How does email design impact response in your emails? Often there are conflicting answers on blogs as different organizations experience different results when they change factors in their email marketing. In episode 4, Jeremy explores a question about graphics vs text emails and how you can test to determine the right factors to improve response for your nonprofit emails.


How does email design impact response? This is a great question that many organizations are really starting to ask of, how is the design of the emails really impacting the donations being raised, and impacting the relationships that you have with those donors? So today’s question we’re really going to dive into email design and what’s working and not working in the industry, and how you as an organization should test those things in order to find out what’s going to work with your donor base.

I have a question about email design. I read some articles that say I should have a related photo to maximize response, and other blog posts say to try sending text only emails to raise the most. What do you recommend? Thanks for your help. All the love from Austin.

Good day friend from Austin. Right now many nonprofit organizations are testing exactly what you’re asking this question, including at Food for the Hungry. Right now we’re testing what kind of design in email delivers the best performance. So as you said here, there’s blog posts out there that will tell you that you got to include a photo that’s related to the appeal in order to improve your response. There are other blog posts out there that will tell you that just sending out a plain text email or an HTML text email is going to lift response the most. To be quite honest, it really depends on your organization.

So, I’ve run some tests on certain types of email appeals at Food for the Hungry to a large list, and we found that the text emails perform better. In other situations, we found where designed emails performed better. I know an organization that has a little smaller list than we do and they’ve run some tests, and they found that designed emails perform better than all text emails.

So the answer is really it depends, and it’s something that you need to test. When I set up AB testing within our email and testing designs specifically, then I’m really only looking at testing one thing there and that one thing is a designed email versus a text email. You might test, there’s a number of things that you could test with that. You could test a designed email with the photo and without. You could test a designed with a photo versus a text email. You could test a text email that has a photo in it versus just a test email that has no photo in it.

But what you want to do is you want to run at least three tests across three different types of emails in order to best provide the responses that you need to make sure that the data that you’re seeing is going to be the most accurate for your list. There isn’t a one size fits all answer to your question of that I would say oh definitely go all text or definitely go all design, or definitely go with the photo or no photo, a logo at the top or no logo at the top. Really depends on your list and how your donors respond to your email.

You really need to pay attention to what are you looking at. Are you looking for changes in the number of clicks on your email to your landing page? Are you looking at changes in donation and really take into account which metrics are going to be the ones that decide for you which type of design is best for your organization.

So good luck as you do that, but I do recommend testing of your list and not just blindly following one blog post or another because in testing and the data that I’ve seen, it really depends on the organization as to what is working best right now. Take care.

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