Worth Considering: Email’s older cousin comes to the rescue.

Worth Considering from Matt HuggHow old is an “old” e-mail in your in-box? Three hours? Eight? How about 24? How many e-mails are over two days old? In e-mail terms, these are the Methuselahs.

E-mail and its cousins like text messages and internal social network messages are great ways to communicate quickly and efficiently. But there’s a major point to consider before you hit the “send” button for your next solicitation: what’s this message’s “hang time.” How long will your carefully crafted e-mail stay in the prospect’s mail box, and if it’s there, will it get a positive response?

But even if it’s not immediately deleted, the clock is still not your e-mail’s friend. The life-cycle of an e-mail is counted in minutes. If you get a response, you get a response now, not days from now. So if you’re not getting responses, what’s the solution? Send more e-mail?

Ironically enough, no. You know the answer. Despite the fact that e-mail is a much shorter lived medium, social constrictions stop us from sending more of them. In early 21st century America, being an accused “spammer” is up there with “breaking and entering” if you were to believe the popular press – especially if the e-mail recipient didn’t ask for the mail.

So what comes to the e-mail’s rescue? Its low tech, older cousin, postal mail. Why? Because postal mail stays on your prospect’s desk longer than an e-mail stays in an “In Box.” How much longer? Take your own survey based on your own mail and e-mail, but I’d say hundreds to thousands of times longer.

So is e-mail worthless? Not at all. The more gifts you can get by e-mail the more money you save, not just in mailing, but in gifts processing costs. After all, your donor is doing much of the data input by entering the gift information themselves.

What you need to do is back up your e-mail with paper mail. Use the same themes and maybe the same images. Coordinate each with the other so when someone gets your paper mail they remember the e-mail, and when they get the e-mail they can act on the paper. It can be a powerful combination.

Of course, I’m biased. I can write both your e-mail and paper mail solicitation. But whether you use me or do the work in-house, remember that e-mail works best with its older cousin paper mail, than it does alone.

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