Personal. Reliable. Trustworthy. Useful. These are all words that have recently been used to describe direct mail. Direct mail is a powerful marketing and fundraising tool. A key to its success lies in tracking response and measuring results. If you have no way of knowing what a recipient does once they receive your mailer, you can’t know the true value that mailer holds for your target audience. So, what do we measure? And how do we make mail trackable and measurable? The following measurements and tracking strategies can apply to for profit businesses and nonprofit organizations alike.
One of the biggest reasons people don’t give is from a feeling of futility—how can my contribution really make a difference?
To turn this feeling around, you must show a donor how important they as an individual are to your cause. A personal way to do so that continues to get results is direct mail. A direct mail piece that sends the right message, to the right recipient, at the right time, is a compelling and effective way to connect with your target audience.
But what makes a powerful mail piece?
Let’s look at a recent appeal mailing from Giffords PAC, an organization working to end gun violence founded by former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.
Ever feel like you’re beating your head against a wall trying to sell to the unsellable, qualify the unqualified, or get responses from the unresponsive?
You are not alone. As a sales professional and/or a business owner, much of the anxiety, frustration and weariness that happens in growing sales and a business is directly related to these activities.
Are you comfortable, if not jazzed, to have conversations with clients and prospects but discouraged with how difficult it is to get people to engage?
What if you could increase the ROI on your sales and prospecting efforts with a non-intrusive strategy to engage and generate more leads? Continue reading “Scorpion Marketing 101”
One of the biggest hurdles of direct mail? Getting people to open the envelope.
Postcards and self-mailers have the advantage of standalone, eye catching content. The graphics are immediately visible, compelling the recipient to read on.
But for many mail pieces, an envelope is essential. Using an envelope doesn’t have to be limiting, however. In fact, today’s printing technology allows envelopes to be more personalized and attractive than ever before. Customization turns envelopes from basic commodities to effective direct marketing tools.
Why Direct Mail?
In our digitally saturated world, direct mail stands out:
Consumers regularly rate direct mail as more personal than email
When we think about great direct mail results, we tend to think about the list, the message, and the call to action. However, things like the size, shape, and texture of the piece play a key role, too. Let’s look at five considerations for creating standout mail pieces.
Donor acquisition is one of the most important functions of nonprofit fundraising. Your donors make the good work you do possible. Without a regular and tactical practice of enlisting new donors , both socially and financially, your organization would be challenged to stay afloat.
It goes without saying that stewarding your current donor base is essential—they’re the ones who’ve continued to champion your cause and are more likely to give consistently, and grow their gifts, over time.
Conversely, compelling new donors to give is more difficult than maintaining a relationship with a regular donor. However, it’s important to not leave donor acquisition efforts for hard times. Your donor base is constantly changing, and your approach to acquiring new donors should be constant as well.
It’s a question that marketers and fundraisers regularly ask themselves. You may have a general idea of the types of people who are purchasing your products or giving to your cause. But crafting compelling messages requires a deeper knowledge of what resonates with your constituents. The most effective campaigns are those that reach people on a relevant, personal level.
Take a moment to breathe–you’ve made it through another busy holiday season. If you’re like many nonprofits, year-end fundraising is both a critical and a crazy time for your organization.
A lot of effort goes into crafting and executing year-end campaigns. Though you may be finished promoting your 2017 holiday campaign, your work is far from over. Now that you’ve got some breathing room, it’s time to consider how your organization will handle the fundraising challenges of a new year.
First, make sure to wrap up your holiday campaign. Often gifts will continue to come in through January, so it may be difficult to immediately determine the outcome of last year’s campaign. When you’re able to compile the results, take some time to evaluate them. Your best direction for the year ahead is to look back at the past year.
Your first move with these results is to share them with your donors. You need to thank everyone who gave to your organization, and let them know what you accomplished.
Don’t try to evaluate the campaign on your own. Get your team together to discuss the past year. What did they like about how each campaign went? What takeaways did they have from the year as a whole? Now that things have slowed down, you can take time to talk through experiences and assess the results to be better prepared for future campaigns.
And don’t be afraid to look at negatives as well as positives. The only way to avoid the same pitfalls in a new year is to critically look at campaigns that performed poorly.
You’ve got an entire year ahead of you—how will you spend it?
Set Fundraising Goals
By identifying where you want to go now, you can stay on track to fulfill the goals you set this year. Identify what objectives you want to achieve and what specifically will allow you to achieve them. For instance, if you know you want to increase donor retention, also specify a percentage or number to increase it by. You can only achieve trackable growth if you have exact figures to evaluate and work towards.
Measure What You Need to Manage
It can’t be emphasized enough how important and valuable it is to take this time to measure your recently completed campaign results. Knowing fundamental metrics like money raised, donor count, average and median contribution per donor, cost per donation, and ROI, compared to previous years’ campaigns, and in relation to your goals, are all key decision-making measurements. If you applied an A/B split to your campaign, measuring the performance difference between the two mailings is why you invested in a split in the first place. Taking these measurements while a campaign is still fresh adds more value to planning your next campaign than trying to reconstruct data later on.
Continue Doing What Works
How often might we become distracted to think there’s a slicker, more innovative way to build upon current success. Not that looking for better, more creative, or technologically innovative ways to improve upon our fundraising isn’t a worthy pursuit. But if something’s working well, do more of it. And if you have a reliable approach that consistently works well, that’s the perfect environment to work in a different approach to test without swaying from what’s tried and true.
Develop 1 New Strategy
Over time, you’ve likely come across strategies you want to implement into your organization. But doing so takes time: time to learn a new system, time to put it into practice effectively, and time to make it useful for your donors. Now that you have time to consider your next step, list these strategies and pick one that you think you can reasonably incorporate into your fundraising this year. Since marketing strategies are constantly evolving, it may seem necessary to follow as many trends as possible. But it’s better to focus on one and master it than to spread your resources too thin.
Prepare for Events
Be conscious of what events you have planned to host or attend this coming year, and don’t try to squeeze in a lot of extras. One well-executed event can have more of an impact than three or four time consuming and hastily organized ones. Consider how you need to prepare. Do you need volunteers? Are you hoping to give away promotional items? Know your strategy early, so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute.
If your digital fundraising strategy is patchy or unsuccessful, make updating it a priority. Donors need to be able to find you on the web, and online donations are becoming increasingly popular. Also, 55% of people that engage with a nonprofit through social media end up taking action, whether by volunteering, donating, or sharing your message.
Create Content Consistently
It’s important that your audience hears from you on a regular basis. To keep them engaged, you’ll have to share a variety of content. It can seem daunting to frequently come up with new content. But you can employ different strategies to make the process easier. First, develop a content calendar for the year. When will you send direct mail? How often do you need to email? What blog posts will you publish? Then, look at content you’ve already created. Maybe you take an image or quote from a long-form blog post and use it in an email newsletter or social media post. If you have donors and followers, you’re likely already producing effective and compelling content. So, don’t forget about it—look at how you can re-purpose your past efforts to stay on track now.
This can be a good time to test new strategies. Do some A/B testing with your direct mail and marketing emails, to better understand what touches and compels your donors. Do certain images or words resonate more than others?
Run Other Campaigns
A holiday is a great theme to plan a campaign around, and luckily there are plenty of them throughout the year. While year-end appeals are important, as 1/3 of annual funds are raised during the month of December, don’t make that campaign your sole focus. A compelling message will have an impact at any time of the year. You can relate your mission to certain holidays to keep your donors excited and your message relevant.
Think about the last purchase you made. What did it take to bring you from prospective customer to committed buyer?
Prospects typically need multiple touches before they commit to a purchase—over 7, according to the Online Marketing Institute. While it’s relatively easy to send out lots of emails or post on social media, we’re in an age where many of us are experiencing digital overload. (The average office worker receives 121 emails per day!) In such a crowded digital space, it’s hard to make your voice heard. If you’re not getting the kind of response you’d like from your marketing campaigns, it may be time to add direct mail to the mix.
Direct mail consistently rates as being more trustworthy, more memorable, and read more often than email. It provides a personal touch and the kind of experience digital just can’t deliver.
Direct mail may seem limiting if you have limited experience with it. However, printing has advanced considerably, giving you a wide range of options for texture, color, shape, design, and personalization.
As with any marketing communication, direct mail works best when it is relevant to the recipient and tailored to your audience. Just like digital communications, you can automate your direct mail to make the process more efficient.
What is Marketing Automation?
The basic idea of marketing automation is to use software to replace repetitive manual processes with automated actions. You can find, target, and contact prospects effectively and efficiently. The automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists and target specific audiences with tailored messages, leading to increased sales for your business. Automation delivers you more qualified leads and makes your marketing more efficient, so that you can focus on high-gain sales activities for your company.
Automation often relies on a trigger system. When a prospect completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list, it triggers your software to send an email to them. Automation is regularly used for digital marketing processes. The benefit of digital automation is that you can reach prospects instantaneously, increasing the chances of a sale. However, direct mail can be automated too, and it gives recipients something more: a physical and personal experience that stands out from a cluttered email inbox.
Some examples of direct mail automation campaigns include:
Exclusive offers based on past purchase history
Mailings to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or to thank
Promotional packages, featuring branded products
Case Study: A Real-Life Campaign
An essential factor of any automated campaign is to know your audience. Automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists to find the best audience for your campaign. You can define your best customers and the key demographic and psychographic factors they have in common.
If you’re working in a B2B context, you may find that a certain industry uses your services more frequently than others. It makes sense that you’ll want to engage with similar businesses to find more customers that are like your best customers.
A recent mailing campaign we did followed this model. We identified an industry we frequently worked with, and set out to create a campaign to attract more leads from this group. Having worked with this demographic before, we were able to anticipate common pain points, needs, and desires they face, and create content with those factors in mind.
Before contacting anyone, we put together a compelling direct mail marketing package. Personalized to the recipient, the package showed our knowledge of their industry and reached them on a personal level. The message–we know your problems and desires, and we can help you to solve and achieve them.
The packets included:
A letter personalized with the name, address, and institution of the recipient
A functional portfolio folder featuring content customized for the recipient’s business
A description of our services specific to that audience
Contents packaged in a custom envelope
While we were able to create a personal touch with our content, automation allowed us to find and connect with these prospects in a timely, scheduled manner. We purchased data lists that we then compared to our current customer list to exclude our customers from receiving a prospecting packet. Once we identified a qualified list of recipients, we automated the mailing by consistently sending out 10 packets per week. Then, we followed up with a structured phone and email schedule.
We created a personalized and industry-specific mailing and used automation to identify, mail to, and follow up with qualified recipients. We were able to generate business by creating an impression with our direct mail package. It stood out among the myriad marketing messages these businesses received on a daily basis.
For many fundraisers, it means a struggle to find ways to connect with a diverse generation that has different expectations than those established by their parents and grandparents.
But millennials don’t have to mean a struggle, and they can mean the future of your organization. Millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population, and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020. It’s essential that you’re able to reach this generation with your fundraising efforts. It represents a significant number of potential donors that may be interested in giving now, and for many years to come.
More so than previous generations, millennials are very receptive to cause marketing and fundraising. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in.
Millennials’ desire to do good makes them qualified potential donors for your organization. But to reach them effectively, you may have to adopt some new practices.
1) Invest in Digital Marketing
Millennials grew up using computers, and they’re quick to adopt new forms of technology. If you want to make millennials aware of your nonprofit, you have to be tech savvy, too. You can:
Be active on social media by sharing, posting, commenting, and responding to any actions on your page.
Ensure your website is updated regularly, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile devices.
Set up search engine optimization (SEO) for your nonprofit’s website.
Try using or creating a mobile app so that it’s easy for potential donors to give at any time (millennials tend to be impulse donors).
Develop consistency across marketing channels so that potential donors will have a seamless experience.
2) Millennials Like Direct Mail
Though millennials are digitally focused, they place value and trust in direct mail. 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email. Part of the reason is that direct mail can be extremely personalized for the recipient. Personal touches give your nonprofit a human, friendly side that millennials will connect with.
3) Be Approachable
Present your organization as approachable and encourage potential donors to engage in frequent conversations with you, whether on a blog page, social media site, in an email, or in person.
By connecting with millennial donors now, you are beginning a long-term relationship with them, that will hopefully transition to a regular gift. Many younger people may not be in a position to make a financial gift, but are still passionate about helping. Encouraging them to volunteer with you keeps them involved while creating a deeper bond between them and your organization.
4) Think Global, Act Local
Millennials have a global consciousness, and they want to feel they’re contributing to a larger cause. If you can, connect your mission to a larger issue, and show how an action in your community can relate and support a global need.
5) Enhance Trust
42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago. A good practice for reaching donors of any generation is to be transparent. Millennials want clear and specific information on the impact their individual contribution will have.
Building trust also means staying in touch with donors on a regular basis. Since millennials value the relationships they build with organizations, it’s essential for you to communicate with them for more than just an ask. Reiterate the good you’re doing with regular updates on the impact you’re having.
6) Step Up Storytelling
Millennials tend to feel connected to causes rather than individual organizations. But you can use stories to show the impact, importance, and personal side of your nonprofit, helping millennials to build a stronger connection to you. It gives your organization a human side, and potential donors can see and hear from specific individuals they’ll be helping. Use a lot of images and videos in your fundraising materials to help your stories make an impact.