Maximizing your results by trading direct mail for e-mail

In a recent non-profit case study published by Marketing Sherpa, the National Philanthropic Trust’s Breast Cancer Day compiled two lists, one for direct mail and one for e-mail, sent both similar creative, and then measured the results.  The results?

  • The Trust sent three e-mails to each person on the e-prospect list, and two direct mail pieces to each person on the direct mail prospect list.  The conversion rate for e-mail recipients was three times higher than that for direct mail recipients.
  • The open rates for their e-mails averaged 6.5% (As a comparison metric, this newsletter is sent only to people I have a direct relationship with and has an open rate of 35.8%, and Constant Contact reports a client base average of about 37%.  The nonprofit’s clickthrough rate for their campaign was 18%.  Total clicks for my newsletter are 53.7%, and Constant Contact reports a client base average of about 8.9%.
  • The overall ROI for the campaign increased 30%.

Over time the Trust should engage an analytics firm to help them determine which people in their supporter list are direct mail people, and which ones are e-mail people.  We work with a brilliant set of PhD’s in Chicago that do this for our clients, modeling responsive and non-responsive prospects and using that knowledge to increase campaign ROI.

Over time a good analytics engagement will show which people respond to which channel, so you can reach them in the most cost effective way.  People may respond to one channel and not the other, and while you want them to respond to the cheapest channel possible, it’s certainly true that if the cost of getting their financial participation is two direct mail pieces, then so be it.

Clearly, this is a good time to be working in e-mail fundraising.