Email automation, or autoresponder email sequences, are one of the most exciting, and most underutilized, fundraising tools I’ve come across. Automations have been around for a while now and have the potential to revolutionize your fundraising and marketing.

Most not-for-profits regularly use an email marketing tools like MailChimp. But many do not realize that for a small price, MailChimp goes much further than sending a simple monthly update. Automations allow you to send out individually tailored emails in sequence, based on a customer’s clicks.

Automations are something all marketers should consider using a lot more. This is true particularly in small organizations where staff, and human resources, are at a premium.

For example, say someone clicks on a link to an article about giving a bequest. You can then automatically categories that person as being interested in bequests. So over a time period, you can send a series of emails to warm them up towards giving a bequest.

The possibilities to both automate, and personally tailor, messages for your supporters are only limited by your imagination.

Sequences might include regular giving, bequests, birthday acknowledgement or donor education about various projects. You can also grow your membership by setting up a one-off email to convert them into being a member of your organization. All this, through MailChimp’s automation process or one of the many similar services.

The next generation of automation marketing

I’ve recently moved over to Active Campaign for my email communications. They provide a tool allowing you to cut and paste a snippet of JavaScript which tracks your email reader’s movement on your website. Going beyond clicks, this enables you to trigger emails based on what pages the reader goes to.

So, this means if they land on the bequests page, you can trigger the email sequence about bequests. If you have new subscriber, you can use automations to take them on a journey over a sequence of communications to donate or buy from your organization.

One not-for-profit I’m aware of here in Australia uses email automation in the way described above. After someone becomes a donor, they receive a series of communications over a six-week period. Then, they receive a call to action to become a regular giver. This takes the donor beyond one off giving, into regular ongoing support. Perhaps that’s how you can use automations?

On top of all that, Active Campaign allows you to categories readers. Over time, you can even give them scores about how engaged they are, or how unengaged, and trigger communication accordingly.

DIY Automations, Do It Yourself!

It does take some effort to get your head around it. And there will also be some time in planning writing and design up front. But what I love about marketing automation is once you have put in the initial upfront work, that communication series will continue to provide value for years.

It’s simple to start a paid account for MailChimp. With a small database, a very reasonable outlay of $13 gets you started. At around $29, Active Campaign is also quite inexpensive, but offers many more automation options.

From my perspective, both marketing automation services are very worthwhile resources. Therefore, I highly recommend you take advantage of one or other of them.

By all means, have some fun with automations! Make sure you come back and let us know what you decided to do and how it’s working for you. Just add your thoughts in the comments below.