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How charities can boost their email results with segmentation

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Working under pressure is a day-to-day occurrence for charity marketers, perhaps more so than in other sectors. The pressure to turn a small budget into a successful marketing program, to show transparency and accountability for how that money is spent and to wear multiple marketing hats in a small team can be overwhelming. So when it comes to being more advanced in your marketing strategy, we know it’s hard to do things exactly as you dream. But starting small is no shame! It’s better than doing nothing – a situation a lot of marketers are in.

In the spirit of encouraging incremental innovation – the dedication to making small changes, reviewing, optimising and iterating on a regular basis – I’d like to share some tips on segmentation. You can read more general email advice in our new eGuide dedicated to charities: Up Close and Personal.

7 tips on how to approach segmentation with limited resources

  1. Start with broad segments such as donors, volunteers and advocates. They all believe in your cause, but have different motivations to get involved. You can keep your email campaign layout the same, but tweak your messaging slightly to reflect that difference in interest.
  2. Think beyond the obvious. Segment based on interests (inferred or selected in a preference centre) rather than someone’s age or where they live. You’ll have a better chance of constructing a relevant message.
  3. Have a person in mind when you create a campaign. Rather than considering the 25-34s interested in sports and running (for example) as a mass of people, find a friend, co-worker or even a celebrity to picture when you create the email design and copy. If you know them, you could even ask what they think!
  4. Don’t have much data? Try segmenting based on observed behaviour instead. Checking the reports in your ESP, you can separate those who open every single newsletter from those who have opened only one in the past year; you then have two very different segments you can target accordingly. Make the super-engaged feel more important by sending them exclusive content which your less engaged subscribers probably wouldn’t appreciate anyway.
  5. Look into the past for inspiration. A great example of this is our Parkinson’s UK case study in which they segmented subscribers based on whether they had bought cards or a different product the year before to suggest the same product category in their next Christmas campaign. This simple reasoning helped them double the revenue from their online shop.

Parkinsons UK cards

Parkinsons UK presents

6. Don’t know where to start? Look for case studies in the charity sector in a marketing media database such as that of Econsultancy or Figaro Digital to find out what your peers are doing to be successful. With results to show for it, you’ll be more likely to convince others to use more segmentation too.

7. Keep an open mind! Give your segmentation strategy some time and be open to testing different messages, creative layouts and images. You won’t find the sweet spot on day one, but if you focus on optimising your messages, segmentation will show its true value soon.

Enjoyed these tips? We have a lot more advice and examples in our eGuide, so download a free copy of it to read on your next lunch break.

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