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How to Know If your Potential Donor Opened your Cold Email

FundraisingEmailCommunicationsAccessible Technology

By: Maher Arar, CEO of CauseSquare.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about how you can find the email address of a potential donor, almost instantly.

Excited to have discovered such a tool, you may have looked up the email address of an important potential donor and spent the entire morning drafting and revising an email to send them.

But you realized there is no way to know whether this potential donor will open and read your email. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know whether or not you got their attention? Here are few benefits of this:

  1. Provided you wrote a relevant and attention-grabbing subject line, not opening your email means the target person is most likely not interested. This indicates you should probably email this person again in a week in case they didn’t notice the email - a likely scenario, especially if they're a sought-after personality.
  2. If the recipient opens the email, you can immediately follow up with a phone call while things are fresh in their mind (strike while the rod is hot).
  3. If the recipient opens it multiple times, or forwards it to others (the tool will tell you that too), it’s a good sign that there’s initial interest. This will help you devise the next steps towards acquiring this important donor.

Let’s just make a joint confession: you and I like email marketing tools such as MailChimp and Constant Contact because their built-in analytics provide us with a way to know who on our email list opened our weekly newsletter.

But using these email marketing tools to email one person is time-consuming and tedious to do. There a better way!

There are various web apps out there that allow you to track any email you send out from your email outbox. 

At CauseSquare, we have done the heavy-lifting for you: HubSpot Sales (formerly known as SideKick) is the one we recommend because it is powerful, feature-rich and affordable (free for up to 200 notifications per month).

The tool works best with Gmail as the web email client and Chrome as the web browser (by the way, Google offers free Google Apps accounts to eligible nonprofits, including Gmail email addresses with your organization’s domain).

The first step is to sign up for a free HubSpot account. Write down your credentials (login name and password), and ignore the dashboard you’ve been taken to for a moment (we will come back to it later).

Next, install the HubSpot Sales Chrome browser extension (learn how to install a Chrome extension). Once properly installed, a Hubspot icon will appear at the top right corner of your web browser as shown below.

Click on the icon and input your credentials when prompted. This now links your browser and your Gmail account to your HubSpot Sales account. Now you are ready to rock and track emails!

To do so, just login to your gmail account and click on the Compose button to start writing an email. As you may notice, you now have few options that weren't there before.

The top arrow points to a checkbox that allows me to log the email into my HubSpot CRM (this option won’t be available unless you opted to sign up for the CRM).

The bottom arrow points to a checkbox which has the HubSpot icon beside it. Checking this box tracks the email you are about to send (I recommend you only track important emails to stay under your 200 notifications per month limit. It’s $10 per month to increase that limit). If you check this box, you will notice the Send button to the bottom left turns orange. You are now ready to track this email.

Now open the draft email to that potential donor you have spent your entire morning writing. Make sure the box is ticked and then press the Send button - and wait for the magic to happen!

When the email is opened by the recipient, you will be instantly alerted by a small red square overlaid on the HubSpot icon at the top right side of the browser. If you send more than one tracked email, it will also indicate the number of times those emails were opened (including any opens from forwards the recipient made).

When you click on that icon you will see a list showing the exact time your emails were opened (see below).

For privacy reasons, I excluded the names of the people I have been in touch with. Note that if you send your email to multiple recipients, the software can’t tell who among them actually opened your email (see last item in the screenshot below).

You can tell how many times the recipient clicked on any URLs you included in your email.

You can also expand the views menu to see more details, like the location the email was opened at (country and city).

If you need to find out more about your emails, such as the ones that have not been opened, you can visit the HubSpot Sales dashboard and click on the "Sales Tools" menu. By clicking "Notifications", you can further investigate the emails you chose to track.

If you've read my previous blog post and the one here - and implemented what's in them - you can now officially call yourself an email-tracking guru. Go and boast about it on your social media networks. And don't forget: I will know if you don't :)

 About the Author

 Maher Arar is the CEO of CauseSquare, a  Canadian startup that provides nonprofits and  community organizers a gamified mobile platform  to make it easier for them to engage  Millennials in their causes. He has a PhD in mobile communications and frequently writes  about how nonprofits can leverage mobile technology to their advantage. He is the  recipient of many prestigious awards including the Time 100, Time Magazine 100 most  influential people in the world.