The Good Works Goldfish

The Good Works Goldfish

How does my email performance compare to other nonprofits?

May 16, 2011

It’s important to know just how well your emails are going with your donors – it’s a good indicator of whether or not your messages are really resonating with them. This information is readily available if you’re using an established email client (such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact), but for those of you who may be managing your e-appeals in-house, you may not know what’s good and what’s bad.

As it stands, here’s some average open, click and bounce rates for the nonprofit industry:

Open rates: Roughly 20%

Click rates: Between 3.5% and 12%

Bounce rates: Between 1.5% and 5.9%

There’s a pretty big amount of variation there, but in general, I’d say an open rate of 20% is really good for any campaign, and a click rate above 3.5% (of unique users) is good for any campaign that’s inviting donors to make an online donation.

Are you getting figures like that in your e-campaigns? No? Yes, but you’d like to do better?

So how do you improve your email performance?

Open rates:

  • Keep your subject lines simple, basic, and non-spammy so they don’t get caught by filers (run a spam check if your program has it).
  • Send your emails from an actual person at your organization with a real email address – this also adds to your transparency should a donor wish to ask a question!

Click rates:

  • Only include one or two links in your actual email – if it’s to a donate page, give it prominence and mention it throughout the email. And make sure your recipients know exactly where they’re going to be taken – nobody likes a surprise when they’re clicking links in emails.

And a good way to know if your emails are spammy is by looking at the abuse complaints – these are people who have clicked “junk” or “mark as spam” when they’ve seen your email. A good rule of thumb is if you’re getting more than 1 complaint every 1000 emails, you need to look at what you’re sending out.

Here’s some handy links that will definitely help you out:

Average email open and click rates

Average email open and click rates (with some tips on increasing email performance)

How to write effective subject lines (with a great good vs. bad comparison)

How to avoid spam filters

How to make open rates better

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