Marketing in the non-profit world focuses on building relationships. People give to causes that they care about.

Email is one of the most effective marketing tools for non-profits because email allows you to target your audience, personalize your content, and maintain strong connections.

However, email marketing does not guarantee a return on investment without adequate research, planning, and segmentation.

Email segmentation for non-profits begins with analyzing the data you have about the people on your your email list.

Focus on the open rate as a starting point when you are looking to improve engagement with your email campaigns.  If your open rate is low, the time and money you are putting into the campaign content are not well spent.

According to Forbes, non-profits saw an email open rate of 29.3% in March 2020, up 4.4% from the previous year. If your open rate is considerably lower than average, now is the time to capitalize on Forbes' reported upswing in non-profit open rates.

Segmentation (dividing your email list into smaller segments based on set criteria) is a proven way to increase your open rate—and your ROI—by personalizing and targeting your email messages. The goal is to make email marketing relevant to followers based on such factors as geography, donation history, or specific areas of interest.

Here are 10 tips to get you started with email segmentation for your non-profit:

  1. Create a welcome campaign for new subscribers. Welcome emails have 4x the open rate and a higher click-through rate on average compared to other types of marketing emails. Studies have shown that more than 70% of your new subscribers expect a welcome email.

    Learn how to set up welcome email campaigns

  2. Send birthday greetings. If your subscribers provide birth dates when they sign up for emails from you, create an email campaign that sends automated birthday greetings. A birthday greeting may not generate an immediate response, but it serves as  serve as a touch points. It typically takes 15-18 touch points with an organization before a person becomes a donor.

    See how you can set up automated birthday greetings.

  3. Tailor content to geographic locations. If your non-profit operates in several communities, try targeting content to specific locations. Use the location in your headline to draw attention and make a connection with your audience.

    Learn how you can set up email segmentation based on location.

  4. Segment donors into targeted groups. First-time donors are not likely to become repeat donors unless they receive communication that is relevant to them. Possible segments include first time donors, returning donors, VIP donors, donation reasons, and donation frequency.

    Here are few ideas on how you can segment donors

  5. Personalize emails to VIP donors. VIP donors attend fundraisers, sponsor events, and provide financial gifts year after year. They deserve VIP treatment. In order to keep this vital group of donors engaged, your organization should use personalized outreach strategies as much as possible.  Personalized emails—such as invitations to VIP events, or or personalized thank you notes—can be a key part of that overall VIP plan.

    See how you can set up a campaign to VIP donors

  6. Inspire non-donors with stories. Create a special email campaign for those who haven't made a donation yet this year. Share stories about how your organization’s work, and especially the positive impact your organization has had on individuals.

    Learn how you can create non-donor campaigns

  7. Set up a returning donors campaign. Once someone has donated to your organization, they are likely to give again. However, first time donors are less likely to return if they do not receive timely acknowledgment and meaningful ongoing communication from you.

    How to set up a returning donors campaign.

  8. Engage donors in fundraising events. Send emails by segment to announce fundraising events and invite participation. Re-engage those who have participated in the past. Encourage those who have not attended previously to sign up. If appropriate, create a segment for virtual participation.

  9. Gather data to tailor emails. Volunteer sign-up forms, event registrations, and donor cards provide data that can be used for  segmentation. Information that might be gathered on various forms includes age, gender, occupation, income, location, and level of education.

    Here are a few ideas on additional data you can gather

  10. Set up a membership renewal campaign. Many non-profits invite people to join as members in order to build a base of loyal supporters. If your organization has a membership program, try sending renewal reminders before each member's membership expires. This will automate your renewal process and improve your donor retention rate over time.

    Read the case study on how Idaho Conservation League was able to automatically send constituents into a renewal campaign

Thoughtfully designed, personalized email list segmentation will help your organization maintain strong relationships with people who care about your mission. As a result, you'll see your donor engagement  rate climb.

Could your non-profit benefit from more streamlined, automated email list segmentation? Predictive Response’s email marketing tool supports automated segmentation based on the data you already have in Salesforce, allowing you to easily send meaningful emails to your supporters. Book a demo today to see how it works.