I am proud and humbled to have led a team of incredible email marketing professionals in a volunteer effort to help a charity through the DMA’s Email Experience Council annual “Eality” nonprofit initiative. This year, the small but scrappy Women’s Bean Project of Denver, Colorado was selected. The Women’s Bean Project helps disadvantaged women gain life and job skills by making bean soups, brownie mixes and other goods for sale online and through retail partners. When we started the project last August, there was no email program. When we officially closed the effort last week, there was a program – and not only were email newsletter subscribers viewing two times the number of pages views than other customers, we nearly collapsed the organization’s production capacity with a Mother’s Day email promotion that sold 85 baskets in a week.
Like all great projects, this was a good learning experience for me. Three things stand out:
1. The power of email is in bridging the gaps. The Women’s Bean Project always had a slump in sales over the summer for two reasons. First, despite a full product line of sweets and spice rubs, the main product line is soup and few of us eat soup in summer no matter how good the cause is. And second, because the Women’s Bean Project would stop marketing during this slower season to save expenses. This year is different. Email is so cost efficient and powerful that it allows the promotion machine to keep turning and can easily fill the gap in sales over the slow months. The Women’s Bean Project executives could not be more excited. This is exactly what so many of us in the for-profit world do with email — we fill the gap each quarter (or month, or week) to make up for sales not generated by other channels. Although in this case, the subscriber experience is still optimized at one to two messages per month, and we hope to help the Women’s Bean Project test different cadences around holiday and party times in order to optimize sales.
2. If you are going to attempt something like this, do it with an amazing, inspiring volunteer team. We had that and then some. Together we debated, we pushed, we pulled (“yank” might be a better term!), we laughed and we celebrated. My personal and professional gratitude to the following:
We also got great support from Chad White and Jeanniey Mullen of the DMA/eec team. I can’t thank each of you enough. Thank you for all you taught me, and for the opportunity to work together on something important.
And many kudos to the Women’s’ Bean Project team for their support and willingness to work with us and take our advice.
3. I highly recommend Cindy’s Sinfully Chocolate Brownies at www.womensbeanproject.com.