August 01, 2018

Mobile Email Marketing Chart: A look at the mobile and desktop email funnel for nonprofits


When we first published about nonprofit mobile email marketing performance, a reader wrote in and said, “I liked this. It would have been cool to also show the 4 [funnel] areas.”

So in today’s article, we do just that.

Read on to see the scorecard, along with tips for optimizing the weakest link according to the data — email capture.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute


A successful email marketing program has an optimized funnel of micro-yes(s). The specifics of those micro-yes(s) will be unique to every organization, but usually include elements like email opt-in, email open, email click, purchase, post-transaction communication, etc.

Fundraising consultants Dunham+Company recently analyzed the funnels of nonprofits. Let’s see how they performed, and what we can learn from it.

Study Methodology

Fundraising consultants Dunham+Company analyzed 46 key indicators across 151 American charities to assess the effectiveness of digital fundraising, and published what they learned in “Online Fundraising Scorecard 2.0: A National Study Analyzing Online Fundraising Habits & Donor Experience of Nonprofits.”

Over a two-month period, the research team analyzed the buyer’s (in this case, donor’s) journey — signed up for e-communications from these 151 nonprofits, monitored the inbox to study communications, made a $20 donation to each organization and analyzed the thank-you process. Then they watched to see what would happen next.

The research team used patented methodologies from MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) for the score criteria, specifically the Email Messaging Sequence, Email Effectiveness Index and Conversion Sequence heuristics. From the study …

Background: Scoring criteria from the online fundraising scorecard study

Let’s take a look at mobile optimization. The research team analyzed four areas:

  • Email Capture
  • Email Communications
  • Donation Experience
  • Gift Acknowledgement

Nonprofits could score up to 100% in each of the four areas and had an aggregate score across all four areas as well. The chart below shows the average score for all nonprofits across those four critical steps in the online fundraising process for the mobile experience specifically.

Chart #1: Online fundraising scorecard for mobile across all nonprofit categories, by funnel stage

“Overall, non-profits scored better in all categories for mobile,” said Jennifer Abohosh, Chief Digital Strategist, Dunham+Company.

This was the first year mobile was scored in the report. However, desktop was scored five years ago in the first version of this report. Here is a look at nonprofit email scores for the funnel, comparing 2013 to 2018.

Chart #2: Desktop fundraising scorecard across all nonprofit categories, by funnel stage and year

“You’ll see non-profits in general are getting worse at the best practices than they were five years ago,” Abohosh said.

And to take a closer look, let’s see how nonprofits in different categories are doing, along with the change compared to the first Online Fundraising Scorecard (OFS 1.0) in 2013.

Chart #3: Online fundraising scorecard for desktop, by nonprofit category

“The only ones that improved as a whole over 2013 are the Human Services and International Affairs sectors. These had a modest improvement. But, overall, the story is that non-profits still aren’t doing the basic best practices,” Abohosh said.

Optimizing email capture

Email capture is where the nonprofits struggle most, for both desktop and mobile, and they’re getting worse at it. Here are two checklists that can help you optimize your email capture and decrease both the perceived value and the perceived (non-monetary) cost of subscribing to your email list.

Checklist #1: Maximizing the perceived value of email capture

Checklist #2: Minimizing the perceived cost of email capture

In addition, the software you use can affect your ability to optimize email capture. “Don’t underestimate the importance of email and email capture software in streamlining your new subscriber growth,” advises Jordie van Rijn, email marketing consultant at emailmonday.

When selecting email marketing software, here are features van Rijn recommends you consider to streamline the lead/subscriber capture process:

  • Has or integrates very well with multiple out-of-the-box lead capture types. (slide in, hello-bar, download forms, etc.)
  • Email capture is fit to elegantly handle mobile visits.
  • Allows easy A/B testing and reporting on tests.
  • Able to send the first email in real or near-time after subscribing. Five minutes is too long.
  • Doesn’t require you to create friction in the form of double opt-in. Or at least lets you see the signup versus double opt-in conversion rates.
  • Automates a welcome email series, preferably with ways to personalize and act on preferences, profile and (in)activity.
  • Saves the opt-in source — the where and how you captured the new subscriber. This is a lawful requirement in many countries, but it’s also important to track and analyze your most successful sources and create contextual follow-up campaigns.
  • Allows people to get multiple lead magnets, download multiple whitepapers without overwriting, creating duplicate entries or other types of weird, unexpected trouble.

From his experience, van Rijn has seen that “a simple 10% more email capture means at least a 10% growth in first year email revenue. And at least a 10% decrease in Cost Per Lead (CPL).”

Related Resources

Email Marketing: Bundle of 6 checklists to optimize your email marketing

How To Think About Email Capture Forms Like A Customer: The two factors that will make or break your lead forms

Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate?

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