Experiment With Your Marketing

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Picture your marketing strategy 10 years ago. It probably looked a lot different than your strategy of today. Now imagine you were still using the same marketing content and tactics from 10 years ago. Do you think you’d be successful?

Probably not. Marketing is constantly changing, as new technologies are introduced, new trends appear, and younger generations enter the market. To be effective, your business must change, too.

Recognizing the need to change your strategy is the first step. But change isn’t always easy. How do you know what to change? And how do you make it happen?

Experiment for Excellence

One of the best ways to enact change is to experiment with your content marketing. You can’t know which strategies will best fit your business without some testing.

Experimenting can be a fairly simple process, but it’s important. By now, you likely have routines you’re comfortable with when it comes to marketing. But sticking with a long-standing strategy that’s no longer performing, while it may be easier, can only hurt you in the long run.

Doing a major overhaul of your marketing can be expensive and may be impossible to coordinate. The good news is, you can improve marketing success with smaller, incremental changes, just as much as with big ones. In fact, smaller changes can be the key to significant growth.

Data Driven

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So, you’re ready to experiment. Great! Before you get too far, it’s essential that you examine your data. You cannot effectively improve your marketing if you don’t know where you’re starting from. To truly measure the success of a campaign, you need to have a goal. And not a vague goal either, but a specific, numerical goal that you can strive for.

We’re all working to achieve a 100% response rate and double our sales, right? Marketing success can be astronomical, but usually it takes longer periods of time to show steady, significant growth. You want to set goals that are achievable for your business. If you’re seeing a 12% open rate on your emails, work to consistently have 15%, then 20%. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but always keep an eye on data and metrics.

However you go about collecting and reviewing your data, your analysis will likely reveal areas in which you want to improve. These areas are where you can start some experimenting.

Making One Core Change

You’ve identified a marketing goal. Now, it’s time get to work. It’s possible to run experiments across a variety of platforms. But what you change, and how much, is of key importance.

When it comes to improving your marketing, you’re trying to understand what resonates with your specific audience. There may be times when a sweeping change is necessary and welcome, whether you’re unveiling a new website design or new application for your business. But on a day to day scale, experimentation is all about making small tweaks to fine tune your strategy.

Here’s a core tip: change only one element per medium at a time. Let’s take email again as an example. If you’re incorporating a new template, adding a CTA button, and drastically changing up your subject lines, you may start to see some change in open and click through rates. Hopefully those rates are increasing—they could decrease instead. Either way, it will be impossible to pinpoint exactly what caused that change if you make several changes at one time.

However, say you change one element of your email marketing—replacing a hyperlink in your email template with a bright, eye-catching button. If you start to see an increase in the click-through rates of your campaigns, you can attribute that change directly to the addition of the button. Once you’ve established the button as a consistent part of your emails, and are seeing a consistent click-through rate, you can adjust another email element to continue improving.

A/B Testing

digital artwork two open laptopsA/B Testing is one of the most popular forms of experimenting. An A/B test involves creating two versions of a piece of content that differ in just one element. For email marketing, A/B testing is frequently used to test subject lines. The entire body content of the email will remain the same, but you’ll create two different subject lines. Split your email list in half, so half receive the email with subject line A, and half with subject line B. Whichever email is opened more has the best performing subject line. Read here for what makes a compelling subject line.

When it comes to email marketing, you can also test:

  • Imagery
  • Button Use/ Button Color
  • Time of day/ day of the week you send the emails
  • Who the email is sent from (a company vs. an individual)

While popular for email, A/B tests can also be implemented throughout marketing, on landing pages and in direct mail campaigns. It’s important to remember that you’re focusing in on what your audience responds to. Certain words or tactics that work for some audiences may not resonate as strongly with others, so it may take some testing to determine what your recipients favor.

Time is of the Essence

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Think back to your science classes. Often, an experiment would be run for a set amount of time, whether several minutes or several days. You should run your marketing experiments on the same principle.

Let’s look at an example. Say you want to add a banner to your website’s homepage using a Call to Action (CTA), with the goal of increasing conversions through the site. To measure the effect of the banner, take a set period, like one month. Place the element on your homepage at the beginning of the month. At the end of the month, examine how conversions varied from the month before.

And, don’t change anything else on the page until your experimentation period is over. This is important, because any other changes you make during that time will make data regarding the effectiveness of the CTA void. Was it the CTA or another element that brought in those leads?

Analysis

The results are in! Whatever you discovered from your campaign, take note of how the process went, what you learned from it, and what the data tells you. Analyzing your results is key to determine the effectiveness of your experiment and to plan your next steps, as you continue to improve your marketing and increase sales.

Effectively Reaching the Modern Donor

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Charitable giving has long been a part of the human experience. The first record of individuals giving back was in 2500 BCE, when the Hebrews instated a mandatory tax used to benefit the poor. In the U.S., philanthropy dates to 1643, when Harvard held the first American fundraising drive, raising 500 pounds.

In 2016, a total of $390.05 billion was gifted to charities around the world. The history of charitable giving is not only long, but full of change. And it’s not done changing yet.

The fundraising landscape is constantly shifting, as new technologies and demographic trends affect both the ways donors give and who is giving. A recent trend is the dominance of the “Modern Donor.”

The 2018 Modern Donor Contours Report describes this group as a combination of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennial donors. Modern Donors have taken over the giving process from the Silent Generation, donors age 72 and over. This group has defined the giving process in the past. But younger generations are changing the methods the average donor uses to give and the ways that nonprofits need to fundraise.

How Donors Give

According to the 2017 Global Trends in Giving report, 61% of donors prefer giving online. While this does mean it’s essential to have a website that is easy to navigate, it doesn’t mean placing all your eggs in the online basket. In fact, when direct mail and web are combined, nonprofits see an average 27% response rate. When you add email to the mix, that figure jumps to 37%. So, donors favor online giving. But their decision to give is bolstered by communications across multiple channels, including direct mail, social media, and face-to-face conversations.

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Other notable statistics—half of donors are inspired to give from social media and fundraising events. In the past year, two-thirds of donors volunteered with a nonprofit, and 60% of donors attended a fundraising event. Creating an opportunity for current and potential donors to physically go to your event and interact in person with your employees and beneficiaries is hugely helpful to the giving process.

The Emergence of the Modern Donor

What does a Modern Donor look like?

Silent Generation donors tend to be passive. They wait for the organization to reach out to them, and they’ll respond with a gift. Not so with Modern Donors. This group is more active, interacting with organizations across multiple channels. They operate on their own timeline, whether or not that coincides with your organization’s timeline. It’s important to listen closely to donors, examine feedback, and work to engage your donors the ways they want to engage, even if it’s not the way your organization has preferred to engage in the past.

Is Word of Mouth still what it used to be?

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It’s a trend across fundraising and marketing—word of mouth consistently rates as a top way individuals make giving and purchasing decisions. Modern Donors rely heavily on the opinions and experiences of other individuals in their network. 91% of those surveyed for the Contours Report cited networks and self-discovery as the main ways they learned about nonprofits and chose to give. In contrast, only 9% of first-time donors chose to give due to receiving materials from the charity or organization itself. A person’s “network” can consist of conversations with friends and family, or of celebrity influencers they follow on social media. Place your efforts in creating positive, personal experiences for each of your donors. They’ll have good things to say about your organization and its efforts, helping to create a favorable impression of you among potential donors.

Will potential donors research your organization?

Millennials are nearly twice as likely to do research about an organization than their Silent Generation counterparts. More tech savvy and more influenced by word of mouth, Modern Donors seek to get to the truth of what an organization has done and how it has helped others. Make any studies, reports, stories, and statistics regarding your organization readily available on your website. Ensure you’re gathering data you can report on. Make it easy for researching donors to find this information, as it can heavily influence their decision to give.

What’s the impact of a social media presence?

As stated above, half of donors are inspired to give from social media content. Social media also creates a place for discussion and for people to share their personal experiences with your organization. Modern Donors are big on sharing that they made a gift as soon as possible. 54% of those surveyed said they share charitable giving with their network, with nearly 60% of Millennials doing so.

What channels do donors engage with?

The Modern Donor is connected across multiple channels and is not influenced as significantly by outbound fundraising strategies like direct mail. While direct mail is an essential part of fundraising, the Contours report indicates that direct mail may be better suited for communications with repeat donors, who are looking for regular, personal updates about your nonprofit.

Instead, the website was cited as the main point of conversion for Modern Donors. However, because they are engaged across several channels, it’s important both that you have a multi-channel engagement strategy and that the strategy is consistent in theme, message, and appearance across channels. Modern Donors want a seamless experience.

How loyal is loyal?

An important fact to remember regarding Modern Donors is that they are “nearly loyal.” As a nonprofit, your goal is to build a donor base that consistently gives to your organization from year to year. These “truly loyal” donors are essential. But you should note that 50% of Modern Donors will regularly give to 2 or more organizations in addition to yours. And, they’ll frequently give to a different nonprofit from year to year rather than consistently giving to the same one. To improve donor retention, word of mouth can be helpful. Focus on turning your truly loyal donors into brand ambassadors, working to educate their networks about your organization and converting one-time donors into regular contributors.

What donor and giving trends are your nonprofit seeing? Let us know!

How Inbound Marketing Generates Leads

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Imagine a marketing system that works in the background of your business or organization attracting leads to your door. Imagine this same process not only attracting leads, but building a fan-base of prospects who are both enthusiastic and qualified leads, the best kind of lead!

Have you heard of inbound marketing? Do you know how it differs from traditional marketing? If it’s all a bit fuzzy to you, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing is a core strategy for generating leads through content creation. Here’s what you need to know to start using inbound marketing for your business.

Outbound vs. Inbound

For many companies, marketing has long been about using strategies to reach out to potential customers in hope of a response. Termed “outbound marketing,” these methods include direct mail, email marketing, cold calls, TV and online ads, and event attendance. In these instances, marketers are actively bringing their brand to the prospect, whether by paying for an ad to appear on a webpage or mailing a postcard directly to the recipient’s front door.

These traditional marketing strategies have been practiced for years. And in many cases, they do work. But in a crowded marketing climate, it’s easy for your message to get lost among the flood of content vying for your prospect’s attention.

That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound strategies focus on creating content that “attracts” leads to your business in a non-intrusive way. While you are still putting content out, you are doing so to attract leads to come to you, rather than you directly contacting them. Customers can engage with you at their point of need, placing you at the forefront of their minds as having the answers to their needs.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

According to HubSpot, an inbound marketing application developer, there are four main stages of inbound marketing: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Simply put, this means that your inbound marketing strategies have the goal of:

  • attracting visitors to your website,
  • using various methods to convert them to leads,
  • closing the sale,
  • and turning one-time customers into repeat customers and brand ambassadors.
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A major reason that inbound strategies work is based on the type of content you generate at each of these stages. While each step requires different content, it should all have value for the potential customer. The main way to draw visitors to your website is by generating valuable, informative content. An advertisement is meant to draw attention, but a well-written blog post is meant to inform. It’s the way you can break out from the crowd. Provide consistent, helpful content, and you’ll keep qualified leads coming back to you for more.

Attract

To start the inbound marketing pipeline, you must be generating content that shows leads you know what you’re doing and can help them solve problems. The bulk of this work should be done through blogging, with help from social media. Leads can find your content two key ways: through seeing social media posts, and due to online searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also key to invest in, so that when an individual searches for a topic you’ve written about, your posts will appear higher up on the list of search results, making them more likely to be read.

Convert

Getting visitors to your website is essential, but it’s just the first step. Make it an easy transition for a visitor to contact you or share their info. Try including a sign-up form, using live chat tools, tracking site visitors, and making your contact information visible on every page of your site.

Close

When you have a group of qualified leads, now it’s time to close a sale. Part of this step requires you to stay relevant. Determine which pages or topics on your site are attracting the most interest, so you can continue creating content around those themes. Then, you can incorporate outbound methods like direct mail and email to provide those leads with content that is relevant to their interests and stage in the buying cycle. Segmenting your contact lists can be helpful here, as you target specific groups with specific messages. Again, try to keep your content focused on value.

Delight

Successful marketing isn’t about attracting a high volume of one-time buyers. It’s about creating a positive customer experience and getting to know each customer, so that they’ll continue looking to you to solve their problems and meet their needs. Respond to any questions or concerns with timely, helpful content. And craft content meant for each stage of the customer journey. Different customers require different calls to action. Keep track of who your customers are, what they are purchasing from you, and how often they are doing so, so that you can provide the right content at the right time.

Importance of Tracking

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As mentioned above, it’s important to keep track of data regarding your customers. It’s impossible to truly understand the direction of your marketing if you don’t know where you are and where you want to be. And, you can provide your customers and leads with more relevant, timely information if you know certain metrics. Consider which pages are most visited on your site, the number of unique visitors, and time spent on your site.

This applies to social media as well. When you know which content is your best performing content, you can modify your strategy to include more of it. Tracking also allows you to follow each customer’s journey. That way, you can better serve your client base and determine which strategy converts best.

With the world of content available on the internet, consumers are becoming better educated and changing the way they make purchase decisions. To stay top of mind with consumers, marketers must adapt to focus their strategies toward relevant content generation and providing value for the customer. In doing so, your brand will build trust and a sense of authority, helping to grow your business and turn more leads into repeat customers.

Interested in trying or strengthening your inbound marketing? At Paw Print, we offer content marketing and copywriting as a service, to help you on your way to generating more leads. Give us a call when you’re ready to take your content to the next level.