Increasing Open Rates with Donor Generated Content

When it comes to inspiration, the artist Pablo Picasso is attributed with saying, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” I’ll have to let you decide where this “new idea” falls. To give credit to where credit is due, I have to thank my friends at MediaPost for coming up with a killer new ad campaign that incorporates real testimonials from their subscribers.

Their concept is simple: provide potential advertisers with a window into the quality of subscribers that read their emails as an effort to promote email sponsorship opportunities. The execution of this strategy however, was nothing short of genius.

Step 1: Collect Testimonials, Pics and Permission
A couple of months ago I received an email from someone on the marketing team at MediaPost requesting an endorsement for one of their email publications. I was requested to submit a picture of myself, my job title and company name, and a short testimonial about my favorite MediaPost Newsletter. The email stated that my picture and testimonial may be used in one of their ads. Fine with me.

Step 2: Launch Ads, Watch Open Rates Soar
Okay, so who doesn’t like getting a little free face time in people’s inboxes? When the campaign first launched, I received emails from some colleagues and friends that saw the ads. And so now you can bet that I’m opening ever MediaPost email to see if my ad shows up. Brilliant.

What Would Picasso Do?
So, what can we “borrow” and “steal” from this campaign that can be applied to a fundraising scenario.

Well, let’s break it down:

  • Donor Generated Content Rules! When donors tell others what your organization means to them in their own words it often resonates better than any slick marketing line could ever do. The reality is that many people will find it easier to relate to the guy sitting next to them than the guy that’s standing in front of everyone. Use that to your advantage.

  • Donors Like Being Appreciated. A good way to measure someone’s heart is by looking at their checkbook. When people give, they are making a statement that they believe in this cause or organization enough to make an investment knowing that they may not receive anything in return. However, the one thing we can offer them is our gratitude. By highlighting your donors can build deeper relationships that last.

  • People Like Seeing Their Picture. I’m sure some folks are shy and would like to remain more anonymous, but most of us like getting a little attention every now and then. If you can get your donors to share their picture and agree to appear in a publication you may be surprised by the results. Using this approach in email is even more effective because it creates a viral effect—when donors see their picture and their story in an email from your organization, you don’t have to ask them to “Send-to-a-Friend”—they will!


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