How a nonprofit uses email to inspire action and build a legacy

July 31, 2015 McKenzie Gregory

Dr. Jane Goodall’s trailblazing 55-year study of wild chimpanzees opened a window into a previously unknown world: the strange but uncannily familiar lives of primates. But though she’s best known for her research, today Jane works to inspire action on behalf of endangered species and encourage individuals to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment we share.

The Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall’s groundbreaking work with chimpanzees,” explained the Institute’s director of community engagement, Shawn Sweeney. “But we also work quite a bit with the local people in Tanzania. We help improve their health and livelihood so they can partner with us to help protect Gombe National Park. Their help is critical, because habitat destruction is the #1 cause of the chimpanzee’s decline.”

The Institute’s efforts also extend far beyond the Congo Basin though global programs like Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. The program – which includes more than 150,000 members in over 130 countries – reaches out to young people in the hope of building a generation that’s fully aware of its environmental impact and responsibilities, a mission that’s critical to the continuation of Goodall’s ideals.

Spreading the word through email marketing

To raise awareness (and help gain donations) for its many projects, the Jane Goodall Institute turns to email. “Our email messaging falls into three different categories: First, we send emails that work toward the acquisition of donations to fund our programs and research. We also craft messages that encourage stewardship of our current donors and help them learn more about what their funds are supporting. Finally, we use email to help coordinate our program efforts, like Roots & Shoots."



From HIV/AIDs prevention to agroforestry and land-use planning, the Institute devotes itself to a number of meaningful causes. "Jane is really well known for her research on chimpanzees,” Shawn noted, "but we want people to understand that she’s so much more than that. We want people to know that our organization is doing amazing things and taking action with communities in so many different ways – and email is one of our best methods to do that.”

But since the Institute’s work goes in so many different directions, being able to capture people’s interests and send them content that’s directly relevant to them has proven really difficult for Shawn. The list of subscribers they've collected includes an extremely diverse group of individuals: people involved in children’s outreach programs, scientists, philanthropists, volunteers… all of whom have very different interests and need to be served very different sorts of content.

“It’s been difficult for us to capture subscriber interest and tailor content to their needs. I think that figuring out how our lists can become more dynamic, taking some of the manual work out of it and putting more control into the hands of our subscribers is something we’re really working toward – we just haven’t gotten there quite yet."

Finding solutions to capture subscriber attention

When it comes to tailoring their content to the needs and interests of their individual subscribers, Shawn has found that audience segmentation helps do the trick. The Jane Goodall Institute’s marketing team has created 47 different segments that group their subscribers by engagement, donation amount, location… you name it! And using those segments has really helped skyrocket their open and click rates: Emails they send to smaller, segmented groups have nearly three times the open and click rate of non-targeted emails.

And to help take their email marketing to the next level, Shawn recruited the aid of our services team. “We knew we needed some help. In particular, we had heard about all the benefits of using an automated welcome series and wanted to set one up for our account. So I got in touch with Emma Mathews, and the whole thing was really enlightening. She gave us really in-depth information about how to achieve our goals, how our account was performing and other things we could change: short term, immediate solutions we could easily implement as well as other ones that were a little more long-term and complex. She was really comprehensive and helped us figure out all the specific things we needed to do to get our account in the right place.”

On the path to raising greater awareness

After getting a little help from the Emma services team, Shawn feels that the Jane Goodall Institute is in a much better place when it comes to their email marketing. “The consultation with Emma Mathews was exactly what we needed. We’ve been with Emma since 2007, but the extra help and knowledge of best practices gave us the push we need to start moving in the right direction.”

The takeaways

1. Subscribers expect personalized content tailored to their interests and needs. Relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails (Juniper Research), so be sure to treat your email recipients like the individuals they are.

2. Audience segmentation is a great way to send more targeted messages. Segment your audience using customer data you’ve collected and watch your open and click rates skyrocket.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Emma’s services team is ready to assist with anything you might need – just give us a shout!

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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