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What We Learned From Email Patterns On Giving Tuesday

Good news and bad news can be drawn from email performance on Giving Tuesday. I asked our email team for their “top trends” on Giving Tuesday -- to help you prepare for what you might find this end-of-year fundraising period and beyond.

Blacklist Providers Are Cracking Down. Even More.

  • Low-priority blacklist providers have gotten more aggressive about nonprofit spam trap hits. This gives cause for concern. In the ever-evolving world of email deliverability, there are “high-priority” blacklists and “low-priority” blacklists.  A listing by a high-priority blacklist will immediately impact your ability to place emails in inboxes.  A low-priority blacklisting is an early warning sign of list problems.  Take the low-priority listings seriously – ignoring them and not updating list hygiene habits can very likely lead to hitting traps owned by the high priority blacklists.
  • We’re seeing even low-priority blacklist providers get more strict in their responses to our de-listing requests in this end of year period. We routinely request de-listings from certain low-priority but high-visibility blacklists.  In the past they would de-list you with a stern finger-wagging.  Now, their responses are increasingly pointed: “Any message sent to a spam trap is spam. The message that caused this listing is spam.”  (These responses are polite compared to those from high-priority blacklists where our clients are required to take measured and provable actions before the de-list request is honored.)
  • SPAM traps have an increasingly serious impact on your ability to place emails in inboxes.  Follow the best practices for avoiding spam traps that are spelled out in many places, not just by Blackbaud. And don’t send to SPAM traps.

     John Alan is our Team Lead for Email Operations Engineering. He fights blacklistings relentlessly on your behalf. He doesn’t like spam traps.

Smaller Email Sends Correlated to Greater Returns
  • On Giving Tuesday, we saw organizations send more, smaller campaigns. Fewer organizations sent “full house file” messages. And, performance as far as return per message sent was higher. We think there was a correlation between more targeted messages, and better revenue from email overall.
  • Luminate system performance was outstanding. We processed millions and millions of messages an hour. Peak email loads during some hours on Giving Tuesday now resemble the numbers of emails that organizations send on the last day or two of the year. So from a purely technical point of view, we can see how Giving Tuesday is starting to be a significant part of organizations’ year end fundraising plans.
     John Miller led the team monitoring Luminate system performance on Giving Tuesday. He’s Product Manager for Luminate Online and a veteran of 11 seasons of end-of-year fundraising with Luminate.

Avoid Email Rush Hours & Spam Complaints
A few scheduling and targeting reminders as you prepare your end of year email sends:
  • Don’t send at the top of the hour. Everybody schedules a message to go out at 8 a.m. While the system has the capacity to handle the messages, the experience is like being in line when the doors open on Black Friday at Walmart. You're in a big line with a lot of people jostling to get through the doors for that big screen TV. 
  • Schedule your message for 7:45 or 8:15 instead of 8:00. The email will process more quickly and it eliminates congestion. It’ll also help to separate your message from those of all the other bulk email senders across the world also sending at peak times. Think of your own inbox on Giving Tuesday this year. You were more likely to look at the ones that came in on their own, than ones that came in a group of 20.
  • We continue to see higher soft bounces based on the spam complaint rate calculation for specific email providers like Gmail, Hotmail, and others. Mailboxes are really tightening up and listening to their own users when they mark an email as spam.
    • Most mailboxes follow the industry standard of 1 accepted spam complaint rate out of every 1000 messages from an email campaign. 
    • You must use engagement as a key factor in list segmentation to avoid spam reports.
    • By sending more targeted messages to people who want to receive them, more of your messages will get through.
     Samantha McGuin, Principal Product Manager, is responsible for Blackbaud email systems infrastructure.

Common Characteristics of Successful Giving Tuesday Campaigns
Giving Tuesday numbers told a story – and pointed to some solid, positive trends:
  • Online giving increased.
  • Average online gift size increased.
  • More gifts were made on mobile devices than ever before.
Digging beneath the headlines, we saw even more interesting stats.
  • Organizations that raised more money in 2018 than 2017 received 67% of their gifts from first time donors. This would seem to indicate that organizations that ran successful Giving Tuesday campaigns cast a wide net, coordinating email messages with social media and other acquisition channels to convince people who had never made a donation, to give on that day.
  • On GivingTuesday, 59% of all gifts were from repeat donors. Over the entirety of FY 2018, organizations brought in 65% of gifts from repeat donors (stat from the soon-to-be-released 2018 Luminate Online Benchmark Report). Indications are that on peak giving days like Giving Tuesday, it’s important to make a plan to attract new donors to give first time gifts - as well as relying on existing donors. 
  • Wait, doesn't the first stat contradict the second? No, because not all organizations raised more money in 2018 than 2017. Organizations that grew their fundraising year-over-year brought in a lot more gifts from new donors than those that raised about the same or less than in 2017.
  • On GivingTuesday, 98% of gifts were one-time gifts. Peak giving days might not be best for converting people to sustainers. Focus on that effort as a part of a stewardship and upgrade campaign to grow engagement and lifetime value.
     I’m Kathryn Hall, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Luminate Online, also the author of the Luminate Online Benchmark Report.
Posted by Kathryn Hall on Dec 20, 2018 3:40 PM America/New_York

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