Los Angeles Regional Food Bank – Email testing strategy

Email strategy testing achieves revenue goals and debunks myths

The challenge

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (LARFB) was looking for a way to take their email program to the next level by increasing engagement and growing revenue. They challenged us to achieve these objectives while keeping their current email program running at full speed.

Russ Reid solution

Russ Reid provided a comprehensive email testing strategy focused on increasing interaction and income. The tests were informed by industry research and developed based on proven nonprofit best practices, as well as best practice ecommerce solutions. Our methodology included two key elements:

  1. Strategic dissemination – In order to effectively meet our goals, we planned to test every email strategy twice. With this in mind, we developed a schedule that factored in time to analyze incoming results. This allowed us to determine the need for a retest, or discontinue testing the tactic altogether.
  2. Maximization – We tested multiple strategies at the same time and learned faster in the process. Whether it was a combination of content and subject line, or design and in‐ home date, each test enriched analysis quickly and allowed for individual strategy assessments without overlap.


Overall, our approach worked, as we successfully helped increase open rate by 6% and per email revenue by 53%. Not only did we successfully realize LARFB’s engagement and revenue goals, but we also improved email designs, gained new formats, validated various strategies, and uncovered exciting opportunities for the future.

The following test examples illustrate these achievements in three distinct areas: inhome day, messaging and design. Each test lifted levels of engagement and revenue, while simultaneously debunking email marketing myths and unveiling valuable strategic insights along the way.

Email strategy tests

1. In‐home day: Email marketing experts tout the idea that Tuesday through Thursday is the optimum timeframe for email deployment. We decided to put this notion to the test, deploying the email featured below on both a weekday (Thursday) and weekend date (Saturday) to determine which in‐home timeframe would best meet LARFB’s engagement and revenue growth goals.

LARFB email test 1

The weekend inhome date outperformed the weekday inhome date in both clickthroughrate and overall revenue generated. In fact, the weekend email obtained more than double the number of donations compared to the weekday delivery.

We tested this strategy twice, and in both instances the weekend email beat out the weekday control. Consequently, we concluded that sending emails on the weekend is a viable deployment option, resulting in successful engagement and conversion performance.

2. Messaging: Can a stewardship email raise equal funds? We discovered the answer when we tested an e‐newsletter with a soft ask against a fundraising‐focused message during both the summer and fall seasons.

LARFB email test 2

During the month of July, both the e‐newsletter and fundraising emails resulted in a comparable number of donations. Also, the e‐newsletter had significantly higher open and click‐through‐rates than the control at 19.92% and 12.03% respectively.

When retesting both strategies in November, different revenue and engagement results proved true. The control received 3.5X more donations than the test. Additionally, the control had higher open and click‐through rates, with results landing at a 14.05% and 12.73% respectively.

Considering these results, we recommended LARFB employ need‐based messaging throughout the fall season, while interspersing e‐newsletters at other times of year, or adding an e‐newsletter as a mid‐month email. In addition to these insights, LARFB acquired a new, proven e‐newsletter design template for their future use.

3. Design: Everyone loves a good online video, but does that affection translate to action? We decided to test the power of video content against a more traditional copy‐centric email format to uncover the content’s true impact.

LARFB email test 3

This test confirmed that promoting and linking to a video in email provides a lift in revenue.

The video test resulted in 15X more donations compared to the control. The click‐through‐rate of the video test also greatly exceeded that of the control with 11.22% versus 9.01%. Overall, the video test generated 22% more total clicks and 40X more revenue than the control format.

Ultimately, LARFB obtained more than increased engagement and revenue. They obtained yet another brand new, validated email design template available for use whenever compelling content becomes available to feature.

To learn how Russ Reid can help your Food Bank grow beyond, please contact Andrew Olsen (CFRE, Vice President).

View a downloadable PDF of this case study.