March 27th was the 12th Charity Meetup and it was on the topic of Email Marketing. Charity Meetup events bring together people from all charities/non-profits of all sizes to learn, engage and make connections.
The event organiser is Dawn Newton and she began by giving a little overview of why she created Charity Meetup. She wanted an event that encouraged networking and through a format that includes group activities to get you chatting. It’s great as it means you talk to people from a wide range of charities and backgrounds, and people you’d never meet otherwise. I made some interesting connections and I saw many others being made. I’m sure many people have a lot to thank Dawn for!
There were 5 segments at this event.
- Representatives from Oliver Wyman on their social impact scheme
- Dawn Newton on why Email Marketing was chosen as the topic
- Networking Activity
- Glyn Thomas on learnings from signing up to 100 charity newsletters
- Leah Waller answering GDPR questions
Dawn and Amy from Oliver Wyman (the consultancy firm that generously provided the space and refreshments) started us off by talking about the businesses’ Social Impact programme. Oliver Wyman supports charities and non-profits of all sizes across the full spectrum of causes through consultancy projects, skills training and trusteeships. Their support ranges from analysing operational resilience, to creating new business strategies, to providing analysis and insights on a range of topics.
In 2017, globally, Oliver Wyman employees volunteered over 30,000 hours, and carried out 86 Social Impact projects. It was great to hear how this scheme started out in 2014 as a small passion project of a couple of people in their London office, and it just goes to show how a couple of individuals can have a huge impact!
Dawn introduced us to the topic of Email Marketing and explained why she chose this topic:
She also shared some interesting stats around email usage:
These stats highlight how well email works as a channel for keeping in touch with your supporters. And it’s an invaluable method for keeping them warm to you!
Top tips on email marketing from Dawn:
- Don’t over promise and under deliver; if you say that a newsletter will be monthly stick to it. Choose a manageable frequency for your emails.
- Be a source of good news! There’s plenty of bad news in the world so share some positive stories that you have and remember to celebrate your successes.
- Check reports regularly to see how your emails are performing and if there are trends you can capitalise on.
- Always be optimising!
- Sign up for your own email newsletter to see what content is included and how it looks.
- Maybe ask colleagues from other teams to do the same so you can get feedback from a range of perspectives.
Dawn had split the audience up into 4 teams in advance (via card suits on our name badges!). Once we’d matched with the rest of our suit we were encouraged to form small groups and discuss our hobbies/hidden talents. I have to admit that the groups I was in got a little waylaid in talking about our day jobs! It was fascinating and although we didn’t exactly follow Dawn’s activity, I think we achieved her ultimate aim of getting strangers to chat happily with each other!
Dawn always includes at least 1 networking activity into the evening and they always succeed in getting people to chat to one another. Like a lot of people I’m not a natural born networker, but these activities help to break down barriers and get people chatting like long lost buddies over the pain of stakeholder management or the complexity of a grant application!
Next up was Glyn Thomas, who spoke about an experiment he did in which he signed up for 100 charity newsletters! Well, 98, 1 form didn’t work and 1 was too complicated to sign up to! His talk was peppered with startling facts like that and you can view his excellent, cat-filled slides here.
He talked about welcome journeys and how charities make the most of the first 8 weeks after someone has signed up for a newsletter. A welcome journey is a great chance to introduce your charity; as a starting point you can share your mission statement, the services that you offer and the ways that people can support you!
Only 50/98 charities had a welcome journey, with the rest either sending no welcome email at all, or sending no email of any kind!
It’s staggering how many charities didn’t send any email at all! An email list is such a valuable asset; it’s not something that should be allowed to gather dust in the corner.
Looking at newsletter frequency it shows that monthly just pips weekly to the most popular spot (19 vs 18). Remarkably 6 charities find the time to send 2 emails a week!
Is your email worthy of the Primary Inbox?
A gmail account is set up with various folders; the main one is the ‘Primary’ inbox which is mostly for personal emails and there are a number of others including the ‘Promotions’ inbox. The Promotions inbox is, as you can guess, mostly for company newsletters and around 50% of the charity emails ended up in here. Being visible in the Priority inbox would likely have a positive impact on CTR as there’ll be some people who won’t check their Promotions tab.
On the whole Glyn felt that the main difference between the emails in the Priority vs Promotions inbox was the level of personalisation. Personalisation can have a big impact on engaging your users as well, so it’s certainly a key area to explore.
5 top tips from Glyn:
- Test signup process regularly to check everything is working ok – remember to test different email clients.
- Keep email templates and designs simple, don’t overcomplicate things
- Email more frequently especially in first 8 weeks
- Include plenty of ways for supporters to engage with your content, so don’t just repeatedly send out donation asks
- Be strategic with donation asks. Use email to build a relationship with supporters before the donation ask.
For more details you can view his blog post on this topic.
Leah Waller then took to the floor to answer questions about the hot topic of GDPR. The new guidelines come into effect from May 25th which is just around the corner now, so if it’s not something you’ve started on yet you need to get your skates on!
Questions about the need for opt-in
Q – “We accumulated a list over time which we’ve been using for our newsletters. Periodically we remove people who don’t respond. Do they need to ask them to opt-in again?”
A – “It depends on how you got the data in the first place. If they opted-in to receive emails at the time then you can continue to email them – you need to be able to provide evidence that they opted in. If you are doing something to fulfil a contract then you could rely on this as the lawful basis for processing and you don’t need evidence of opt-in”
Q – “If we email our distribution list to ask them to opt-in and someone doesn’t respond but continues to open our emails can we continue to email them?”
A – “No, if you are relying on consent, you need their confirmation that they want to opt-in”
Q “We bought a mailing list, can we keep contacting them?”
A “Again this depends on how the data was collected. You need to be able to provide evidence that they opted-in to receive your emails. If not you won’t be able to contact them again.”
Q – “So do you need to send out email asking people to opt-in again if they did in the first place?”
A – “No, if you can provide evidence that they have opted-in you don’t need to do anything”
Q – “Data protection already exists so they were collected legitimately at the time. Is this not enough?”
A – “It depends on what your lists are and how they were collected. Opt-outs used to be fine, but not any longer, it’s now required that people have actively opted-in”
Questions regarding the data
Q – “How could we show users that the data we want to collect is necessary and will be beneficial to us (and them)”
A – “When collecting data you have to explain to them why you need it and how you’re going to use it; you should only ask for data that you actually need. Being clear on this can be helpful for both parties”
Q – “Should you tell people how long you’ll keep their data for?”
Q – “Do hard copies of data need to be destroyed”
A – “No, that’s not stated in the GDPR. There is a benefit to keeping things digital as it makes it much easier to process a subject access request.”
Q – “Does this affect charities internally”
A – “It applies to data on your employees and volunteers too. Consider what you’re holding, why and where.”
GDPR Q&A summary
Here are some of the key themes that came up from the Q&A.
- You need to have evidence of people having ‘opted-in’ and consenting to receive your emails, if you don’t have that then you’re going to have to ask them to do so, or stop contacting them.
- Accountability is really important – being able to prove consent and the reason why you have data. You should be clear on what you want the list for and how data will be used.
- This is actually a good opportunity to review what you’re doing with email and what you’re actually trying to achieve – quality contacts are better than a large quaantity of contacts that don’t engage!
- You need to be able to provide evidence of all the steps that you’ve taken to be compliant with the new guidelines
- It’s unlikely that you’ll be audited unless someone complains about you or you have to report yourself to the ICO due to a data breach.
- If you fall foul of the GDPR data breach then there are circumstances in which making a report is compulsory and this is where your evidence and accountability will be required.
If you work for a small charity and have concerns around this topic then take a look at the Small Charities Coalition advice on GDPR which might be of help.
This was a great event with lots of interesting content, actionable tips and networking opportunities. This Charity Meetup was on email marketing, but every event is different and they cater for a wide range of disciplines.