Learn how using email at strategic points in the marketing lifecycle can help your business nurture leads, drive conversions and maintain a loyal customer base.
Year after year, purpose-driven organizations face the same dilemma: Which marketing channels are worth investing in?
Whether you’re trying to bring in those final donations to meet your end-of-year fundraising goal or looking to increase leads during the off-season, you need your marketing strategy to make the most of every dollar you spend. For purpose-driven businesses and nonprofits, email marketing is key to success–and still very relevant, despite being the OG of digital marketing.
With an average return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent, email marketing has one of the highest ROIs of any outreach strategy. And as a highly targeted tactic, email can directly appeal to specific audiences at different stages of the marketing lifecycle, making it a valuable all-in-one tool for accomplishing your business goals.
For email to deliver the results you want, you need a strong strategy that integrates with a larger content plan and considers all relevant touchpoints in the customer journey. Read on to learn how it works.
Why Do You Need an Email Marketing Strategy?
Many people wonder if email is still relevant because it’s an old-fashioned digital channel and shinier, new platforms like TikTok are all the rage. But email is far from dead. As of last year, the global number of email users sits at around 4.3 billion, over half the world’s population—and that number is projected to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025. For nonprofits, email marketing was a huge driver of funds, generating a cool 14% of all online revenue.
Email stands out from more modern content marketing channels due to its unique ability to segment audiences and tailor content to their particular interests and behaviors. This makes it a highly versatile medium for everything from launching cornerstone campaigns to building and maintaining a loyal customer base.
Under the larger umbrella of a strong content marketing strategy, email works together with your other marketing channels to create a 360-degree approach that attracts and retains customers throughout the marketing lifecycle—starting with their very first engagement with your organization. To maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy, you need to know the core touchpoints where customers interact with your organization.
What Are Lifecycle Marketing Touchpoints?
Lifecycle marketing touchpoints are specific points in the customer journey where an organization needs to engage customers to meet their needs. When you time interactions across marketing channels with these touchpoints, you can more easily transition customers from one stage of the marketing lifecycle to the next while increasing brand awareness, driving conversions and growing a loyal customer base. Email marketing plays an important role in accomplishing these goals at each touchpoint.
There are five core touchpoints—more broadly known as stages—that make up a lifecycle marketing plan:
In this stage, your focus should be on attracting as many people in your target audience as you can. This is where you work to position yourself as a reliable source of information about the products or services your customers are searching for and create quality content to draw their attention. Tap into your audience’s needs and provide them with answers or solutions to their problems through blogs on your website, paid ads, social media posts or any other medium where they are tuned in.
As you work to boost your online presence with your content strategy, email can take it to the next level–but first, you must entice potential customers and members to subscribe to your list. Dedicating one or more social posts per month to promoting your newsletter can help you attract subscribers on a regular basis and build up your brand community. An organized 12-month social media roadmap can factor these types of posts into your monthly content cycle.
Now is your chance to plant the seeds that will grow into loyal relationships and keep both new and longtime customers engaged. After you’ve pulled in new email subscribers from other marketing channels like paid ads or social, make sure you don’t leave them hanging! Studies show that 83 percent of customers expect immediate engagement after contacting a brand, which means your contacts may quickly ghost you if you don’t open a line of communication right after they hit subscribe.
Once a person joins your mailing list, welcome them to your community with an automated introductory email—or, better yet, enroll them into a welcome email workflow. This series of emails typically starts with a personalized greeting and maintains engagement with follow-up emails about your organization and resources on your core offerings. This is an easy way to make subscribers feel like a valuable part of your community while showing them how your services, products or resources can benefit their lives.
(Pro tip: Linking out to existing content or resources can also drive traffic to your website.)
This stage is all about turning prospects into customers, donors or supporters of your organization. Email campaigns often see the most success in driving conversions for fundraising appeals or event registrations. This is because you are directly appealing to an audience that has already expressed interest in your resources, services or events. Plus, email doesn’t have to battle the changing algorithms of social platforms to get in front of those same people.
For example, one of our clients–a national healthcare nonprofit–promotes their monthly webinars through three social posts and three emails throughout the month. On average for this client, webinar registration links in emails get six times as many clicks as those in posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined. And remember how we said email marketing drives 14% of all online revenue for nonprofits? The M + R benchmark study for 2023 found that in 2022, nonprofit organizations sent an average of 60 emails per subscriber, with fundraising appeals accounting for over half. Setting up automated fundraising emails that go out weekly or monthly can help you multiply the revenue you receive from other channels.
You can’t create a loyal community of supporters if you have sub-par customer service. After new customers and supporters have transitioned into the conversion stage by making a purchase, attending an event or donating to your mission, you need to sustain and nurture that engagement with follow-up communications.
Email is great for this because you can personalize your message based on specific interactions that different audience segments have had with your organization. For example, you may set up an automated email to thank your list of donors for participating in your fundraising campaign. Or send an event recap email to webinar registrants who recently attended to show your appreciation and promote future events and resources they may find valuable.
This is also a good time to remind subscribers about the exclusive benefits of being part of your email list. Sharing offerings like early-bird registration or email-exclusive deals are simple, effective ways to convince your contacts to stay subscribed.
So, you’ve done the work of building up an audience of supporters—the loyalty stage is when you make sure they remain long-term advocates of your brand. Consistently delivering relevant, quality content is paramount to fostering loyal relationships, and email is the perfect channel for getting this content in front of the right audience segments.
In the loyalty stage, you should send targeted emails that remind active and lapsed members about the value of services or products they have purchased from you. These follow-up emails may include resources they’re likely to benefit from based on their engagement history or notifications about upcoming events. Sending this information via bi-montly or monthly newsletters is an excellent strategy to keep your organization top of mind. We draft a monthly newsletter for a national neurology foundation that averages a 35% open rate, above the industry standard of 20-25%. This tells us that the foundation has a loyal audience that consistently wants to engage with our content.
Newsletters are a simple yet effective way to show your members or customers that you value their loyalty. And when it’s time to ask for something—such as a donation or ticket sales for an event—your target audience doesn’t feel like the ask is coming out of nowhere, because you’ve already been engaging them with quality, relevant content.
Email is a core part of any content marketing strategy, but identifying the right touchpoints to maximize your business goals takes time and careful planning. As your marketing partner, Yakkety Yak thinks of everything so you don’t have to. We will work with your existing email marketing program to craft templates, deploy emails and set up automation to seamlessly integrate it into your overall content plan.
Contact us to see how we can build you an email marketing strategy that hits the mark at every stage in the marketing lifecycle.