I’ve read a lot about online and offline welcome kits, packages, and series. These are almost always treated in separate articles by separate people in separate universes. If your organization is sufficiently large, chances are they are written by separate people; if it’s even larger, they are written by separate people in separate departments.
In studying, I’ve found one deep and profound difference between welcoming donors and constituents online versus offline:
One is made of dead trees; the other is made of electrons in tubes.
Other than that, not much difference. There are four major purposes for welcoming someone:
- To appreciate them in a way that makes them like you. Online, there’s research from Powerthru Consulting from their work with Environmental Action that is worth a read. They found that everyone who opened an email from their welcome series, it increased their likelihood of opening an email over the next six months by 20%. Further, it increased their likelihood of opening all of the emails over the next six months by 1-3%.
Welcoming emails also are well-opened and clicked on, far more than regular emails, according to MarketingSherpa.
It’s more difficult to get such data on mail pieces, but I’d wager they run the same way. This first post-thank you mail piece is going to be (if you are doing it right) in the honeymoon phase of the relationship and thus affect the trajectory from there.
- To learn about the person and engage with them. If you doubt why should know about your donors, sneak over to my Winter is Coming end-of-times prediction about nonprofits who do not know their donors. Suffice it to say, your best chance of getting future donations from someone are by making sure you are customizing your asks to their desires. You won’t know how to do that if you don’t know them.
- To allow them to learn about and engage with you. In this honeymoon period, you are still a bit new to them as well. Maybe they are actually more interested in something that you do than the one they donated to. Maybe they are interested in advocacy, volunteering, downloading materials — who knows at this point?
- To get another gift, perhaps an upgraded one. A one-time giver is not really a donor. About a quarter will give another gift. While this is better odds than putting your finger on a name in the phonebook (side note: we really need a new analogy for this), it’s not someone who is committed to the organization. Double this for online donors, who are even more fickle on average.
A donor who gives a second gift early in the process is more than twice as likely to retain as a long-term donor than someone who waits. Do not be in the “oh, they just gave; let’s not ask them” crowd that does not strike hot iron. The debate over whether or not to ask in thank you’s is a legitimate debate (I say you should, but other smart people say no), but not asking in the welcome series at some point is simply incorrect.
This should not be restricted by medium. I’ve already talked about this extensively in the post on breaking down your thank you silos. So, I’ll just add two quick things here:
- You usually will have someone’s mail address when they donate online, but not their online address when they donate through the mail, so this is easier to do from online to mail.
- fMRI studies show that reading from dead trees causes more emotional processing than reading from electrons. Roger Dooley and his Neuromarketing team have the story here. So there probably is greater applicability of these techniques going from online to mail.
This week, I’ll go through each of these purposes in turn for a welcome strategy that is medium-agnostic. Personally, I view hitting all of these points as more important than whether you send two emails or five or the exact timing of when the mail gets out, so we will focus on technique and usable tips.