through to learn more about a particular event or to read a piece of content, you could then create a separate list and follow up with more information on a topic relevant to them.
With the right information, you’ll be ready to start segmenting your list!
Your contacts have opted-in to receive updates from your business, but it’s your responsibility to offer an experience that meets their needs and inspires them to take action.
Take some time to think about the different groups of contacts you have on your list. Start with lists for your biggest donors and most loyal volunteers, then create lists based off of event attendance or email engagement.
By tailoring your messages to smaller groups, you’ll send more targeted information that drives impact for your organization and cause.