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How to Connect your Email List with Social Media for Nonprofits

by Christine Schaefer, VP of Community and Marketing, Salsa

Does your nonprofit marketing wishlist look anything like this one?

  • You dream of finding masses of new supporters efficiently
  • You’d jump for joy if you could cultivate a meaningful relationship across multiple marketing channels and boost activism, donations, and volunteers
  • You’d give your right arm to identify and connect with your most active and loyal supporters
  • And, of course, inspire word of mouth activity using the power of your network

Sound familiar?

Well, social media has long promised to deliver on many of the points on this wish list. However, while social media offers a useful platform for getting to know your fans and spreading the word about your cause, it isn’t always the easiest of places to get heard, raise funds, or drive actions.

So how can you shortcut this game? It starts with good old fashioned email.

Email has had some bad press over the past few years, but it still delivers the highest return on investment of any marketing channel ($40 for every $1 spent). All great news, but email marketing still has it’s challenges, open rates remain problematic, with only 9 out of 10 emails getting the attention you’d hope for, and click throughs don’t fare much better either.

Clearly, when used alone in their own silos, both email and social media have their pros and cons, but when the two channels combine (the technical term is called “social appending”) the results can be pretty awesome. Let’s take a look at how this is happening, why, and the benefits to your nonprofit.

Why Email and Social Had To Come Together

The first step towards growing your nonprofit’s supporter base and driving deeper engagement starts, as with all marketing, by getting to know your supporters and sending them stuff that they find useful. In the past, learning as much as you could about the folks in your email database meant relying on surveys, complex sign-up forms, as well as email clicks and open rates. All good stuff, but the results only yield a fairly narrow view of your supporters for effective targeting.

In the meantime, over on social media, you have a variety of platforms for getting to know and engage your supporters, in a way that traditional, push-marketing email methods could never make possible.

But, just imagine if you could use social data to add another layer of intel to your email list and further refine your targeting and content relevance?

“Social appending” has made this a reality.

What is Social Appending?

Social appending lets you add or “append” your nonprofit email database with social media addresses and other social data - giving you the kind of insight about your email subscribers that you could previously only have dreamed. For example, say someone in your email list donated to your “Save the Sea Turtles” campaign a year ago, social data about that same person can tell you what’s on their mind today and what else they’re passionate about.

By integrating what you know about your supporters on social media with the emails you send them, social appending makes it much easier to tailor your messages to certain individuals or groups and connect and engage with them across multiple channels, breaking down those pesky silos that separated your email and social media outreach in the past, and blow your click through rates out of the water!

How Social Appending Works

The idea behind integrating your social media and email data is quite simple. A social append tool (coming soon to Salsa) imports your email database and returns a multitude of information about your subscribers based on their social media activity. You’ll get to know your supporters demographics, occupation, location, interests, brand affinities, as well as where they hang out socially online and who their friends and influencers are.

What does this mean for nonprofits? Here are just a few of the benefits of social appending:

  • Learn which of your supporters are on social media and the networks they favor. Need to make a case for investing time in social media? This data will help. It can also tell you which networks you should be allocating your resources to. Furthermore, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter appeal to different audiences. People come to their preferred site expecting different experiences, knowing where your supporters are is a great way to learn about the types of interaction and content they prefer.
  • Identify your most loyal supporters. Social data can tell you who your super-fans are, i.e. those who support you across multiple channels. Using social append tools you can geo-target these loyal supporters by grouping them in your email software and tailoring communications and specific campaigns to them, such as high ask appeals or volunteer recruit drives.
  • Compare the behaviors of engaged and un-engaged supporters or slacktivists. How does the social behavior of your active donors and volunteers compare to those who show support but rarely act? The difference between the two groups can help your adjust your new donor/volunteer appeals messaging accordingly, you can also use the data to go after other potential supporters with similar profiles and behaviors.
  • Monitor real-time social media conversations by your email subscribers. Sounds creepy, but imagine being able to fire off an ask to a specific supporter or group when a Twitter conversation mentions keywords, hashtags or anything else related to your cause!


Social + Email in Action


This is just the tip of the iceberg, but clearly you can see how adding this whole new social layer makes it possible to connect and engage with your audience across multiple channels in some pretty exciting ways.

Topics: Marketing