1 THE 2015 NONPROFIT DELIVERABILITY STUDY HOW MUCH DOES SPAM HURT ONLINE FUNDRAISING?
2 ABOUT THE AUTHOR With more than a dozen years managing and consulting for some of the largest issue advocacy organizations in the country, Brett Schenker is regarded as one of the industry s leading experts on and deliverability. Schenker has worked on everything from advising associations, nonprofits, and multi-million dollar corporations on technology solutions and strategy. He has been a featured speaker at NTEN s Nonprofit Technology Conference, Rootscamp, and FUSEcon. Schenker is the Deliverability Specialist at EveryAction, where he educates national nonprofits, associations, and labor unions on best practices and future trends. Further, supports organizations with reputation management, mitigating blocks, and preventing other deliverability issues. He has helped countless organizations raise more money online by implementing his strategies for deliverability. Schenker s past experience also includes work as Deliverability Specialist for Salsa Labs and Internet Director and Database Administrator for national and statewide campaigns, including Presidential campaigns.
3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
4 is the cornerstone of many nonprofits online fundraising programs. Nonprofit marketers have never had more powerful tools than they do today and fundraising accounts for about a third of online fundraising revenue 1. However, most nonprofits programs raise substantially less than they could due to an often overlooked metric: the percentage of that actually makes it to recipients inboxes. We call this deliverability. Nonprofit marketers and communications professionals often report on list size, open rates, click rates, pageviews, and money raised through channels. Deliverability affects each one of these metrics substantially. deliverability is a metric for the rate of success you have at getting your messages into people s inboxes. It s affected by a lot of factors, with spam and spamrelated things generally being the primary ones. For the 2015 Nonprofit Deliverability Study, we analyzed 55 leading national nonprofit organizations with lists of 100,000 or more. We selected nonprofits using a variety of ESPs ( service providers) so that the results would be applicable to the nonprofit community at-large. Our research revealed that deliverability is a huge problem across the nonprofit community. 1 in 8 nonprofit s never reach an inbox. The percent of never making it to inboxes is almost as high as the percent of s opened. That is a frightening state of affairs for deliverability. EveryAction has special tools and a dedicated team focused on tracking inbox delivery trends and best practices. We ve worked with national nonprofits to significantly increase their deliverability, creating substantial gains in fundraising. In this report, we will share common causes of poor deliverability, the findings from our study, and a few easy ways you can improve your program.
6 WHY WOULD YOUR MESSAGES BE SENT TO SPAM? Internet Service Providers (ISPs) determine whether or not your is delivered based on the reputation of the IP address from which your is sent. If an ISP notices that s you send are marked as spam, junk, deleted immediately without being read, never opened, or not engaged with in general, they may begin routing your to spam folders, or worse, completely blocking you as a sender. Once your IP address has been flagged by an ISP as a bad sender, it can take months or even years to recover. : (
7 COMMON CAUSES OF A HIGH SPAM RATE 1 Not including a single-click unsubscribe link. If you make your unsubscribe process difficult, you re running the risk of a user simply marking your message as spam instead, which is far more harmful to your deliverability than unsubscribing. Always include a single-click unsubscribe link in all your s. 2 Using an out-of-date list. People change their addresses fairly regularly. If your has never been opened by an address, or you haven t received a response from an in 6 months, it s likely outdated and should be removed from your regular send list. 3 Sending irrelevant . If you are sending the same to your entire list, you re likely not providing relevant content to everyone. Segment your list, use dynamic content, and merge tags to make your s more personal. If you ve sent over 3 unopened s to the same address, either they aren t interested in what you have to say, or they ve changed their address.
8 HOW MUCH DOES SPAM COST?
9 WHAT S TO GAIN FROM IMPROVING DELIVERABILITY? 14.01% in fundrasing revenue. That s the potential increase in fundraising revenue for a nonprofit sending 24 fundraising asks a year with a 100,000 person list. On average, a nonprofit loses $14, each year due to spam (See Figure 3). While much of the marketing conversation revolves around list sizes, open rates, and clicks, the amount and impact of messages not delivered or delivered to the spam box is largely overlooked.. In a study of 55 organizations, EveryAction found that, on average, 12.29% of was delivered to spam folders monthly during June saw the highest spam rate (14.82%) and November, the lowest (8.03%). There was a massive range in spam rates among the 55 organizations. One saw a staggering 65.13% of its tracked going to spam while another saw just 0.49%. These were nationally recognized nonprofits with substantial programs.
10 SPAM, OPENS & SENDS BY MONTH FIGURE 1. Figure 1 shows how the average spam rate of 12.29% is distributed over the course of a year, month by month. The average number of blasts sent per month for each nonprofit is included on the right x axis, along with open rates and spam rates on the left. According to our benchmark giving data 2, every percentage point of going to spam results in a loss of $1, annually, as the impact of spam makes itself felt in every metric from open rates to page completions. Every undelivered is a lost opportunity for supporters to take action, raise their voices, volunteer their time, and donate to your cause. 1% SPAM= $1, LOST PER YEAR
11 THE DATA To determine how much money nonprofits lose annually from fundraising asks going to spam, we began with the scenario of a nonprofit with 100,000 person list sending two fundraising asks per month. From our interviews and qualitative analysis, this seemed like reasonable starting point. We then used the benchmark open rate, click rate, page completion rate, and average one-time donation amount from M+R s Nonprofit Benchmarks Study 3 to calculate the expected revenue from a year s worth of fundraising. The spam rate affects the amount of s that actually make it to the inbox, which then subsequently affects the total money raised. The chart below illustrates three scenarios for lists of 100,000 people sending 24 fundraising messages annually: 0% spam rate (or 100% inbox deliverability), 1% spam rate, and the average 12.29% spam rate. Some organizations may have a smaller list, send more fundraising asks, or have different opens, clicks, page completions, or average donation amount from the chosen benchmarks. However, the figures below demonstrate that spam has a direct relationship to total money raised from fundraising. FIGURE 2. 0% SPAM 1% SPAM 12.29% SPAM INBOX 2,400,000 2,376,000 2,105,040 OPEN RATE (16.35%) 392, , ,174 CLICK RATE (0.4%) 9,600 9,504 8,420 PAGE COMPLETION (22%) 2, ,852 TOTAL RAISED (AV. DONATION $57) $120, $119, $105,588.81
12 FIGURE 3.
13 FIGURE 3. CONT.
14 According to a Case Foundation report 4, an estimated $45.7 million was raised offline and online on #GivingTuesday in 2014, growing donations from the previous year by 63%. That s in contrast to U.S. Black Friday sales which dropped 11.3% and Cyber Monday sales increased a less than expected 8% 5. In 2014, for the 55 organizations studied, #GivingTuesday saw an average of 11.63% of fundraising messages go to spam. That s slightly better than the average of 12.29%, despite the fact that nonprofits are sending more than double the volume of s - an average of 2.29 each, as opposed to less than 1 for a normal day. #GIVINGTUESDAY saw an average of 11.63% of fundraising messages go to spam. While there was a smaller amount of going to spam on #GivingTuesday, the sheer volume of those s still represent a huge amount of dollars lost. And of course for nonprofits, every dollar counts. Using our research and benchmark 6 figures, we found that a nonprofit with a list of 100,000, the average spam rate of 12.29%, and sending the average of s loses $1,413 on #GivingTuesday to spam. What does this mean for your organization? #GivingTuesday remains a key date in your fundraising calendar. Organizations that send a significant amount of around #GivingTuesday or have a higher donation per amount for that campaign could be losing even more money than they realize from spam rates.
15 WHAT CAN ORGANIZATIONS DO TO IMPROVE THEIR DELIVERABILITY?
16 1 Opt-in and confirm: Not only should you be explicitly asking individuals if they d like to opt into your list, you should also send a follow up to confirm their address is correct. People mistype addresses. Sometimes they feel forced to provide an address. By opting-in addresses and confirming them, you ensure the person on the other end absolutely wants to hear from you. 2 Ramp up your messaging with a welcome series : A welcome series is a great indication of what you can expect from your subscribers in the future. A study by ReturnPath says that People who read all three messages read 69% of the brands going forward; people who read none continued to ignore the brand s messages, reading only 5%. 7 3 Focus beyond opens and clicks: senders have only a few metrics to go by when it comes to measure how successful campaigns are: the opens, clicks, and conversions. service providers look beyond these metrics and measure activity to the individual. Every organization should be focusing more on how individuals react, testing engagement with subject lines and content, and looking at how various segments perform. 4 Focus on who isn t getting the message: Explore why bounces are occurring, and what you can do to remediate them. If bounces happen more than 2 or 3 times, remove the adresses in question. Repeated bounces can cause alarm bells to ring with service providers. 5 Focus on inactives: Inactive addresses are individuals who have not opened or clicked an in more than 1 month. Individuals who drop off in interaction, or don t interact at all, should be messaged differently with a focus on getting them to re-engage. If they continue to be inactive for more than a year, then it s time to remove them from your list. ISPs can turn dead addresses into spam traps, marking all s to that address as spam and seriously hurting your sender reputation. 6 Work with your provider: Your provider can give you information about your deliverability, sender reputation, and more that isn t always accessible from your end. At EveryAction, we like to address any deliverability issues before they get out of hand - in the case of , an ounce of prevention is worth a couple of tonnes of cure. A good provider should work with you to monitor key deliverability metrics like SenderScore, as well as acting quickly to fix problems like blocks and blacklisting before they get out of hand.
17 Spam might seem like a hard metric to influence - but it s critical. A couple of simple tweaks can improve deliverability, and unlock huge benefits.
18 REFERENCES: 1, 2, 3, 6. Benchmark statistics from M+R s 2014 Benchmark ( research/the-2014-nonprofit-benchmarks-study) 4, 5. Case Foundation Report ( 7. A New Welcome Message Study - Find Your Best Customers, Stephanie Colleton, (
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