Campaign of the Month

Blue Cross creates personalized donor journeys with email automation

Charities have to work hard to retain their donors. Blue Cross realized that having an automated welcome program is just the first step, so they took it to the next level with conditional content and conversion tracking to truly personalize the experience.

Brand: Blue Cross
Developed by: Craig Billing 

Campaign details

Subject line: Welcome to Blue Cross
Open: 63% in initial campaign
Open: 54% in welcome program


What data was used?

The campaign is sent to all new donors.


  • personalize the experience of new donors to improve supporter retention
  • monitor the donor journey right from the start

What makes this a performing campaign?

Based on their most popular television ad featuring a dog called Baxter, Blue Cross decided to apply the same strong imagery and copy to their welcome emails, playing on the emotional aspects of the campaign. But they knew that it takes more than that to keep donors engaged with a cause, so they looked at improving the whole donor journey.

By analyzing their Email Client Report in MessageFocus, Blue Cross knew that 62% of their audience opens their emails on a mobile device. Using a mobile responsive template and making the most of the pre-header text were therefore must-haves. They created a welcome email for first-time donors and focused on making them feel important by personalizing their experience.

First, they used the donor’s first name in the pre-header text – ‘Amanda, thank you for your donation’ – which also complements the subject line ‘Welcome to Blue Cross’. In this way, without even opening the email, the recipient is aware of the purpose of their email. Taking the personalization one step further, Blue Cross also used conditional content to automatically insert the value of their donation in the email.

However, this campaign is just the beginning of their welcome series focusing on the donor journey. The welcome email is followed by a waiting period of 20 days, after which an engagement email is sent informing receivers about what Blue Cross does and how their donation helps. Because they’ve implemented conversion tracking on all the emails they send, Blue Cross gets a better understanding of their donors and can track if they donate again during the first month. This can help when creating future communications and can form a basis for segmenting their audience to create separate donor journeys.

The Results

With a 54% open rate in the automated welcome series, 63% for the initial welcome email and further donations gathered during the program, the results speak for themselves. While not putting any additional burden on the marketing team by automating the process, Blue Cross have ensured that new donors feel welcome, informed and receive emails that are timely and truly personalized.

They are also building future communication and donor journeys based on the invaluable feedback received in these crucial first stages of donation.


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