Build Donor Loyalty with Email List Segmentation

Grapefruit with segments
04.11.2012By

A child pays attention when you mention cookies or a piece of fruit. In a similar way, segmentation is based on the idea that a message is most effective when it reaches the right audience.

The converse is also true: A message that is miss-matched to the audience is not only ineffective, it can hurt your brand! How many times have you received a phone call from your internet provider, only to realize its just a telemarketing call, and for the 20th time you have to tell them that you are already a customer. Not fun.

Are you losing donations with mismatched messaging?

Do all of your email subscribers receive the same email messaging whether they are a new subscriber or a long-time donor? If they do, you’re leaving piles of money on the table.

New subscribers versus long-term donors

Chances are you have both new e-mail subscribers and long-term donors on your e-mail list. Here’s why you would want to segment them into two different lists:

  • Your new email subscriber should get messaging that introduces them to the cause on their terms. Educational articles, research and other useful information, all with feather-weight CTAs. Your goal here is to take a new relationship and nurture it into something more.
  • Your long-term donors should get messaging that encourages them to join a peer-to-peer fundraising effort, or lead a team of volunteers, or upgrade their financial giving – in amount or frequency. Your goal here is to keep a long-term relationship fresh by providing additional opportunities to fight alongside you in the cause.

The point here is if each email subscriber received messaging that truly spoke to them, based on their interests and relationship to your organization, they would be much more likely to actually act on your CTAs. And optimizing your relationship with current donors means big money!

How to segment your email lists

The first thing you need to do is define your segments (new subscribers, donors, volunteers, lives in Boston, likes mushroom pizza, etc.). How you define your segments obviously depends on your goals for each segment.

Once you define your segments, you need to determine what data you will need to identify each segment. For example, segmenting by location would require address data.

Each email marketing service has different tools for segment lists, and some are more robust than others.

Aweber (shown above), for example allows you to see email subscribers who have donated (and even the dollar amount they have given).

Tools aside, segment is really about identifying people on your list by the actions they have taken.

  • Who has donated once?
  • Who has donated repeatedly?
  • Who has volunteered?
  • Who has shared your content on social media sites?
  • Who has never opened your emails?
  • Who has opened your emails?
  • Who has clicked on the links in your emails?

Keep your segments simple

Once you learn how to segment your e-mail list, it may be very tempting to create lists for every single type of behavior. However, it’s best to keep your segments limited to what your goals are.

For example, a list of people who have donated (versus not) would be a “must-have” segment. Focus on creating these “must have” segments first, and then work on other the “nice to haves”.

How are you using segmentation in your nonprofit?