Direct Marketing and Annual Giving Insights

A Piece of the Online Giving Pie

We all know that the digital landscape has changed and has had a profound impact on fundraising. In the past year alone, online giving has grown significantly. In fact, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Network for Good Digital Giving Index has shown that the number of donors has increased by 114% from August 2016 to August 2017. What’s more, the amount donated has also increased by 73%. This represents roughly $292 million raised from online giving alone. So what are you doing to ensure that your organization is enjoying a healthy portion of that pie?

As surprising as it may seem, most development professionals actually believe in the philanthropic causes they represent, and sometimes assume that our donors should give simply because our cause is so worthwhile. But we’re living in a day and age in which we’re constantly bombarded with email and web marketing about the newest products, the hottest events around town, and the latest fireside sales. So, how do we bust through the noise to ensure that our philanthropic messages are heard? What can you do to make certain that your constituents open your emails or visit your website? The key is to think like a traditional marketer.

Marketing professionals have honed the art of understanding their customer. Like them, we must understand our donor. Surveys and the like are certainly one way to learn their behaviors and attitudes, but the best way is to examine their giving patterns. Big Data is not simply a trend; it’s the next wave of marketing analytics.

When your donors are visiting your website, what are they viewing? Heat maps reveal where donors are clicking regularly and what they are most interested in learning. They can be used to shape the website architecture to drive donors to the most important button on your site—the “Give Now” button.

What about email marketing? Are you taking the necessary steps to ensure that your emails are read? Traditional A/B tests can still inform our strategy. They reveal game-changing data points like the best delivery dates and times to the most effective subject lines. Even minor adjustments like personalizing a subject line with the recipient’s first name can increase open rates.

However, this information is only helpful if you have an understanding of your donor base. Segmenting your constituents in behavior-driven categories or by affinities can greatly enhance the results of your A/B testing. First-time donors, for example, are less likely to open your email or visit your site than loyal, repeat donors. In order to learn the differences in donor behaviors and to detect giving patterns, you must first study how and when they respond. In other words, your testing methodology should reflect the outcomes you’re trying influence. Ultimately, understanding your audience, their interests and motivations can increase giving.

Today, our lives are lived online and we must adapt our fundraising strategies to connect with people in the medium they are using. The future is looming and 2018 is just around the corner—make no mistake this pie will be eaten! Maybe its time to fill your plate. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming trends in email marketing and how your organization can benefit.

Direct Marketing and Annual Giving Insights

Email Is Dead. Long Live Email?

The days of “click and send” email are dead. As fundraising professionals, it is no longer enough to simply send an email in the hope that our donors will respond. Static emails have become an outdated mode of communication. In today’s fast-paced and digitally-driven environment, we need to stay abreast of the latest trends in email marketing.

While there are still some basic techniques that should be applied to your solicitation campaigns like list segmentation or scheduling emails on Monday because they yield higher open rates, we need to take advantage of the next wave of technology to ensure our organization’s success.

There are three trends that annual giving staff can easily and cost-effectively implement today.

  1. What’s my favorite color?

How did you guess? You know me so well. Getting personal is critical in our business. Whether you’re building a relationship with a donor to secure a major gift or delivering an email, it’s all about listening to our prospects and knowing who they are and what they’re interested in. It’s not enough to know your donor’s name. You need their personal details like the fact that they give at the same time every year or that they’re interested in learning about specific areas of your cause. The more information you can gather about your donors and include in your messages, the greater return you will see. According to McKinsey, personalized emails can drive high returns.

  1. Thank you sir, may have another?

Everyone enjoys a second helping now and again. Transactional and automated emails that are triggered by donor behavior are another way to increase revenue. Using your existing automated e-receipt system, for example, you can secure second gifts immediately simply by offering additional areas of support (the old upsell) or use infographics which highlight giving impact. You can also track monthly website traffic to capture topical interest which then triggers your email solicitations and is based on your heat map analysis. Transactional emails yield greater revenue per email and see higher open rates too.

  1. Why is finger-painting fun?

Because you get your hands and mind involved with your artistic creation. Likewise, interactive emails are the next wave of digital innovation. Emails that include animated countdown timers create urgency. Animated GIFs that allow me to rollover images to learn the impact of my giving engage me at my seat whether I’m viewing an email in bed or riding the train during my morning commute. Once I become engaged in the action, I remain involved with the organization.

Email clearly has the potential to increase your fundraising revenue and is a relatively inexpensive vehicle. Rather than making email a secondary component of your direct mail strategy, try treating it as an entirely separate medium with its own opportunities for growth. I guess this means email is not dead; it’s just gotten a facelift.

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