Random Thoughts on Life and Work

November 21, 2006

E-mail Segmentation

I receive a number of e-newsletters and e-updates from various charitable organizations.  It is a great way to stay in touch with various organizations and to monitor what they are doing to stay in contact with their constituencies.  On Monday this week, I received a Thanksgiving e-letter from MercyCorps which was very nice, but . . . 

Here is a copy of the e-mail I received.  It is a nice thank you note to me for supporting their mission through the year and for helping others recover from disasters, famine, etc.  While anyone should be grateful for being acknowledged by the organization, here is where the e-mail loses some of its effectiveness.

  • The e-mail is addressed to me personally.  This is a good thing.  In my book, there is nothing worse than receiving a note of thanks addressed to “Dear Friend” when they have my personal information.
  • The e-mail opens with “Here in the United States . . .”    When you sign up to be on their e-mail list, their form requests your postal code and country.  Whatever software they use to retain my address information should be able to facilitate the segmentation in such a way as to know that I live in the United States and use a different opening.
  • Second paragraph “You’ve helped us reach millions . . .”  and “. . . you’ve provided the resources . . .”  I am not a donor.  They should know that and it should be an elemental consideration to their communication strategy.  Donors receive one type of communication.  Non-donors, another. 
  • Consider when to use the “Tell a Friend” forwarding function and when not to.  While I would hazard a guess that in this case it is part of a standard template, I would recommend removing it from personal acknowledgement pieces.  I am not going to forward a personal thank you letter to all of my friends.  However, in this case I might consider utilizing a link “Tell others about the work of X organization” that sends a different kind of e-mail to my circle.  Especially if the e-mail has really made me feel warm and fuzzy about supporting the organization.
  • Now here is the stretch for any organization.  In paragraph five, the letter is generic in its description of specific programs that my support has facilitated.  Why not tailor it to the specific donations of the donors?  I realize the difficulty in doing this for donors that have supported multiple endeavors of the organization.  But if the e-mail is going to say “Your support . . .” make sure it is what the donor has supported.  Maybe your major donors should receive a different e-mail than your regular supporters.

I provide this as an example of how things might be done different/better.  Think through your communication strategy with your donors and non-donors and take advantage of the segmentation capabilities of your software.  If your software does not provide easy to use segmentation capabilities, then maybe it is time to look for new software. 

And please, if you support MercyCorps, please continue to do so.  They do great work around the world.

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