Stagecoach Digital


As you look to develop a higher performing digital program, you come to the process with a focused set of goals: Enhancing your year-round messaging. Boosting your year-end revenue. Increasing your pool of sustainers. Expanding your mid-level program. Prioritizing stewardship. Unifying national and local email efforts. Elevating a gift guide. Building and maintaining a healthy and productive email list. Migrating your marketing efforts to a new email service provider. And of course, the bigger picture: creating a clear path to long-term digital success.

Deliverability Management

17% of email going to opted-in subscribers in the U.S never makes it to the inbox. For nonprofits relying on email marketing as a primary source of revenue, this can mean disaster: an immediate 20-30% loss in revenue if deliverability standards are not met and maintained.

At Stagecoach, we consider a 90% or higher inbox placement to be the benchmark for success. We use a variety of tools (Return Path, SilverPop Inbox Monitoring, Litmus, Campaign Monitor) to diagnose deliverability issues quickly and effectively, and we stay on top of deployment best practices to keep you on ISP whitelists long-term. We've rescued UNICEF and National Audubon Society from major deliverability crises, and we've logged an internal set of standards and fixes that keep us two steps ahead of ISP blockage.

When our clients were hit by industry-wide deliverability issues on the eve of their year-end push, we diagnosed the problem and swiftly helped them recover and not only met but exceeded campaign revenue goals, when so many other organizations logged steep declines.

Accelerated Sustainer Recruitment

Stagecoach has extensive experience developing multi-channel sustainer strategy, as well as providing and establishing the infrastructure required to optimize recurring revenue for long-term stability.

Our recent experience with the National Audubon Society's sustainer program is one such example: We took it from $785 in total monthly revenue in October 2017 to over $300,000 in monthly revenue in December 2020 — a jump of 38,000%. We can help you jump forward, too.

In order to optimize recurring contributions without compromising one-time gift revenue, we craft a careful audience analysis and segmentation strategy, considering such factors as qualification (what makes an ideal sustainer?), average one-time vs. monthly gift goals, one-time gifts per year (per-user basis), average donor value/lifecycle, and audience engagement. To drive upgrades and minimize attrition, we back our acquisition efforts with a robust approach to sustainer cultivation program that includes automated welcome series development, unique engagement strategy, limited fundraising messages, and special offers.

Mid-Level Giving Stewardship

We've helped major nonprofits establish the infrastructure and communication strategy necessary to activate, retain, and upgrade their mid-level user stream. When a simple error like deploying a sustainer offer or low-level gift guide item to this special pool of donors can cost an organization a lifetime of loyal giving, we know how important it is to steward this audience with intention and care.

Making sure these donors receive a stream of specialized content and communication is absolutely crucial to the health of your digital mid-level program. Recognizing the long-term value of these supporters, we give them a dedicated segment, customized automated series, proven ”best of” content, major offers, a special point of contact in your organization, and overall treatment that strengthens their bond with your cause and your work — and creates an accessible path to major giving.

Email Template Management

We developed the Stagecoach Email Machine as a brand-specialized email template builder that empowers organizations to create beautiful, responsive email content in-house for a variety of purposes and audiences, while allowing for high-volume management, cohesive brand identity, and integrated campaigning between local and national chapters.

The Email Machine makes it possible for large, cross-functional teams to efficiently create and deploy branded email messages from a variety of functional templates with minimal technical experience, while advanced and power users can benefit from a powerful backend that offers nearly infinite capabilities of design and UX adjustment. Messages can be easily managed for QA/QC within the Email Machine and loaded into any ESP system manually or via automated process, allowing for rapid scaling of message volume and internal capacity. And best of all, its template design flexibility and modular workflow mean that the Email Machine grows and scales when you do.

Modular Template Creation

Our approach to email design entails creating highly modular template builds for three core types of email message: appeal, engagement, and advocacy.

From these core types, most any type of message can be created and iterated upon, making smaller subsets like local chapter communications, gift site/premium promotion, and event follow-up themes easy to create and manage.

This modular approach to template design offers nearly endless flexibility in functionality and customization. This lets you produce an unlimited range of uniquely designed email messages, all under the umbrella of a cohesive visual identity. This will satisfy the need to serve varied local and national initiatives while avoiding the pitfall of each unit reinventing its own wheel.

The Click Imperative & Event Donor Reactivation

Given the volume of new email prospects coming from donor prospecting, a reliable methodology of converting event donors and non-donors will be vital to building a growth-driven and sustain- able email list.

We've developed a highly effective process for activating and converting prospects, event leads, lapsed donors, and constituents new to your email program. Our approach, centered on actionability, user behavior management, and engagement content, is as follows:

From the time a user is added to your email list, there is a 30-day window in which the ultimate value of that user will be decided. How that user perceives the value of your email (and consequently, the need to open it) will be established within the first few messages they receive. Given how important this moment is in their relationship, we would advocate for:

  1. Making every message actionable, and providing a thoughtful, clickable path to take from every email message deployed.
  2. Frontloading the first 30 days of messaging with user-specific (persona/sentiment-based) “best of” engagement content that meaningfully connects users with the most energizing content-training them, in effect, in consistent click behavior.

During this first 30-day window, no fundraising appeals are sent as we develop user behavior consistency-this is done to minimize the risk of early churn.

We call this philosophy the click imperative, and it's fundamental to our approach, as it will drive our core segmentation process after the new user onboarding period is complete.

Engagement and Advocacy Content Positioning

More than 75% of nonprofit email revenue comes from users who have opened or clicked a message within 30 days of the appeal they ultimately contribute to. An additional 10-15% of revenue will come from 90-day openers and clickers.

Engagement and advocacy content serve as the activation pipeline for fundraising, generating opens and clicks that populate the active segments of appeal content that bring in the lion's share of email revenue. Consequently, engagement blasts before major campaigns are exceedingly relevant to tentpole campaign strategy, while strategic positioning of advocacy content can quickly and effectively rally people around your cause during key moments.

To ensure that users maintain a regular behavior pattern, we don't let most audiences go more than 5-7 days without receiving an email message that encourages them to take action.

Expanding Campaigning

In order to maximize the efficacy of a 30-day click strategy, a reliable stream of major (tentpole) and minor campaigns should be running throughout the calendar year. The relationship of campaigns and engagement content should be symbiotic: The tentpole campaign provides an opportunity to reinforce core value propositions and successes from the rest of the calendar year, and also set the precedent for what's to come. At other times, non-tentpole campaigns, engagement, and advocacy messages provide opportunity to activate supporters, highlight and test new themes/issues, and move users along their respective journeys.

Stagecoach has deep experience leading the discovery, implementation, and expansion of both major and minor campaign themes. We've helped nonprofits identify and amplify thematic, occasion-based, and urgency-driven campaigns that promote organizational missions year-round and provide a reliable runway for major end-of-year giving endeavors.

We've helped major health organizations maximize the return potential of event-based fundraising before -- helping the Breast Cancer Research Foundation increase their Breast Cancer Awareness Month email revenue nearly 700% and expand health event-based messaging into March and April — and have maintained consistent tactical success with both major and minor event-based fundraising.

Occasion-based Gift Guide Marketing

Nothing shows you care like a gift that shows you care. Your Gift Guide gives you an authentic reason and a prime opportunity to reach out to your audience during occasions and events — those that are health- and family-themed as well as traditional gift-giving moments.

This tactic could fill the fundraising space between non-tentpole campaigns with an attractive alternative to traditional giving. Beyond event-driven campaigns, Gift Guide messaging could expand the reach of tentpole campaigns through Gift Guide pre- and post-campaign offers. And it could present complementary storytelling to heighten engagement and highlight your mission and impact.

We've helped organizations develop a distinct voice and market position for Gift Guide fundraising through a series of strategic endeavors: identifying the occasions most relevant to gift-giving and individual gift items, leveraging shipping deadlines for premiums to drive urgency, promoting e-cards as both an offer bonus and method of social sharing, and creating a unique schedule and visual identity for gift guide messaging that immediately signals how special the offer is.

Extending Automation

Automation, when added thoughtfully to an email program, doesn't replace traditional campaigning, but enhances it. As we've established in detail, fundraising conversion rises when a greater proportion of your list has recently clicked; automation can, for example, target users who haven't clicked in over 30 days and re-engage them with irresistible photos, urging them to see more with just a single click. Your email list will shrink when users become inactive by failing to open an email in over 12 months; automation can target 6-month non-openers and begin peppering their inbox with a series of your all-time most successful subject lines.

Traditional tentpole campaigns make a bet on finding (or attempting to create) moments in time when a large portion of your donors are ready to convert. However, automation allows you to fill in the gaps and use behavior to find moments important not to all users, but to specific ones. Non-donors with a spike in click or web activity show a propensity to give, regardless of time of year. Automation could target them with a timely series of asks. Users who gave a year ago (especially Gift Guide purchasers) on non-traditional dates may very well have been commemorating a birthday, a loss, or another annual event. An automated gentle reminder as that anniversary draws near would easily be worth the time it would take to create.

And that's just scratching the surface. The more data and behavioral information you have connected directly into your email platform, the more your options expand — and the better able you are to guide your users through their journey.

Machine Learning / Sentiment Analysis

To maximize audience insights, Stagecoach utilizes highly accurate machine learning and sentiment analysis techniques to categorize results among a targeted set of values, including emotional response, language composition, and thematic relevance.

While your organization has detailed constituent profiles with revenue distribution and lifecycle over a variety of parameters, we believe that connecting these findings to emotional sentiment triggers and specialized audience parameters would provide the greatest opportunity for long term growth and retainment.

Developing a Testing Playbook

Quarterly testing playbooks are foundational to Stagecoach's strategic approach, and are custom-fit to each client's respective needs and goals. Each playbook combines the learnings of our rapid multivariate testing with emerging industry trends and best practices, and consists of major feature ideations, tactics, and proposals for creating maximum impact for short and long-term revenue.

Implementation of testing playbooks ensures that all testing protocols are purposeful and working towards our shared goals, and that small-scale successes can be scaled into big picture innovations without surprise.

Recovery and Growth Planning

How do we find out what's not working for our clients, and how do we adjust when it's time to change course? Our goal modeling and growth planning process involves a three-point path to discovery:

  1. Identification of key program data points, internal constraints, and challenge areas
  2. Analysis of findings
  3. Recommendations on recovery strategy, goal setting, and organizational path for net growth

We recognize that simple trends in data often tell only part of the story. We analyze digital programs through a number of measures of success at several levels of granularity, and identify the performance indicators most aligned to your long term goals—as well any factors that may be holding you back.

Along those same lines, we realize that certain areas of difficulty don't show through data alone. So we empower teams through collaboration, user-friendly dashboards, and accessible toolsets — and that reduces friction that is sometimes all too human. Our approach bridges the how and why of data analysis--allowing organizations to maintain a fundamental understanding of what's working (and what isn't) among its audience and internally.

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